The Uses and Benefits of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has a wide variety of uses throughout our daily lives and can be used to stimulate, calm, balance, strengthen and support our bodies, minds, and spirits. Let’s explore aromatherapy in an effort to gain a deeper understanding for what it is, and how it is used.

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy products are made from secondary plant metabolites that are concentrated and extracted, typically by distillation, from aromatic plant parts, such as bark, flowers, grasses, leaves, needles, roots, peels, and seeds. They are volatile in nature (i.e. evaporate quickly), are rapidly absorbed topically through our skin and typically exit the body within a few hours.

What are some of the properties of aroma-therapeutics?

There is an endless array of properties of aroma-therapeutics; however, some of the common characteristics include:

  •     Antimicrobial (e.g. antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal)
  •     Analgesic
  •     Anti-inflammatory
  •     Immune stimulating
  •     Mucolytic
  •     Anti-spasmodic
  •     Tissue healing
  •     Tissue irritating and reddening
  •     Heating
  •     Relaxing
  •     Cooling
  •     Calming
  •     Anti-depressant
  •     Anti-anxiety

What are some uses of aromatherapy?

Some of the best uses of aromatherapy include:

  •     Alleviating muscular pains, strains and sprains
  •     Acute emotional trauma
  •     Skin issues (e.g. dandruff, acne, fungal)
  •     Sore throat
  •     Swollen glands
  •     Colds and flu
  •     Sinus congestion
  •     Eye inflammation

Aromatherapy also has culinary applications, and can be incorporated into homemade beauty and cleaning products!

What are some of the common applications of aromatherapy?

Some of the common ways of using aromatherapy include hydrosols and spritzers, creams, oils and lotions, as well as bath and shower products. Aromatherapy also has indications for internal and topical use (e.g. neat, diluted) and can be incorporated into clays, inhalations and diffusions.
Always exercise caution!

Never use aromatherapy before consulting with a health care professional, because although there are many safe and effective applications for the use of aromatherapy, many of the topical and internal administrations can be extremely irritating and dangerous to your health. Keep in mind: Just as there are endless benefits to the use of aromatherapy, there are also many safety considerations and contraindications, as well (e.g. use in children, pregnancy, lactation, etc.).

By Hasti Fashandi, ND (’14), resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health

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