There are many people today who will testify to having experienced some benefit to their Physical, Emotional or Mental Health as a result of using Essential Oils in a way that aromatherapy practitioners would advocate. There are also many people who are gaining benefit from essential oils and do not even know it. However there are also many people who will claim that when they used the essential oils, or products containing essential oils they did absolutely nothing for them, why is this?
There are several possibilities the first being that the success's were nothing more than a placebo effect brought on by a mental state that 'desired success'. The other possibility is that whether administered by a professional or by the individual themselves the essential oils used were in some way inferior or even not true essential oils.
It is very important that we clarify this fact. To achieve some benefit from essential oils you must use high quality pure essential oils and in the correct dosage. Some companies claim to be selling 'aromatherapy' products when the product has little or no essential oils in it. Other companies just use the word (aromatherapy) as a marketing tool. How can washing up liquid provide any aromatherapy benefit? In the way that I understand the word - it cannot.
Scientific evidence to support some of the claims made about essential oils is growing daily and it is amazing how many of these studies confirm what were observational 'old wife's tales' as to the actions of the oils. What is important to understand is that one Lavender, for instance, may differ from company to company. The majority of customers do not understand this. For example Rosemary grown in Tunisia may be completely different (in composition) to Rosemary grown in Sicily. This is true of all plants. The climate and environmental conditions affect considerably the resulting essential oil make up.
Some Lavenders are stimulating, not relaxing! The other important thing to remember is that we differ, and the way that we metabolise essential oils will differ from one person to another.
OK, lets assume then we are using good quality essential oils sourced from reputable companies and that these essential oils are being applied in the correct dosage. There are many ways that essential oils can benefit you, Lavender is known to reduce heart rate (relaxing) and speed skin cell regeneration (healing). Peppermint has been proven to be a powerful pain killer. Eucalyptus and Chamomile are powerful anti inflamatories whilst Juniper berry can disperse the build up of toxins in you body. Calendula has proven to be an amazing healer and has helped many people with eczema or psoriasis. It makes a fabulous hand cream and will prevent splitting and cracking of the skin. Of course Tea Tree is now very well known, but just as well exploited, some companies making wild claims about it's abilities. However it has been proven to be excellent at killing bacteria, fungi and some viruses. Lemon, Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Marjoram are superb for relaxing muscle tissue and can even be used prior to exercise to give the muscle better duration. (one athlete claimed that a muscle oil blend improved her performance significantly). Of course we should not forget that we consume essential oils everyday in some of our food items. Basil and Rosemary for example. Carrot oil, Avocado, Thyme, Fennel ... Etc.
You may have noticed that I have cited physical examples, because that is where aromatherapy can excel in treating localised problems within our bodies. Success is easy to measure as well 'the pain went away'. When dealing with the emotions or mental states it can become a little less clear as to whether the essential oils are truly working. Even discounting the placebo affect there are so many other environmental factors that might influence an outcome that may have little to do with the essential oils themselves. However the oils may be playing an important part in the Holistic process. That said we know of some professional people who regularly use a relaxing blend of oils just be before they compete or perform. The blend is made up of Lavender, Basil, Clary Sage, Bergamot and Sandalwood. When individuals have had specific treatments by therapists they are advised not to drive for some hours afterwards, for good reason, the have become so deeply relaxed they are almost incapable of walking. Often 'patients' fall asleep on the massage couch.
Aromatherapy is a complex subject and if you have an interest you should read widely to build your knowledge. Use good quality oils and the most certainly can be of great benefit to you, your family and even your pets. (we have never needed to take our cat to the vets in 10 years) The magic of Tea Tree and Lavender!
NOTE: Essential oils can have poweful effects, and if used improperly can cause harm. Always seek advice from qualified reputable professionals or practitioners.
By Paul Crotty
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