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Aromatherapy – how it works

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 196 views

Aromatherapy uses natural scents to relieve discomfort. For example, essential oils of rose, lavender or sage are used. These oils are not just a treat for the nose. They can also alleviate many physical ailments and have a positive effect on mood. Aromatherapy takes advantage of this. Read here how aromatherapy works and what it is used for.

How does aromatherapy work?

Even in the Middle Ages, the use of essential oils to cure certain diseases was widespread. But that knowledge has been lost over the centuries. The healing power of fragrant oils was only rediscovered in the 20th century. The French doctor Jean Valnet, who published the first medical book on the subject in 1964, saw himself as the actual founder of aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy works primarily through the scent, which penetrates through the nose into the olfactory mucosa and from there migrates to the limbic system in the brain . There, the scent molecules ensure the release of pain-relieving messenger substances and endorphins, which brighten the mood.

Different effects are attributed to the various essential plant oils: peppermint, chamomile and bergamot have an analgesic effect. Lavender and lemon balm relieve cramps, thyme and lemon relieve coughs , clove and sage have an antibiotic, disinfecting effect. Tangerine, rose and geranium, for example, are considered mood-enhancing. Rosemary and thyme have a calming effect, while eucalyptus and lemongrass increase the ability to concentrate.

Essential oils can be extracted from the flowers and leaves of plants by distillation. The highly concentrated essences evaporate in the air within a short time. They are not water-soluble, but can be easily diluted in so-called emulsifiers such as almond oil , cream, milk or honey.

How is aromatherapy used?

There are different uses in aromatherapy. The best known is the use of an aroma lamp. Depending on the oil, an invigorating or calming effect can be achieved.

In the bath water, the effect of the scent is combined with the effect of the ingredients on the skin . To prevent the oils from floating on the surface of the water and evaporating, you should not drip them straight into the bath water, but mix them with a little cream, honey or milk beforehand. Foot baths are also good for aromatherapy.

Inhalation is particularly suitable for respiratory diseases.

For a mouthwash , antibacterial oils such as peppermint, rose or eucalyptus oil are particularly suitable.

Massages with essential oils have a double effect: firstly through the scent, secondly through the targeted touch. This leads to better blood circulation. Tensions and blockages are released and pain is alleviated. A foot reflex zone massage is particularly useful, since the stimulation of the reflex zones also addresses internal organs.

Aromatherapy can also be performed using compresses. Depending on the symptoms, hot (tension, cramps) or cold (fever, sunburn, headaches ) compresses are suitable.

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