Soothe Your Stress with Aromatherapy

“The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.” — Hippocrates, the father of medicine, 4th century BC

Aromatherapy is not a new idea, though it has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to the recent general interest in alternative medicine. The use of scent in healing is actually documented to as far back as 2000 BC.

There are many products on the market claiming to be “aromatherapy,” from bath oils to candles, but while these are certainly enjoyable, most do not contain the essential oils necessary to be considered true aromatherapy. True aromatherapy involves the use of extracted plant essences, or essential oils, for therapeutic purposes.

For managing stress, there are many useful essential oils and various combinations and methods for their use. Among the oils most helpful for stress are, bergamot, chamomile, geranium, lavender, lemon, neroli (orange blossom), rose and ylang ylang. Among these, the most versatile and often recommended is lavender.

Lavender is considered by aromatherapists to be the one essential oil that every home should have on hand. Aside from its many healing properties, it calms, soothes and relaxes quite effectively. For anyone suffering the effects of stress, lavender would be an excellent choice to begin with.

There are many methods for using essential oils. Here are a few favorites to try with lavender or your choice of essence for a soothing escape from stress.

As massage oil – When essential oils are applied directly to the skin, as in massage, drops are added to a base oil, as the essential oils are highly concentrated. There are many base oils to choose from, among them, almond, apricot kernel, corn, jojoba, olive, peanut and wheat germ oil. The general rule is to add five drops of essential oil to one teaspoon of your base oil and massage your tension away.

In the bath – Add a maximum of eight drops of essential oil to the bath. Soak for at least ten minutes, relaxing and breathing deeply.

On a tissue or handkerchief – One drop of essential oil on a tissue can be sniffed any time of day when you need a lift or a soothing break.

As a room spray – Add four drops of essential oil to a cup of warm water in a plant spray bottle. Spray around the room and enjoy the aroma.

For my own hands-on research, my very tense neck and shoulders were massaged with a combination of lavender, neroli and lemon grass in a base of wheat germ oil. The effect was very relaxing. I may have gone a bit heavy on the lemon though, the kids thought I smelled like Fruit Loops. My more mature sense of smell appreciated the delicate blend of lavender and citrus, a combination that I would definitely recommend. Just be sure to resist the urge to use more than the recommended number of drops, as they really are highly concentrated. Really.

Aromatherapy is a complex science involving the various healing properties of each oil and effective combinations, uses and methods of use. If you are interested in delving into the world of aromatherapy, I recommend The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood. It thoroughly covers every aspect of aromatherapy, from beauty and first aid to pet care and home use, as well as therapeutic uses for men, women, infants, children and the elderly. It also includes an extensive section on many forms of stress.

For an excellent Internet source of both information and oils, visit Birch Hill Happenings – Aromatherapy, Essential Oils and Supplies at http://birchhilhappenings.com.This site includes lots of information about aromatherapy in general, the basic oils and their uses as well as “do’s and don’ts” in the use of essential oils. They also offer a large product line of quality oils and convenient Internet shopping.

Remember the old Calgon commercial? They really had the right idea!

“Lavender, take me awayâÂ?¦”

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