The principles behind using plant oils for a person’s health and well-being have been around for thousands of years. Egyptians, Romans and Greeks were using plant-derived oils for healing the body and the spirit over 6000 years ago. It was only in the 20th century that we began to call this practice aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is when the oil from these plants is used to affect the senses of smell and touch.
Our bodies are made to respond powerfully to our sense of smell. The smell of a rose garden in the summer can relax us just as the smell of smoke can warn us something is wrong. Aromatherapy works because of our body’s ability to respond to scents with feelings of fear, happiness or peace.
Certain smells evoke a peaceful or relaxation response that helps people fall asleep. Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep is called insomnia. Studies have shown that insomnia affects 54% of all adults at some point in their lives. Many of the adults suffering from insomnia look for therapies that are an alternative to sleeping pills. Aromatherapy is one such alternative therapy.
Some plants that are useful in curing insomnia are; Chamomile, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Neroli, Ylang-Ylang and Marjoram. Although it is neither the plant nor the flowers that are useful to the patient, it is the essential oils that they contain It is these oil that gives plants their unique odor. These oils are found in all plants and must be extracted to be used. Distillation, cold-pressing and maceration are just a few ways that essential oils are derived from plants. Do not confuse essential oils with scented oils or fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are often mixed with synthetic oil to achieve specific fragrances. Fragrance oils are much cheaper than essential oils and less effective for aromatherapy.
One popular way to use essential oils for insomnia is by using the oil in conjunction with the warm bathwater. Before bedtime, about 10 drops of Chamomile oil is added to bathwater. While the patient soaks in the tub the chamomile is helping their body to relax. Any of the essential oils that are used for relaxation can be used in this manner. A person suffering from insomnia can also try taking a clean handkerchief and sprinkling one of the oils on it. Then the handkerchief is put into their pillowcase. The person inhales the scent throughout the night, aiding in a deeper, more restful sleep. Lavender oil is commonly used for the pillow method because of its well-liked smell.
Essential Oils can also be used with massage therapy. Massage is another alternative therapy associated with helping insomnia. When using essential oils for massage therapy a carrier oil must be used. This unscented oil is used to reduce the potency of the essential oils. Almond oil and olive oil are two typical types of carrier oils. Use about 15 drops of the chosen essential oils for every one ounce of carrier oil. Never apply essential oils directly to your skin. Skin irritation or a skin rash could occur.
A diffuser is another way to reap the natural benefits of essential oil. Diffusers can be warmed by a small candle or electricity. The oil is put into the diffuser and when warmed releases scent throughout a room.
Scented oils can also be used to scent aromatherapy candles. Plain wax is mixed with an essential oil or a combination of oils. When the scented candle is lit the fragrance of the scented candle is released into the room.
Each person using aromatherapy will respond to smells in different ways. It is important to find which oil or combination of oils works best for each individual. With a bit of knowledge aromatherapy can be a powerful weapon in the fight against insomnia.