When it comes to therapy and healing, there are various options out there that you can choose from. Some people choose to go down the traditional route and speak with a doctor, whereas others prefer to focus on holistic medications and therapy first.
There are many reasons why someone may wish to do this, and there are indeed plenty of benefits in doing so. One such treatment is aromatherapy which involves the use of essential oils – but is this considered holistic?
The short answer is yes – aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment which uses essential oils. There are many reasons you may choose to opt for aromatherapy and a lot to know about it.
So we’ve written this handy guide which explains everything you need to know about aromatherapy. If you’re ready to learn a lot more about it, then read on for more!
Aromatherapy: What To Know
We’re going to kick off our guide by looking at some of the basics about aromatherapy first, including what it is, how long it has been around and why you might want to use it. Hopefully you find what you’re looking for here.
What Is Aromatherapy?
As we briefly touched upon earlier, aromatherapy is a holistic therapy and healing treatment which uses essential oils extracted from the natural oils in plants to promote healthy well being.
Sometimes, this treatment is referred to as essential oils therapy, and it uses aromatic essential oils for the person to smell around them, in order to improve their mental, emotional and physical health.
Generally, aromatherapy is considered both a therapy and an art – and as a result, it has gained a lot of notice and recognition in the fields of science and indeed medicine.
How Long Has Aromatherapy Been Used?
Aromatherapy has been used in some shape or form for thousands of years. The cultures of India, Egypt, China and other areas in Asia have used aromatherapy by utilising balms, oils and resins from trees and plants.
Although these cultures used these oils primarily for religious or ceremonial purposes, they also believed there were healing benefits in aromatherapy.
However, it was not until around the 10th century that distillation for the essential oils began, and this was in Persia.
Hundreds of years from there, essential oils were used, but it is believed that in the 19th century, the French noticed potential in these oils for the treatment of some diseases.
In fact, it is the French that coined the term aromatherapy through René-Maurice Gattefossé’s book.
He was a chemist that had previously used essential oils in medicine, notably he used lavender to treat burns.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
Aromatherapy can sometimes be a little confusing as a concept. Essentially, the process works through absorbing the products in your skin or via smell. There are various products you can buy that help you to do this. These include things like:
- Bath salts
- Body oils and creams
- Clay masks
- Hot/cold compresses
Many people choose to use a variety of these products to achieve what they are looking for.
It’s important to note at this point though that, if you choose to go down the aromatherapy route, be sure you’re purchasing these essential oils from reputable sellers.
What Are The Benefits Of Aromatherapy?
There have been numerous studies and claims over the years about the benefits of aromatherapy. While more studies are needed to confirm some claims, typically it is accepted that aromatherapy can help with things like:
- Pain management
- Sleep quality
- A reduction of stress
- Management of anxiety
- Boost of immunity or to fight illnesses
- Relieve sinuses
- Digestive trouble
- Sore joints and muscles
There have been numerous claims about aromatherapy helping with more serious conditions like forms of cancer too.
However, there is very little scientific evidence of this and, while aromatherapy could help with some associated symptoms, it can’t be your first thought.
You are best advised to seek medical attention and care for things like that and not to use aromatherapy as a primary treatment.
What Does Holistic Mean?
It’s quite common for people to look for holistic medicines and treatments but not understand what the word holistic means. Definition from the Oxford English Dictionary explains that holistic is:
“Characterised by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of an illness.”
In other words, the approach of holistic medicine is to look at the whole person and try to improve numerous aspects of a person’s health or mind which could potentially lead to the treatment of a problem(s).
This sort of approach can be very useful for a number of ailments. Specifically, it’s a good approach for things that can cause other problems.
For example, if you are someone who is having trouble sleeping – this might cause you other problems like anger or irritability.
Therefore, if you are able to treat your sleeping problem using holistic medication such as aromatherapy, you could find your symptoms alleviating at the same time.
Should Everybody Opt For Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy might be of use to a whole host of different people, however it is not advised for everybody.
First, and as we mentioned briefly earlier, if you are someone with a very serious medical condition, you need to speak with a GP first before these types of treatment.
It’s also important to know whether or not you have allergies. As these essential oils can be used on your skin too, you should know what is in these oils and whether or not you have allergies to them, so you avoid any complications.
If you are living with narcolepsy, it is advised that you do not light candles for aromatherapy, in case you leave a lit candle unattended while you sleep.
Additionally, if you have children, be mindful if they are around lit candles or if they have allergies themselves.
It might be worth asking the store you purchased the essential oils (see also: 5 Best Essential Oils For Sleep)from to discover if the oils are safe around children.
That is also why it is critical that you purchase these oils from reputable sellers, so you’re fully aware of what is in the product.
Aromatherapy And Other Treatments
Aromatherapy can be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, depending on what you are hoping to treat. For example, you may wish to combine yoga and meditation with aromatherapy.
These together could potentially improve your mood, emotional well being and physical well being – along with the improvement of your sleep quality.
There’s also nothing wrong with combining aromatherapy with things like herbal teas or mindfulness training. All of these things are pretty harmless and have many more benefits than downsides.
However, and this point must be stressed, you should always speak with a GP for serious conditions or if you feel your life is being significantly impacted by a condition.
The Bottom Line
And that’s all you need to know about aromatherapy. Yes, it’s a holistic therapy and it has plenty of potential uses, but never use it as a primary solution if you have a serious condition that needs immediate attention.