This month, let’s learn a little bit about aromatherapy. Aromatherapy refers to a range of traditional and alternative therapies that use essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds. Although essential oils have been used for centuries with the aim of improving a person’s health or mood, there is limited scientific evidence and little published research on many of them.
An essential oil is a concentrated liquid obtained from raw plant material, either by distillation with water and/or steam, from the epicarp of citrus fruits by a mechanical process, or by dry distillation.
Process of Extraction by Distillation:
Process of Extraction by Cold Pressing:
There are more than 400 essential oils, and each has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed, and its effects on us. Some of the more popular essential oils include lavender, peppermint, tea tree, eucalyptus, bergamot, rosemary, chamomile.
People who use aromatherapy believe some essential oils have beneficial properties. The theory is that aromatherapy can boost well-being, relieve stress, and help to refresh the body. Some essential oils are thought to have an anti-inflammatory effect, help to fight off infection, help with sleep disturbances, relieve anxiety, change your heart or breathing rate, or make you feel calm or excited.
The most common applications of aromatherapy include massage into the skin and inhalation of vapors. These methods allow the essential oil’s chemical compounds to cross into the bloodstream. However, users should be aware that these plant products are still chemicals, and they can be harmful if used in the wrong way.
The use of essential oils is rare in evidence-based medicine. Aromatherapy can likely help in minor ways; here are a few simple tips to follow and some aromatherapy remedies to prevent and ease your discomfort during holidays:
- For example, if you’re anxious before flying on a plane, mix 3 drops of chamomile essential oil in 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and apply the blend on your solar plexus (or coeliac plexus, at the top of the stomach, in the middle of the abdomen) and wrists.
- On a long and hot ride, you may start feeling ill. To relieve the feeling of nausea, put 2 drops of peppermint or ginger oil under the tongue. You can also put a few drops of either oil on a tissue and inhale the aroma at various intervals. Another method is to mix 3 drops of peppermint or ginger oil with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and massage into your stomach area. If you do often get motion sickness, you should avoid sitting in the backseat, be sure to drink plenty of water, and eat a snack with some protein in it before departing.
- You may be traveling to the other side of the world to meet your fellow pharmacy friends. Flying long can be quite tiring for your body. On long flights, get up and walk around as often as possible and do the exercises the airline often recommends. If you suffer from swollen ankles, this can be alleviated by massaging the blend of 5 drops of geranium essential oil with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into your ankles, feet, and calves before, during, and after the flight.
- You should wear sunblock every time you go outside and reapply it every few hours, especially if you’ve just been swimming or doing physical activities causing you to sweat. Sometimes, despite being careful, you still become overexposed, and the result is a painful sunburn. Here is what could do to relieve your pain — put in the palm of your hand: 1 tablespoon of jojoba or almond oil, 5 drops of lavender essential oil. Massage and apply gently this mixture on the affected area of your skin. Aloe Vera and cooled chamomile tea are known to be effective at helping to soothe and heal a burn. A cold shower can also help.
- If you are traveling to an area where you will be affected by bothersome mosquitoes and flies, make the insect repellent blend below to take with you: 5 drops of citronella oil, 10 drops of lavender oil, 10 drops of peppermint oil, and 10 drops of thyme oil. When you are going out, mix 5 drops of this blend to 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and massage this to exposed areas of your skin. If you’ve been bitten, put 1-2 drops of a mix of lavender and geranium oil on the bite.
We hope you now know more aromatherapy. Please keep in mind essential oils are very concentrated products and may be up to 70 – 80 times more potent in various chemical constituents than the dried herb itself. Essential oils have to be used safely and always diluted prior to applying them to the skin!