Aroma Therapy

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What is Aroma Therapy?

Aromatherapy means “treatment using scents”. The word “Aromatherapy” conjures up images of people magically alleviating their depression or insecurities with wonderful scents but it is much more than that. Incorporating aromatherapy into your life enhances your overall health, beauty, and psychological well being. It is a holistic treatment of caring for the body with pleasant smelling botanical oils such as rose, lemon, lavender and peppermint. The essential oils are added to the bath or massaged into the skin, inhaled directly or diffused to scent an entire room. Aromatherapy is used for the relief of pain, care for the skin, alleviate tension and fatigue and invigorate the entire body. Essential oils can affect the mood, alleviate fatigue, reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. When inhaled, they work on the brain and nervous system through stimulation of the olfactory nerves.
It’s the essential oils within plants that give them their characteristic smell and flavor. When we smell the delightful fragrance of jasmine flowers in the early evening, open a cedar wood box and inhale its woody smell or add a zest of lemon to a drink, it’s the essential oil that we are enjoying.

History of Aromatherapy

The Sanatan (Hindu) Indians Ayurved is one of the first cultures to use aromatic plants for well-being. Their practices involved burning incense to help create harmony and balance. Ayurveda considers the use of aromatherapy as an important tool for prevention and healing. Practitioners use it for protecting the vital force, Prana, regulating digestion and metabolism, Agni, and increasing resistance to disease, Ojas. Traditional Ayurvedic practices include fumigation by burning Neem leaves, use of holy basil or rose petals in water while bathing, and burning incense sticks during meditation.

Ayurvedic herbalists even use these herbs to turn gray hair black, to reduce weight including treating sinus, sneezing, tooth decay, deafness, dumbness and many other diseases. This practice is slowly gaining popularity. The herbalists use camphor smoke to treatworms in teeth. For thousands of years, the Indian community wore jasmine garlands in hand, head and neck to evoke sex.

Oils of cedar wood, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and myrrh were used by the Egyptians to embalm the dead. When a tomb was opened in the early 20th century, traces of the herbs were discovered with intact portions of the body. The scent, although faint, was still apparent. Although, the Egyptians used the cedar wood, the other oils the Egyptians used were most likely infused oils, distilled by a crude distillation process,

Aromatherapy is actually nothing else but only the Ayurvedic system of treating mind and body to keep the atmosphere clean and free of bacteria. Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils, is one of the most popular techniques of natural medicine practiced today. Essential oils may be found in different parts of the plant in the petals (rose), leaves (eucalyptus), roots of grass (vetiver), bark (cinnamon), heartwood (sandalwood), citrus rind (lemon), seeds (caraway), bulbs (garlic), the avail or top parts of the plant (marjoram) or resin (frankincense) and sometimes in more than one part of the plant for e.g. the orange tree produces 3 different smelling essences with different medicinal properties – neroil from the flowers, petit grain from the leaves and orange oil from the rind of the fruit. It is widely available, pleasant, and easy to use.

Everything in your kitchen and bathroom has an aroma that affects you in many ways. The smell of cinnamon can make your mouth water or bring back the memory of grandma’s apple pie. Lavender bath salts calm your nervous system as you soak in the tub. Aromas are added to candles, soaps, lotions and massage oils, so you are often practicing aromatherapy even when you don’t realize it.

The first form of aromatherapy utilized different kinds of burning woods, and the use of smoke in the form of incense has survived in almost all cultures.

How Does Aromatherapy Work?

A single essential oil is usually made up of hundreds of different chemical components in major, minor and trace constituents. Each individual component brings its own set of properties to the oil. It’s the combination of these constituents, which gives each essential oil its characteristic smell.

Studies with brain wave frequency have shown that smelling lavender increases alpha waves in the back of the head, which are associated with relaxation. Fragrance of Jasmine increases beta waves in the front of the head, which are associated with a more alert state.

Aromatherapy works by synergistically using the properties of all the chemicals in the essential oil for their correct application. Infact the side effects of any one particular harsh chemical are balanced by the other chemicals, even though they might be trace chemicals.

