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Breeze Through with Essential Oils And Aromatherapy

Find out how aromatherapy and essential oils can improve your health

Aromatherapy uses the essential oils and compounds of plants, flowers and herbs to bring about emotional and physical healing. It works on the basis that the scent of the essential oils triggers the limbic system; the part of the brain linked with emotion. The healing plant oils are applied in a variety of ways including via massage, baths and inhalations. Commonly used essential oils include flower oils such as chamomile, roman chamomile, lavender, rose and jasmine, plus herbs such as rosemary oil, and oils extracted from trees such as eucalyptus, sandalwood and vetiver. Because it works on many levels, aromatherapy can help to manage pain, improve sleep quality, reduce stress, relieve sore joints and overcome symptoms of depression and anxiety.

All about aromatherapy oils

Want to try the ancient therapy of aromatherapy, but not sure where to start?

Holistic aromatherapy is one of the most gentle and versatile of the complementary healing arts. It harnesses the natural, therapeutic powers of essential oils to relieve a whole host of physical and emotional complaints. These range from stress, anxiety and fatigue, through to insomnia, aches and pains, and a problem skin condition.

Natural essential oils are extracted from aromatic flowers, leaves, bark, roots, fruits and berries. They are complex substances that have many different properties. Like any other medicine, essential oils have a powerful effect and can chemically alter the body, albeit in a completely natural way! The aromatherapy oil enters the body via inhalation and by absorption through the pores of the skin.

From here, it enters the bloodstream and travels to the different organs and body systems where the oil begins to trigger healing.

Pure essential oil is derived from plant substances which have been used for thousands of years, so they can be trusted to help with our health problems in a safe and natural way.

Here’s on how to use essential oils for a range of common ailments.

Calming essential oils for stress

Try using essential oils in a bath for a relaxing aromatherapy session. Use two drops each of bergamot mint, rose oil and geranium mixed with 15ml of bath base or a cup of full fat milk. Bergamot mint is excellent for emotional wellbeing. While it eases feelings of anxiety, fear or panic, it also helps to lift the emotions. It’s a great choice when you need a calming oil that isn’t sedative: perfect for an aromatherapy bath. Rose helps to alleviate anxiety and nervous tension. It is soothing and nurturing, offering mental, emotional and physical support during times of stress. Geranium has an antidepressant effect and helps to balance and lift moods and emotions.

Essential oils for arthritis and sore joints

Try mixing two drops each of plai, black pepper and sweet marjoram in 15ml of carrier oil for essential oils, such as argan, jojoba or coconut oil, and massage oil gently into the affected area. Plai has long been used by Thai massage therapists for its powerful pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory properties. It is one of the best oils for easing aches, pains and inflammation. Black pepper has also been used as a medicinal spice for thousands of years and is excellent for treating pain and stiffness. Sweet marjoram is a popular analgesic that is especially good for muscular, rheumatic and arthritic pain.”

Essential oils for concentration and energy

Try popping a couple of drops of rosemary or peppermint essential oil onto a cotton pad or tissue and inhale. Alternatively, mix up to 30 drops of lemon and peppermint oil in 100ml of water (or orange flower hydrolat) and use as a reviving room spritz to energise mind and body and dispel fatigue. Rosemary is the strongest of all the cephalic (brain-stimulating) oils. It is great, particularly first thing in the morning, to get your energy flowing and your mind focused on the day ahead. Peppermint is refreshing and promotes alertness and clarity of thought, and lemon oil has a fruity, uplifting aroma that leaves you feeling energised and inspired.

Essential oils for headaches

If you’re searching for essential oils for migraines and headaches, try sniffing basil or peppermint essential oils from a cotton pad or tissue, or rubbing a few drops of neat lavender oil into the temples. Basil has been used for treating headaches for hundreds of years. Like rosemary, it has a cephalic effect and can help to clear the head and relieve mental fatigue. Peppermint oil and lavender essential oil have an analgesic effect and work well together, with the stimulating peppermint helping to counteract the sedative nature of lavender.

Essential oils to help digestive problems

“Try peppermint, ginger essential oil, mandarin or fennel. Choose up to three essential oils and blend up to two drops of each in 15ml of carrier oil. Then massage into the tummy in a clockwise direction. Alternatively, diffuse two to three drops of each oil in an aromatherapy diffuser or candle burner. Peppermint is one of the best oils for all types of digestive problems, while ginger has a calming effect on the digestive system and helps to ease nausea (including travel and morning sickness), diarrhoea and stomach cramps. Mandarin acts as a digestive tonic and antispasmodic and is great for calming the tummy and indigestion. Fennel speeds digestion and can help to soothe indigestion, nausea and wind.

Essential oils to get rid of a cough

Try a steam inhalation with two drops of ravensara, three drops of eucalyptus oil and three drops of benzoin. Ravensara is a strong antiviral with expectorant properties. It’s great for boosting immunity and fighting illness. Eucalyptus is a popular decongestant and expectorant and is ideal for relieving coughs, colds and other respiratory ailments. Benzoin is also an effective expectorant and has been used for years in friar’s balsam – a traditional natural remedy for chesty coughs and colds.

