What is aromatherapy?

As an ancient healing art that has been around since the pyramids, aromatherapy heals and revitalizes the body and mind. It’s a wholistic approach to health and well-being that uses aromas derived from the plant kingdom. It has long been known that the power of fragrance can be used to influence and alter our emotional moods. Aromas assist in balancing, stimulating, relaxing, invigorating and rejuvenating the body. Aromatherapy is the science and art of using these volatile, non-oily essences of plants in healing. Medicinal aromatherapy brings about healing on three planes: the physical, mental and spiritual.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are therapeutic grade oils distilled from plants, shrubs, flowers, trees, roots and seeds. They are oxygenated to help transport nutrients to the cells of the body. Some essential oils are among the strongest antimicrobial agents, easily eliminating toxins in the body and fighting infection. Essential oils are also used to open and heighten spiritual awareness. They contain numerous therapeutic properties and often have the ability to donate or receive electrons. The recognized healing effect is believed to be carried out mainly through tissue stimulation. Essential oils have an analgesic neutralizing effect on chemicals carried by the sensory nerve endings.

How are essential oils used?

There are many ways essential oils can be incorporated into our daily lives. Bathing, massage therapy, compresses, inhalation, steam inhalation and spray mist air treatments, as well as pet, garden and houseplant care and housecleaning are some of the most common methods.

Try it at home!

Energize body, mind and soul with a therapeutic blend of rosemary, orange, melissa (lemon balm), and jasmine. Combine 3 drops of each oil in a diffuser and breathe the aroma as it fills the room. For a stimulating, sensual bath, stir the same amount of oils in your bath and soak for 20 minutes.

Sedating scents of geranium, jasmine, lemon balm, Roman chamomile and rose will help sweep you off to dreamland. Combine 3 to 5 drops of each (or use just one) in a diffuser in your bedroom. If you use a candle-powered diffuser, diffuse in the air prior and blow out the flame just before climbing in bed.

Bathe away the blues by soaking in a tub of clove tea. To do it: simmer 1 ½ teaspoons of whole clove and 3 litres of water for 25 minutes in a non-reactive pan such as glass, enamel or stainless steel with a tight fitting lid to better retain the therapeutic properties. Strain and add the decoction to your bath water and soak for 20 minutes.

Bring the healing, rejuvenating qualities of solar energy into your home by using orange oil as an all-purpose household cleaner. Not only will orange oil cut grease and grime on surfaces, remove stains from carpets, fabric and clothing, its bright and cheerful aroma will lift your spirits even on the darkest day.

A few essential oils and their uses:

Basil – Eases mental fatigue
Bergamot – Opens your heart to love and life
Cedar wood – Enhance connection to Spirit
Clary Sage – Brings tranquillity and balance
Cypress – Allows peace, comfort and strength
Geranium – Balances body, mind and emotions
Juniper – Promotes well-being and inner strength
Patchouli – Aids one in feeling comfortable, safe and grounded
Rosewood – Enhances meditation, eases anxiety, depression and moodiness
Sandalwood – Known for opening and centring
Vetiver – Promotes security and stability; known as “the oil of tranquility”

Mary Graber is the owner of Mountain Mary’s herbal shop in Eagle River, Alaska. Readers can contact her at 622-9850, by e-mail at mountainmary@ak.net, or via her website:  www.mountainmary.com. Previously posted in Alaska Wellness magazine.