Essentials oils stimulate the powerful sense of smell. It is known that odors we smell have a significant impact on how we feel. In dealing with patients who have lost the sense of smell, doctors have found that a life without fragrance can lead to high incidence of psychiatric problems such as anxiety and depression. We have the capability to distinguish 10,000 different smells. It is believed that smells enter through cilia (the fine hairs lining the nose) to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls our moods, emotions, memory and learning.

A fragrance company in Japan conducted studies to determine the effects of smell on people. They pumped different fragrances in an area where a number of keyboard entry operators were stationed and monitored the number of mistakes made as a function of the smell in the air. The results were as follows:

When exposed to lavender oil fragrance (a relaxant), the keyboard typing errors dropped 20 percent.

When exposed to jasmine (an uplifting fragrance), the errors dropped 33 percent.
When exposed to lemon fragrance (a sharp, refreshing stimulant), the mistakes fell by a whopping 54 percent!

Aromatherapy works through

Inhalation – The molecular structure of an essential oil is very minute, it is absorbed by the lungs through the olfactory nerve, from where they diffuse across tiny air sacs (alveoli) into the surrounding blood capillaries and eventually find their way into the systemic circulation from where they exert their therapeutic effect. A steam inhalation is an excellent way of treating coughs, colds, sore throats and for cleansing the skin. Put very hot water in a bowl and add 3-4 drops of essential oil. Then lean over the bowl, place a large towel over your head and inhale the vapors. Agarbati/incense stick. Inhalation not only tightens the breasts of ladies, remove wrinkles but, also at the same time act as age retarding agent.
Skin absorption/ Massage the skin is a two way street capable of both absorption and excretion for e.g. rub a small piece of cut garlic on the soles of your feet…. within 5 minutes you will have garlic breath.

The tiny molecules of herbs oils pass through the hair follicles, which contain sebum, an oily liquid to which essential oils have an affinity. From here the fume diffuse into the blood stream or are taken up by the lymph or interstitial fluid (a liquid surrounding all body cells) to other parts of the body.

Aromatherapy works on the simple basic principle of enjoying the fragrance. If the fragrance is disliked the treatment will not be so beneficial. It combines the feel good aspect along with the therapeutic aspect.
Aromatherapy massage is another widely used Ayurvedic technique. With an aromatherapy massage you get the benefit of the essential oil as well as that of the massage. It is found that the effect of touch can be very valuable to calm the person and soothe the nerves. When you receive, or give yourself a massage, you not only inhale the essential oils but your skin absorbs them as well. They penetrate the tissues and find their way into the bloodstream where they are transported to the organs and systems of the body. Essential oils have different rates of absorption so it is best not to shower directly following a massage to ensure maximum effectiveness.  Massage

The essential oils along with having a therapeutic effect on the physical body also have different effects on the psychological and spiritual self. They help in treating the mind, body and soul thus making it a holistic form of healing.

BATH: the warmth of a bath not only relaxes a person, it also enables the skin to absorb the essential oil better. The large surface of the warm water in the tub instantly vaporizes the essential oils, sending their particles to your brain. Soaking alone relaxes your muscles and your whole physiology, so you enhance the effect of the aromas. The blended oil should be added once the bath has been run, as the heat will encourage evaporation. Only the non irritant essential oils like lavender & German chamomile can be added directly to a bath, all other oils need to be first blended either in the required base oil or in a cupful of full fat milk. Bath therapy

BURNERS AND VAPORISERS: these can be used to deodorize, fumigate or simply create a special atmosphere. Inhaling the vapors can also be therapeutically beneficial. Put a little water in the top part of the burner and add 7-10 drops of essential oil to it before lighting the candle below.

ESSENTIAL OILS FOR VATA IMBALANCE

Vayu vitiated due to intake of pungent, bitter, astringent, too rough and cold food articles, little or no food, too much traveling on foot, no routine in your life, eating to much dry, frozen or leftover food, suppression of urges, sexual intercourse, envelops the Agni and thus makes it sluggish. Because Vata is light, dry, mobile and cold, it is treated by the oils, which are wet, heavy, calming and warming. Vata is reduced by the tastes sweet, sour and salty.

