The Art of Aromatherapy

Written by Leanna Serras

Aromatherapy is the use of scent to improve the health of the body, mentally, physically, or emotionally, through the use of plant extracts called essential oils. The essential oils have therapeutic properties that correct various imbalances depending upon the method of use, quantity of the oil, and the combination of oils used.

The limbic system of the brain is responsible for moods and emotions. When therapeutic fragrances are inhaled, they travel through the olfactory receptors to this area of the brain and alter feelings: Lavender is calming; peppermint is stimulating; Clary-sage is an antidepressant; hops is sedating.

Essential oils can improve migraine headaches, reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of colds, treat menstrual irregularities, stimulate the immune system, alleviate nervousness, prevent infection, and many other things. Some essential oils are safe for babies, and a large number are safe for children and animals, as well.

Essential Oil Details

Essential oils contain naturally-occurring chemical compounds that act in specific ways; some are stimulants or depressants, others have anti-inflammatory properties, still others are expectorants and diuretics. Many essential oils have antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, and/or anti-carcinogenic properties.

It is important to understand the properties of the oils you use, as well as the synergy between oils used in combination. Although most essential oils have very few side effects or dangers, some shouldn't be used in pregnancy, with young children, during menses, by someone with cardiac problems, and in other circumstances.

Essential oils should nearly always be diluted in a carrier base; an oil, cream, gel, or liquid. They should be treated as medicine and stored safely out of the reach of children. Care should be taken when using essential oils with pharmacological medications.

Learn about the properties and safety of essential oils:

Index of Essential Oils: Alphabetical index of common oils with chemical and historical information.

Essential Oil Safety: Basic safety information, as well as information about using essential oils in the presence of specific conditions.

Ways to Use Essential Oils

Essential oils can be used for aromatherapy in many ways:

Learn other great ideas for using essential oils:

Aromatherapy Products

Aromatherapy candles are a simple way to target a specific mental or emotional matter. Use them to create the particular mood you'd like. Choose candles made with real essential oils rather than chemical fragrances.

An aromatherapy diffuser is a machine that uses air and/or water, similar to a vaporizer, to circulate the scent of the essential oil(s) placed in a chamber. This is an excellent method for help with insomnia.

Choose high-quality carrier oils as the base for the essential oils you use for massage and other topical applications. The base oils themselves have therapeutic properties; some are healing to the skin, some especially good for moisturizing, others better for problem skin.

You can also find a variety of discount fragrances to blend, but the higher quality the oils, the more potent the scents will be.

Blending Tips

Learn more about creating blends:

Aromatic Blending: Basic information about harmonizing scent, how to blend, and a chart of top-, middle-, and base-note oils.

Aromatherapy Articles

Aromatherapy is an enjoyable way to create ambiance, boost spirits, and treat problems. After learning some simple basics and proper safety precautions, anyone can use aromatherapy techniques as a way to enhance their well-being.