There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to health and well-being. From pharmaceutical drugs, diets, and exercise to talk therapy, massage, acupuncture, and Chinese herbs, there are a million ways to help us heal. The trick is finding the one or ones that work for you - mind, body, and spirit.
This week’s aloha tip is to try aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is s a holistic healing treatment using natural plant extracts, known as essential oils. Essential oils can be extracted from various parts of a plant - the flower, herb, bark, roots, peels, and petals. The “essence” comes from the cells that give the plant its fragrance. Once extracted, it becomes an essential oil.
Aromatherapy is nothing new in the healing arts. In fact, it’s been around for at least 6,000 years - just not in the form we know it today. Ancient civilizations used aromatic plants for religious purposes, perfume, and medicine. Coined "aromatherapy" by French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1935, he claimed he treated his own burn injury with lavender essential oil.
According to the experts, essential oils cause a response in your skin, muscles, or joints when put on your skin. However, experts say aromatherapy is effective as a healing modality because it also activates your nose’s smell receptors, creating a fast track to boosting your well-being.
Laura Cardona, a certified aromatherapist and licensed massage therapist based in Miami, Florida, states that inhalation is a practical way to use essential oils because of how quickly its molecules travel to the brain, bypassing the thalamus, to go directly to the limbic system. This act, she explains, evokes memory and learning.
"Our sense of smell is key to help us remain alert, warn us of any dangers, help us learn, and help soothe or stimulate our central nervous system,” Cardona said. “Inhalation creates a fast route to help decrease levels of stress, promote positivity, ground oneself, or, depending on the oil, help stimulate and clear brain fog.”
Cardona says that the two main ways to use essential oils are either aromatically (through a diffuser or an inhaler) or topically. When used topically, she emphasizes they should always be diluted with a carrier oil (such as jojoba oil) to help protect the skin.
“Citruses are very uplifting and help move stagnant energy,” Cardona said. “I love to pair citruses with a touch of peppermint for a cooling and invigorating blend. This combo also helps neutralize and rid the air of any unpleasant scents.”
Health benefits of using aromatherapy include:
When used consistently and safely, the benefits of aromatherapy can be rewarding. Consult with a professional aromatherapist in your area for a customized plan to enhance your wellness journey today.