What Are The Benefits of Aromatherapy and Who Should Use it

Sadly there are skeptics who view the use of essential oils as some sort of natural health ‘fad’, but Aromatherapy has actually been around for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt essential oils of frankincense and cedarwood were used in the mummification process for their ‘preserving’ qualities. When the body of King Tutankhamen was discovered the bandages wrapped around his body still carried the scent of these oils! Aromatherapy was also used in ancient Greece. Hippocrates recommended perfumed oils be used in medical treatments to prevent wounds from becoming infected. Even in the 20th century the benefits of Aromatherapy were well known and hospitals in France burned sprigs of rosemary in the wards to purify the air and help prevent the spread of infection.

Aromatherapy works holistically with the body, helping to bring balance back to mind, body and spirit. In this busy, fast-paced world it is easy to neglect our emotional and spiritual selves, but they are just as important in helping to maintain positive health and well being. 17-years ago I had a serious accident, resulting in a broken hip and elbow. Essential oils played an integral part in my overall recovery, which further fueled my interest in the benefits of Aromatherapy. Oils such as lavender, juniper, rosemary and marjoram were used in conjunction with massage to help promote circulation and lymphatic flow as well as helping to relieve pain, stiffness and achiness. Although my body was beginning to heal my emotions were all over the place. I felt very, depressed, anxious and had trouble accepting what had happened to me. Oils such as orange, bergamot, neroli, jasmine, benzoin and rose gave me emotional comfort and worked to lift my spirits and help me accept myself again. I believe this is where the real ‘healing’ took place.


Photo by David Eccles @ Flickr

Incorporating Aromatherapy into your daily life couldn’t be easier and the benefits you experience will make you wonder why you waited! Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways including in the bath, as a compress, in a burner, on a tissue or as part of a massage and skin care regime. On a physical level essential oils such as lavender, marjoram and chamomile can help reduce pain and inflammation. Frankincense, sandalwood, rose and cypress have astringent properties meaning they help to tighten tissues and prevent fluid loss, making them ideal for mature skin. Jasmine and carrot seed can be used to help prevent stretch marks, while lavender, myrrh and benzoin can help wounds to heal and in some cases may even help prevent scar tissue from forming.

Perhaps some of the most important benefits of essential oils are their antifungal antiseptic, antiviral, antibiotic and immuno-stimulant properties. By helping to strengthen your body’s immune system, the impact of yearly colds and flus can be significantly lessened. Lavender, eucalyptus, ti-tree and rosemary are particularly good oils to use. Aromatherapy is a natural treatment and essential oils are derived from the leaves, petals, twigs, fruit and bark of plants. There are no scary additives and nothing unnatural about essential oils – they really are Mother Nature’s gift to us. Of course they may not work as instantly as over the counter products, but they are powerful and should be respected. Always blend essential oils with base oil, never put essential oils directly on the skin. If you have any medical conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, low or high blood pressure or are pregnant – always consult with a qualified aromatherapist first. Most oils are perfectly safe but there are a few, which are contraindicated in certain situations, for example grapefruit should not be used by anyone taking medication for high blood pressure.


Photo by Matt @ Flickr

One of the most powerful benefits of Aromatherapy is the positive effect it has on our emotional and spiritual well-being. Even the subtlest whiff of orange blossom can immediately lift our mood. Many oils like lavender, ylang ylang, clary sage and bergamot have relaxing and sedating properties, making them the perfect tonic after a stress-filled day. For those who need to keep a clear head, rosemary, basil and grapefruit are great for promoting mental clarity and focus. Aromatherapy can also help boost our mood when we are feeling down and not at our best. Geranium, mandarin, petitgrain, sandalwood and rose are just a few of the oils that can uplift while also keeping us emotionally grounded.

Whether you’re a stressed out parent, hard working student or high-flying executive, you can enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of Aromatherapy. Make your own skin care blends, use it in the bath, have a massage or use an aroma burner. The key is making Aromatherapy a part of your daily life.