I am sitting on a beach, I can feel the warmth on my skin, I can see the turquoise water, and I feel calm. Truthfully, I’m standing in one of those massive bath and body stores and I’ve just inhaled a bit of coconut infused body lotion. Amazing how just a tiny smell was able to transport me to a place of relaxation. Technically, I’ve just given myself a bit of aromatherapy, a holistic treatment that provides a multitude of health benefits.
So how exactly does aromatherapy work? Smells activate areas in our nose called smell receptors, which transport signals to areas of our brain, including the limbic system. The limbic system, linked to our emotions, heart rate, memory, stress, and hormone balance, then generates a response. Aromatherapy treatments involve essential oils, made from flower, herb, and tree parts, like bark, roots, peels, and petals. When the cells that give a plant its fragrant smell, or essence, are extracted from a plant, they become an essential oil. Oils can be inhaled through a diffuser or rubbed on the skin. At the direction of an experienced clinician, some essential oils can be taken internally. Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, and can have a holistic effect on the body. The benefits of aromatherapy include:
· Ease stress, anxiety, and depression
· Boost energy levels
· Strengthen the immune system
· Accelerate healing
· Improve sleep quality
· Reduce certain types of pain, including pain from kidney stones and osteoarthritis
· Increase circulation
Interested in trying it out? Aromatherapy is a complimentary therapy, so do start by having a discussion with your healthcare provider. You can then consult with a certified aromatherapist, like myself, who will start with a comprehensive medical history including your current lifestyle, diet, and health history. This information will enable your aromatherapist to come up with an individual treatment plan designed to meet your specific goals and manage your specific symptoms.