Essential oils for a better night’s sleep

Try using chamomile, lavender and cedarwood. Pop a drop of each on a cotton pad and leave it in your pillowcase or next to your bed at night time. Lavender and chamomile soothe stresses and strains, helping you to relax and unwind. Cedarwood inspires peace and calm and is thought to aid the production of melatonin – a hormone that supports the body’s natural sleep cycle.

Essential oils for the menopause

Try a daily diffuser blend with six to eight drops in total of geranium, rose and ylang ylang. Diffuse the oils for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. The same oils can also be used in a massage blend – use two drops of each in 15ml of carrier oil. Geranium and rose have an affinity with the female body and can help to balance both the hormones and emotions. Ylang ylang has a relaxing, calming effect – helping to regulate mood and ease stress and anxiety.

A DIY aromatherapy massage is a great way to bring about hormonal balance. Just add three drops of geranium, three drops of clary sage, and four drops of cypress to 20ml of blending oil and massage over your abdomen and lower back every other night. Geranium is a tonic for the adrenal cortex, which regulates the release of hormones, helping to maintain hormonal balance, while clary sage helps balance oestrogen levels, and cypress regulates testosterone.

Essential oils for rosacea

If you’re struggling with skin irritation or other problems, take a look at our article on how to combat a range of skin ailments, including information on how to use essential oils for rosacea.

What are the benefits of aromatherapy?

Anti-aging benefits

“Essential oils have many anti-ageing benefits due to each of them having nuanced functions that work actively on physical and emotional problems,” says Michelle Roques-O’Neil, founder of Therapie Roques O’Neil. “Often, people don’t fully understand what these oils offer. Physical imbalance can be a result of emotional stress which can impact your hormones, which, in turn, can affect your vitality. Many essential oils are phytoestrogens (substances found in certain plants which can produce effects similar to that of the hormone oestrogen) and are easily absorbed through your skin. Due to this, they help to reduce dryness, as well as enhance tone; particularly in mature skin. The key oils that promote skin rejuvenation and health include patchouli, as it’s moisturising; geranium, as it heals and improves circulation; and rose, which is anti-inflammatory and refining.”

Relief from IBS

Apply peppermint oil to a base oil such as almond, and then a few drops to the palms of your hands and massage onto the lower abdomen. The oil works as an antispasmodic, which means it suppresses muscle spasm and eases the symptoms of IBS, indigestion, and menstrual cramp, as well as relieving stress and anxiety.

Clearer sinuses and cold relief

Tea tree oil often takes people back to their youths in one inhalation, as this oil is a hot topic in the world of teenage skin care. But aside from being a good remedy for acne-prone complexions, tea tree oil has immune stimulation properties to aid the body in fighting off infection, and steam distillation of the oil really wards off common colds. If you’re feeling congested, this will do the trick of easing sinuses and letting you breathe more fluidly.

You’ll breathe easier

You won’t be alone if you’ve never heard of frankincense outside of the Christmas story, but in recent years the essential oil has started to make waves in the Western world. Often referred to as ‘liquid gold’, frankincense oil helps to relax the diaphragm, which means deeper inhales and longer exhales. It also helps to soothe the mucus membranes, which means you can say goodbye to chesty coughs!

A clearer complexion and less congestion

A eucalyptus steam inhalation works wonders on the complexion, as well as the mind, by kicking headaches to the curb and improving focus. That gorgeous cooling sensation you’ll feel on the inhalation is great for respiratory ailments, which is why the oil has been popular in saunas and steam rooms for so long. It warms the mucus membranes to help break congestion, and eases the breath ahead of any brewing ailments.

Eases headaches and improves sleep

It gets some serious airtime for being the oil that gets us off to the land of nod in a heartbeat, and seeing as poor sleep is directly linked to a weakened immune system, lavender isn’t an oil that should be overlooked. On top of that, lavender acts as a mild painkiller, easing headaches, migraines or any muscular or nerve pain your body might be experiencing through the change in seasons.

Antiseptic and antifungal properties

This low creeping plant is as popular as a medicinal herb as it is a culinary favourite. Thyme’s antiseptic and antifungal properties are a great remedy for easing any symptoms of coughs or colds. It’s one of the gentler essential oils, but that’s not to say its benefits aren’t hugely powerful, especially when added to an almond base oil. Draw a bath and add a small cup to running water and say hello to improved circulation, soothed muscles and clear sinuses.

Essential oils guide for better skin

Essential oils for slimming down

On nature’s side is juniper oil; a diuretic that can aid circulation and detoxify the body, and cypress oil; an astringent with the power to firm and tone muscles. Add them to jojoba, known for its ability to remove superfluous fat deposits and toxins lodged in the tissues, and you have a slimming lotion for legs and thighs. It not only gets rid of fat without stretch marks, but can also eliminate cellulite. It’s a much cheaper alternative to liposuction, and it’s pain-free.

Essential oils for dry skin and wrinkles

Essential oils have the capability to prevent wrinkles, rejuvenate skin and slow down the ageing process. They contain antioxidants, which are phytochemicals, vitamins and nutrients that protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals, keeping skin healthy and glowing. A mixture of lavender, neroli and frankincense together with sweet almond oil massaged into the face, will stimulate blood flow. It will also help to tone and lift the face muscles, creating a naturally youthful, firm and plumped complexion.

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