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Fragrant Healing with Aromatherapy

By Arti Grover

Aromatherapy is one of those rare forms of treatment that can improve your quality of life by serving as a comforting ritual to reduce stress, enhance relaxation, and relieve anxiety. It relieves psychosomatic symptoms, and alleviates some emotional disorders.


Aromatherapy is one of those rare forms of treatment that can improve your quality of life by serving as a comforting ritual to reduce stress, enhance relaxation, and relieve anxiety. It relieves psychosomatic symptoms, and alleviates some emotional disorders. This is just as well, because few doctors believe aromatherapy has any significant effects on health. Whatever relief it confers, they speculate, stems from emotional response to aromatherapy’s pleasing scents, rather than any physiological effects.

Used as a comforting ritual to reduce stress, enhance relaxation, and relieve anxiety, aromatherapy may indeed improve your well being, relieve psychosomatic symptoms, and alleviate some emotional disorders. For some people, it provided a respite from insomnia. Others have found it to be an effective remedy for impotence. A few people even report that it eases the pain of arthritis and relieves postpartum discomfort. However, medical science can find no physical reason for these effects.

Treatments
Although many gift boutiques have taken to marketing scented candles, pomanders,and potpourri as ‘aromatherapy,’ genuine treatments rely on the use of highly concentrated essential oils extracted from various healing herbs. In most cases, these oils are produced by steam distillation or cold pressing from a plant’s flowers, leaves, branches, bark, rind, or roots. The volatile, flammable oils are then mixed with a`carrier’—usually a vegetable oil such as soy, evening primrose, or almond—or diluted in alcohol before being applied to the skin, sprayed in the air, or inhaled.

Although you can pursue treatments under the supervision of a certified aromatherapist, many people simply use the oils as a form of home remedy. There is a notable lack of agreement on such issues as the amount of oil necessary to achieve a desired effect, the most effective method of administration, and the length of time necessary to continue treatment.

Typical Approaches

Inhalation
: For problems with respiration, try adding 6 to 12 drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Place a towel over your head, and deeply breathe the scented vapours.

Diffusion: Aromatherapists often suggest spraying oil-containing compounds into the air. This technique is said to calm the nerves, enhance a feeling of well being, and even to improve respiratory conditions. In any case, it freshens the air.

Commercially available spray units can be used. Add 10 drops of an essence to 7 tablespoonfuls of water. If you will not be using the entire amount at one time, add 1 tablespoonful of vodka or pure alcohol as a preservative. Shake the mixture and fill the sprayer.

Massage: Rubbing aromatic oil into the skin may be either calming or stimulating, depending on the type of oil used. Some people use it as a remedy for muscles sprains and soreness. Most preparations contain 5 drops of essential oil blended with a light base oil. A higher concentration could irritate the skin.

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