By Charlotte GerberB.S. in Community and Human Services
Essential oils are the key to relaxing aromatherapy, and they are extracted from plant materials by three main methods:
Absolute is the method that is used to extract essential oils from flowers, which would not survive the steam distillation or cold press method. The cold press method is used to extract essential oils from citrus fruits and the steam distillation method is used for all other plants and parts of plants such as leaves, stems, and bark.
If you've ever had a massage where the masseuse used essential oils, you've had a holistic aromatherapy treatment. This is one of the more common ways that aromatherapy is used. The combination of the smell of essential oils, the absorption of the oils into the skin, and a tissue massage can help chase away even the most stubborn muscle tension and stress from the body.
In addition to relieving stress, it is believed that aromatherapy can help to boost the body's immunity. Stress can make an individual vulnerable to illness and aromatherapy can help to strengthen the body's immune system by stimulating chemicals in the brain that can help to fight off infection.
Clinical aromatherapy is used in conjunction with traditional medicine. This form of therapy may vary greatly from country to country. One way that it is used in the United States is with dentistry. The scent of lavender used in waiting rooms has been shown to help reduce stress prior to dental treatments. It has also been used to provide quick relief to those who are suffering from major diseases, serious illness, or childbirth by helping to provide a relaxing atmosphere.
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Aesthetic aromatherapy is the use of essential oils in burners, diffusers, or in the bath. This is another popular method that is used by people of all ages. Many people give bath salts, bath beads, and shower gels to one another for special occasions and the holidays. These gifts are often touted as spa treatments or stress relievers. These products are made using essential oils and they produce the necessary effects for the recipients - soothing, skin pampering, and stress relieving bliss. Scented candles often include essential oils as well, and can be used in conjunction with scented bath products for a luxuriously relaxing experience.
How Does Aromatherapy Relieve Stress?
Aromatherapy used in any of its forms can help to relieve stress. Since aromatherapy employs the use of scent to affect how people feel, it is important to understand how this works on the body.
When we inhale air, particularly air that is infused with essential oils, it goes to the roof of our nose. Olfactory receptors in the nose then transport the information to the limbic system. The limbic system is where our emotions are processed. One reason it is believed that aromatherapy can be helpful, especially when treating stress, is that it stimulates the release of certain chemicals in the brain that can help people relax. This is why aromatherapy can help to relieve stress.
If you're interested in exploring the use of aromatherapy to relieve stress, you can do this in one of several ways.
Visit a spa and request information on the aromatherapy options that they offer. From simply enjoying a quiet room to massage therapy or even steam aromatherapy, you'll be able to find which option works best for you.
Buy a home aromatherapy kit and try out the various essential oils to see which works best for you. Home aromatherapy kits may include an essential oil diffuser or burner as well as instructions on how to use the essential oils to achieve the desired effect.
Buy a kit that includes an assortment of bath salts to enjoy. Try out a little of each type to see which produces the desired effects without overpowering the senses.
There are a few words of caution for those using essential oils for stress relief. Some essential oils can cause allergic reactions. Test a small amount of the product on the inside of the wrist or elbow before taking a bath with the oils. In addition, using too much of an essential oil or mixing different oils in a diffuser or burner can be overwhelming. Be sure to use the exact amount specified in the instructions so the experience of discovering how does aromatherapy relive stress is a pleasant one.