Recently, during my visit to Jaipur, I came across a locally made perfume or ittr that mimics the soil’s fragrance after the first rain. Quite a romantic claim, right? I took a whiff of this essence and was transported to my childhood. For a few moments, I was playing in my backyard, feeling relaxed by the aroma. Aren’t these scents so mystical? Ever wondered how the smell of cinnamon carries you to a family picnic or how the smell of lavender in a spa takes you to your happy place?

The sense of smell has a close relation to the psychological and emotional state of an individual. It is connected to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions and memories. When a fragrance is inhaled, it travels through the nose and into the olfactory bulb. This in turn sends signals to the limbic system, triggering emotional and psychological responses. Aromas can have a calming as well as energizing effect on the mind and body.

Aromatherapy works on this relationship between the sense of smell and one’s wellbeing. It focuses on immersing an individual in aromas produced through specific essential oils. Essential oils can promote relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety, improve focus, and lift your mood. They can be inhaled or massaged on the skin to promote emotional and psychological wellbeing. Although essential oils may have specific benefits, aromatherapy is a holistic approach that can be a part of one’s lifestyle.

Benefits of Aromatherapy

While aromatherapy is not a remedy for any major health issues, its close association with mental health makes it a good complement to regular cures to make the mind relaxed and calm. Here are some of the benefits that Aromatherapy has on the body and mind.

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety – Essential oils such as Lavender, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Ylang-Ylang, Orange, Neroli, Clary Sage, Neroli, and Frankincense can help in reducing anxiety and stress.
  2. Improves sleep – Lavender, Jasmine, Marjoram, and Roman Chamomile are some essential oils that have a relaxing effect on the body and help improve sleep.
  3. Uplifts mood and emotional well-being – Citrus-based essential oils like Lemon, Orange, and Grapefruit energize and uplift the mood. Peppermint oil is known for its energizing effect. Rose Oil and Germanium help balance emotions and improve one’s overall wellbeing.
  4. Helps in alleviating pain – Aromatherapy can help with reducing pain when essential oils are used for massage. Essential oils are typically mixed with a carrier oil or cream and applied topically to the body. Eucalyptus, Wintergreen oil, Rosemary oil, Marjoram, Turmeric, and Lemongrass oil are known to help with soreness and pain.
  5. Betters digestion – Essential oils like Peppermint, Anise, Ginger, Fennel, Coriander, and Turmeric are known to stimulate digestion and reduce bloating. These oils can relax the body and activate the parasympathetic nervous system that signals the body to regulate processes like digestion.

How to indulge in Aromatherapy?

There are multiple ways to include aromatherapy in your holistic wellness routine. From inhalation to massaging, essential oils can be used as follows for relaxing the mind and body. Here are the ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy.

1. Diffusers

Armatherapy Diffuser

These are devices that disperse the essential oils in the air. By using diffusers, the essential oil fragrances are inhaled, causing the body and mind to unwind and calm down. Diffusers are convenient to use as they can be placed in any space without hassle. Allowing you to try different blends of oils, this is a versatile way to find out which fragrance works for your setting. Safer than candles, diffusers provide a consistent scent, thus, ensuring that the therapeutic benefits are the same throughout the usage. Since diffusers impact a larger space and many people, it is always good to be careful about the allergic reaction if any. Choose the essential oils carefully, keeping in mind what will suit you the best.

2. Bath oils

Aromatherapy essential oils for bath

A warm bath after a long day of work is something that each of us has desired in our lives. Essential oils and aromatherapy make this bathing experience a therapeutic oasis by relaxing our bodies and calming our minds. A few drops of oil are added to the bath and are released into the air through the steam which helps to pacify any stress in the body. A highly personalized method, it allows you to completely immerse in the fragrance for a more intense experience. Also, the use of warm water and steam opens body pores which increase the absorption of oils, thus, nourishing and moisturizing the body.  It is important to note that the oils should be diluted properly before use and the bathtub should be cleaned properly after use to remove any residue.

PS: Read all about the floral bath experience in Bali here.

3. Topical Use and Massage

Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy essential oils can be applied over specific body parts for multiple health benefits. In this method, the essential oils are diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba and applied over the skin. Oils like peppermint and wintergreen can be massaged at pain centers such as joints to provide relief. Applying lavender and eucalyptus on the forehead is known to help with headaches. Using oils like tea tree, lavender and bergamot can help in nourishing the skin to treat skin conditions like acne. Various oils like eucalyptus when applied over the throat and nose can provide relief during cold. Before usage, check if the oil is safe to be used on the skin and make sure that the instruction for usage is followed to avoid any negative impact.

4. Use of Aromatherapy candles

Aromatherapy Candle

Aromatherapy candles are special candles that are infused with essential oils which are released into the air upon burning. Candles are often chosen as they not only provide the required fragrance but also create a relaxing ambiance. For aromatherapy, it is very important that quality candles made with natural ingredients such as soy wax or beeswax are chosen. Burn time of candles also plays an important role. Burning the candle for a very short time like a few minutes might not release enough essential oil to be effective. On the other hand, burning a candle for a very long period like hours can evaporate the oils quickly and is also not considered safe. While using a candle, ensure that the essential oil is chosen for the needed therapeutic relief and is never left unattended.

5. Over a pillowcase while sleeping

Sleep like a baby with aromatherapy

Aromatherapy oils are especially known for relaxing the body and improving sleep. A few drops of such essential oils can be sprinkled over the pillow before sleeping. These oils should be well diluted before being used. High-quality perfumes or scents made of essential oils can be used for this. These essential oils soothe the mind during sleep and signal the brain and body toward a deeper sleep cycle. So, go ahead, choose an oil and sleep like a baby!

In any way the essential oils are used, it is very important that the instructions to use the oil such as dilution, storage, and post-use care are followed. Since these oils are made of plants, using a new oil or fragrance should be preceded by ensuring there are no allergic reactions. For using the oils for direct skin contact, always apply the oils at a small patch first to ensure safety. These oils should not be ingested and are only meant for external use in diluted forms. Aromatherapy is a great tool to relax and unwind in your day-to-day life but is not a replacement for medical care for any physical or mental health.