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Aromatherapy oils are natural oils derived from the aromatic plant parts, especially their flowers, leaf, and bark. They are used to achieve relaxation, alleviate stress, and treat various physical as well as emotional disorders. Basically, they ignite your senses and enliven your body.

However, research shows that they are beneficial for various disorders as well. For example, a review study published in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, suggested that a blend of essential oils, lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli at a ratio of 6:2:0.5 can reduce anxiety, increase sleep, and stabilize the blood pressure of patients undergoing cardiac stent insertion.

Similarly, peppermint oil, ginger oil, or a blend of essential oils of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom, are very effective in reducing nausea.
These oils are rarely used alone, they are usually blended with other essential oils, mineral oil or other ingredients. Essential oils are heavily concentrated, so it is almost always used diluted.

There are hundreds of essential oils available and these oils are made up of thousands of components that are not easily synthesizable. So essential oils have their distinct role in the holistic mind-body healing system.

Aromatherapy essential oils are applied to the body in the form of

Aerial diffusion – sprays, sachets, air fresheners

Inhalation – steam inhalation, vapour therapy

Topical application – massage, bath, lotions and creams, compresses

Here are some commonly used aromatherapy essential oils you may like to have in your medicine cabinet or bathroom cabinets.

Lavender oil

Lavender oil is a very popular essential oil because of its sweet aroma and wonderful qualities. In 1910, the French chemist and perfumer Rene Maurice Gattefosse burnt his hand badly in his laboratory.

Undiluted lavender oil was the first available compound lying nearby. He treated his hand with the oil and the pain eased immediately. His hand healed quickly without any sign of infection or scar. Incidentally Gattefosse coined the term aromatherapy in 1937.
It has other uses as well.

One of its most common uses is as an insecticide. Many of us have used this oil in sachet and placed it between linen for a fresh aroma and also to keep insects at bay.

It relieves stress and anxiety and promotes calmness. A caution – excess of lavender oil can actually act as stimulant

It is very useful in depression

It helps relieve headache and earache

Treats dysmenorrhea and eases labour pains

Basil oil

Extracted from the herb Ocimumbasilicum, basil oil has clear, light and peppery aroma. Its uses are plenty and varied

Awakens the mind to clarity of thoughts

Steadies the nerves

Relieves stress related headaches

Eases sinus congestions, asthma, bronchitis

Treats menstrual problems

Minimizes uric acid in the body, thus has a beneficial effect on gout and arthritis

Refreshes the skin, controls acne, and soothes insect bites

Sandalwood oil

Sandalwood oil is a versatile oil which has spiritual applications, emotional applications as well as therapeutic uses. No wonder it is so expensive!

Sandalwood oil used in the incense sticks to stimulate a sense of awareness and tranquility. You can meditate better with sandalwood oil as it helps with grounding and chakra work.

According to a Burmese tradition, on the last day of the year, women sprinkle people with a mixture of rosewater and sandalwood oil to wash away the sins of the year.

Smelling or massaging with sandalwood oil helps calm you emotionally and instils a sense of inner peace.

It helps treat physical conditions such as oily skin, scars, stretch marks, and even bronchitis

Urinary tract infections are also treated with sandalwood oil

It is used in conventional medicine to treat inflammatory and eruptive skin diseases

So much so, a study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention suggests that sandalwood oil could be an effective chemoprotective agent against skin cancer.

Chamomile oil

Whenever you want to calm your nerves, the first thing that comes to mind is chamomile oil.

Chamomile oil is light blue in color with apple-like fragrance and is a great stress buster.

This essential oil is of two types – one is Roman and the other is German chamomile. They can be differentiated if you look at their stem. The Roman chamomile is a herb has a hairy stem, while German chamomile is a slightly bigger plant with hairless branching stem.
Although both have calming and stress relieving properties, they are used to treat different conditions.

Rosemary oil

Rosemary is known for its refreshing effects on the spirit. Actually, its name comes from the Latin word ‘Rosmarinus’ which means ‘dew of the sea’. It is one of the best essential oils to combat exhaustion. It has other uses too.

Ancient Greek students and scholars used to wear a garland of Rosemary to increase their memory. Today, we use the rosemary essential oil for the same purpose – stimulating the brain, improve memory, and mental clarity.

Rosemary oil is also useful in clearing dandruff and improving scalp health in general. It brightens the dull skin and helps loosen stiff muscles. It is also known to boost the functioning of liver and gall bladder.

Ylang-ylang oil

This extremely fragrant exotic essential oil is well known for its calming and rejuvenating properties. Ylangylang oil helps alleviate stress and anxiety, and is effective for depression and when coping with anger. A recent Portugese study found that aromatherapy with ylangylang oil significantly improved self-esteem perception in the study subjects.

The study also found that massage with 20 percent concentration of ylangylang oil for 20 minutes lowered blood pressure in the study subjects. An earlier study had also found that inhalation of ylangylang oil reduced blood pressure and heart rate. They also found the oil to have a sedative effect.

Essential oils, however, have their share of adverse effects. Dermatitis is the most common adverse effect of essential oils, especially that of lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and ylang-ylang. Rosemary oil is also not recommended for people with epilepsy and pregnant women.

Use them judiciously and lose yourself (rather, find yourself) in the heavenly fragrance of aromatherapy essential oils.

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