What is aromatherapy? Exploring the power of essential oils

Aromatherapy is a holistic therapeutic treatment that uses essential oils from natural plant extracts to enhance both physical and emotional health. It has an array of benefits for improving the health of the mind, body and spirit, promoting overall balance and harmony. It is often used as a complementary treatment to modern medicine.

“Essential oils have been used for centuries to help promote health and wellbeing, working through sense of smell and skin absorption,” Elle Zavou, endota Wellness College trainer says.

Aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions. This can help provide relief from anxiety, depression and stress as well as improving sleep and general mood.

What are essential oils?
Essential oils are concentrated chemical compounds from plants extracts. Different parts of the plant such as the flower, bark, leaves or fruit are used to extract the oil and fragrance through steam, water or cold pressing.

“They can be used in a number of ways. You can add a few drops to a carrier oil like grapeseed or even olive oil and apply them topically, they can also be gently inhaled, added to skin care products or even cleaning products. You can also diffuse or spritz the oils throughout a room and they’re great in a bath for complete relaxation,” Elle said.

Diffusers have quickly gained popularity as a method to practice aromatherapy. A diffuser uses ultrasonic vibration or movement, to turn water into a vapour so the essential oil scent is dispersed into the air. More traditional oil burners use a simple heat method, by using a candle to heat water and evaporate the volatile oils into the air.

What different oils can do for you
There are many essential oils to choose from, so we asked Elle to step through some of the most popular options and what they can do for you.

Lavender is well known for its calming and relaxing qualities. Elle says it’s a musthave in anyone’s aromatherapy kit. It is perfect added to a warm bath to help relieve stress or by adding a few drops to your pillow, it can promote a more restful sleep.

This is Elle’s favourite essential oil because of its extraordinary health benefits. It can help rejuvenate the skin and support healthy cellular, immune, nervous and digestive functions. You can apply this oil topically to help reduce skin imperfections and Elle also recommends massaging on the bottom of the feet.

– This citrus-based oil has the ability to be both uplifting and calming, so is ideal to help with anxious and sad feelings. Elle says it’s perfect to diffuse when stressed.

Ylang Ylang
It is used the help reduce tension, stress and promotes a positive outlook. Many people use it to help with headaches and it’s great added to an Epson salt bath for relieving tired muscles.

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