Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy that is based on the use of concentrated plant essences. The essential oils that aromatherapists use are extracted from flowers, leaves, roots, peel, resin or bark.
Plant oils have been used as therapy and cosmetics for thousands of years with records going back to ancient Egypt, China and India. This is where the term essential oil comes from.
If you suffer from any of the following conditions, aromatherapy may be the answer:
• pain relief
• digestive problems
• menstrual or menopausal problems
Aromatherapy can also help to improve both your general physical and emotional well being.
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How does aromatherapy work?
When you inhale essential oils, this stimulates your olfactory system – the part of your brain that is connected to smell. A signal is transferred to your brain’s limbic system that controls emotions and stores and retrieves learned memories. This triggers chemicals to be released.
The chemicals released are thought to have different effects, causing you to feel relaxed or stimulated. In addition, the gentle massage often used to apply oils to your skin is likely to have a relaxing effect.
What will happens during my aromatherapy treatment?
It’s important to visit your GP before having aromatherapy, to help diagnose your condition and to ensure that aromatherapy is an appropriate treatment for you.
If you decide to visit an aromatherapist, you will begin by having a detailed consultation. Your aromatherapist will ask you questions about your medical history, diet, lifestyle and health problems. You can also ask any questions you might have. Your aromatherapist cannot make a medical diagnosis as he or she isn’t trained to do so. However, he or she can advise you on a course of aromatherapy treatment.
Your aromatherapist will aim to treat you holistically. This means your treatment will take into account your mind, body and spirit. They may recommend a single oil or a blend of two or three depending on your condition.
As part of your treatment your may be given a massage using essential oils that have been diluted in a carrier oil. These light oils, mainly obtained from nuts or seeds such as almond or grapeseed, ‘carry’ the essential oils and provide lubrication for massage. It’s important to tell your therapist if you have a nut or other allergy. He or she will advise you on other methods if massage isn’t suitable for you.