What do you need to know about aromatherapy?
What do you think of when you hear the word 'aromatherapy'? Perhaps wellness and fantastic fragrances? That is certainly true. But aromatherapy is so much more than that. It is an alternative and natural method based on essential oils, which – if used in the right way – can give a boost to your physical, spiritual and emotional health. In this blog, you can discover how it works and how exactly you can best use it.
Aromatherapy in a nutshell
ffThe word 'aromatherapy' is a contraction of the Greek words aroma, meaning 'fragrance', and therapia, meaning 'care' or 'treatment'. In this instance, 'fragrance' does not refer to a pleasing smell or perfume, but to the volatile essences emitted by powerful and natural essential oils. These essential oils are obtained from parts of certain aromatic plants and contain a wide range of beneficial bio-chemical properties.
All plants have an aroma or fragrance, which they use for different purposes. Some use it to attract insects; others to repel insects or keep disease at bay. As long ago as medieval times people were using steam distillations to release the fragrances contained in plants. Even today, essential oils are still extracted using broadly the same technique.
Not all essential oils available on the market are the same. So how can you tell which ones are authentic and which ones are not? Each essential oil is comprised of specific molecules that belong to different bio-chemical families. These molecules determine not only the unique fragrance but also the unique characteristics of the oil in question. In other words, they serve as a kind of 'identity card' to prove the oil's authenticity.
How does aromatherapy work?
The effects of the different essential oils are very wide ranging. From anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial to cramp-relieving, and so much more. But their main purpose? Relaxation, stimulation and purification.
Physalis distinguishes between seven different fields of application, each with its own specially formulated products.
How do you use aromatherapy?
The way that essential oils achieve their effect on your body or your environment depends upon the way you use them. This can either be by inhalation, oral ingestion or via the skin.
The nose plays an important role in aromatherapy. Why? Because your olfactory organ is connected directly to your brain via the tractus olfactorius (olfactory tract). Did you know that the receptors in the nose can distinguish between 10,000 different aromas? It is these receptors that send signals directly to the limbic system in the brain. This system, which is part of the brain stem, regulates our emotions, motivation and pleasure, as well as the working of our emotional memory. This explains why smell, memory and emotion are all so closely connected with each other. The nasal receptors also have a direct connection to the hypothalamus, which controls the body's autonomous nervous and hormonal systems (see figure).
Put simply, aromatherapy has a direct effect on the brain. For example, essential oils trigger the release of substances like serotonin and endorphins. Serotonin, also known as the happiness hormone, is a neuro-transmitter that has a positive effect on our mood and emotions. If your serotonin level is too low, this can result in sleepless nights and feelings of depression. By contrast, a proper serotonin level in the brain promotes calm, satisfaction, open-mindedness and mental clarity. In other words, completely zen!
How essential oils best work:
- Diffuse 5 to 10 drops of essential oil in a spray unit. This not only brings a pleasant fragrance into your living and/or working space, but also improves the quality of the air. Most essential oils have a purifying effect and clean, pure air in your home or office is essential for your health, particularly for people who have allergies. As an additional useful function, essential oils are also great for keeping away those tiresome mosquitoes on balmy summer evenings!
- Inhale the aromas during an invigorating massage or bath. Inhalation is an excellent way to soothe and relax your throat and airways. The essential oils unblock any obstructions in your nose, so that you can once again breathe more easily.
Via the skin
What could be nicer than a revitalising massage, a relaxing bath or a refreshing shower? With essential oils, you can transform these treats into a true wellness experience. Essential oils penetrate the skin easily, allowing them to perform their health-enhancing effects. For example, they purify, repair and protect the skin, ease itching caused by insect bites and have a soothing influence on tired muscles.
How essential oils best work. First dilute the essential oil in a vegetable oil (e.g. sweet almond oil). Essential oils are so highly concentrated that it is always necessary to dilute them. Otherwise, they can cause irritation or a burning sensation
Some essential oils can be safely swallowed, but this is something with which you need to be careful. Always read the instructions on the packaging carefully and never carry out your own experiments. In fact, it always better to seek the advice and supervision of a therapist before ingesting essential oils. Another must: always dilute the oils in a carrier, such as a vegetable oil or honey.
What aromatherapy products can you find in the Physalis range?
Essential oils are the fragrant, volatile components of medicinal plants, herbs, flowers, fruits and seeds. These powerful and naturally pure oils form the basis for aromatherapy. Aromatherapy often makes use of combinations of different essential oils. In this way, the individual essential oils are able to strengthen each other, so that they can together form a powerful mix for a particular application.
With its extensive product information, Physalis takes you on a voyage of discovery into the fascinating world of aromatherapy. Let yourself be inspired by our numerous recipes and tips, so that you can start your own exploration of what aromatherapy has to offer.