There are two types of Vata imbalance to consider. One is know as obstructed Vata where the channels of the body have become clogged with toxic residues (ama), the result of indigestion, poor diet, and poor elimination in the presence of Dosha imbalance. Like Kapha excess, obstructed Vata is treated for a short period of time to remove the blockages. The other type of Vata imbalance is called Vat caused by drying, emaciation and a loss of tissues. Vata caused by deficiency resembles the extreme aging process.

Essential Oils that balance Vata

Saffron- this oil is known to have the properties, which balance kapha and vata and aggravate pita.

Ashavgandha- this oil is known to have the properties, which balance all doshas.

Bergamont- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Vata, Kapha and aggravate Pitta.

Camphor- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Vata, Kapha and aggravate Pitta.

Orange- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Vata, Kapha and aggravate Pitta.

Frankincense- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Vata, Kapha and aggravate Pitta.

Sandalwood- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Vata, Pitta and neutralize Kapha.

Turmeric- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Vata, Kapha and aggravate Pitta.

Vetivert- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Vata and aggravate Kapha, Pitta.

ESSENTIAL OILS FOR PITTA IMBALANCE

By intake of pungent, uncooked, burning, sour, alkaline food etc. exposure to heat, eating too much red meat, salt, spicy or sour foods, indigestion and irregularity of meals, exercising at midday, drugs especially antibiotics, late night working, too much intellectual work/thinking, alcohol, fatigue, anger, hate, fear, emotions, gets the Pitta aggravated and extinguishes the fire by flooding over like hot water. Thus the patients have a yellowish tinge. Pitta constitution is frequently prone to an imbalance in Pitta. As a result, they are frequently subjected to:

  • Acidity and Peptic ulcers.
  • Inflammatory conditions in other organs.
  • Psychosomatic diseases, due to persistent stress.
  • Skin diseases like hyper-sensitive reactions, Photo-dermatitis.Because Pitta is hot and wet, it is treated with cooling, heat dispelling, drying, nutritive and calming oils. The tastes for reducing Pitta are sweet, astringent, and bitter.

Essential Oils for Pitta balance:

Clove- this oil treats diseases of pita, kapha and neutralize vata.
Sandalwood- this oil is known to have the properties that alleviate Vata, Pitta and neutralize Kapha.
Tea Tree- this oil is known to have the properties that balance all three Doshas namely, Vata, Kapha and Pitta.
Neroli- this oil is known to have the properties that alleviate Pitta Kapha and aggravate Vata.
Jasmine- this oil is known to have the properties that alleviate Pitta Kapha and aggravate Vata.
Lavnender- this oil is known to have the properties that alleviate Pitta Kapha and neutralize Vata.

ESSENTIAL OILS FOR KAPHA IMBALANCE

Because Kapha constituents are water and earth; it is predominately cold, moist, slow and heavy in nature. Kapha is aggravated by intake of food, which is heavy, too unctuous, cold etc. Over-eating, excessive intake of water, exposure to cold, eating too much sweet, meat, fats, cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt, fried food, excessive use of salt and sleeping just after meals, extinguishes the fire. Then the affected person digests the food with difficulty and is inflicted with nausea, vomiting, anorexia, sliminess and sweetness in mouth, cough, spitting and coryza. He feels his heart as stretched, abdomen as still and heavy and has foul, sweet eructation, malaise and lack of desire for women. He passes stool as broken mixed with ama (toxicants), mucus and heavy.
It can be treated with warming, drying, lightening and stimulating therapy. The tastes that improve or balance Kapha are pungent, bitter and astringent. Pungent is the most important because it is exactly opposite from Kapha, being light, hot and dry.

Essential Oils that balance Kapha

Indian Bal berry- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Vata, Kapha and aggravate Pitta.

Turmeric- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Vata, Kapha and aggravate Pitta.
Camphor- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Kapha Vata and aggravate Pitta.
Juniper Berry- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Kapha Vata and aggravate Pitta.
Chamomile Roman- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Kapha, Pitta and aggravate Vata.
Cardamom- this oil is known to have the properties, which alleviate Kapha Vata and aggravate Pitta.
Saffron- this oil is known to have the properties, which balance kapha and vata and aggravate pita.