For centuries, people have practiced aromatherapy as a way to heal aches and diseases, to relax and also to purify the air around them. Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Indians, and many other civilizations used essential oils for therapeutic and hygienic purposes. Oils were a valuable and luxurious item and were used as currency in ancient times. More recently, the concept of aromatherapy gained attention in alternative medicine and massage therapy. Many of aromatherapy’s properties may be helpful to residents in assisted living facilities.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is using a plant’s aroma-producing essential oils to treat disease and alleviate stress. These essential oils are harvested from the plant’s flowers, bark, leaves or roots and mixed with a carrier oil (olive oil or almond oil for example) or alcohol, and are inhaled or massaged into the skin (once it is diluted with a carrier oil, as mentioned). The oils can also be added to bathwater for a soothing and therapeutic experience.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Most essential oils have antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal and antioxidant properties which can provide respiratory disinfection, act as a decongestant or bring psychological benefits. Essential oils can also help cure nausea, muscle and body aches, anxiety or stress, headaches, and menopausal problems.
Different types of essential oil and their uses:
The fragrance in essential oils stimulates the nerves in the nose, which sends messages to the brain to respond. Depending on the oil, the result of the aromatherapy can be invigorating or calming. These are the uses of some popular aromatherapy oils:
- Basil essential oil relieves migraine headaches and helps with concentration.
- Bergamot essential oil mixed with eucalyptus oil helps with stress-related skin conditions.
- Chamomile essential oil is used to treat eczema and promote relaxation.
- Clove essential oil is an antioxidant and helps prevent or alleviate nausea.
- Jasmine essential oil promotes alertness.
- Lavender essential oil helps with relaxation and sleep.
- Lemon essential oil improves the mood and helps relieve stress and depression.
- Rosemary essential oil may boost memory and supports the circulatory and nervous system.
- Thyme essential oil helps reduce fatigue, nervousness, and stress.
These oils should never be taken internally and may cause adverse effects on those with skin allergies or certain respiratory illnesses. Not all essential oils benefit everyone. Some essential oils can be toxic to humans and pets, cats in particular. Never stop a prescribed treatment in favor of aromatherapy without discussing it with your doctor first.