Aromatherapy uses the ecological balance of nature and can help with the treatment of conditions such a stress, mental fatigue, arthiritis, rheumatism, low or high blood pressure and infertility, to name a few. It is an ancient tradition that can be dated back to 4000 B.C.E, in the time of Mesopotamia, where the use of plants were recorded on clay tablets in cuneiform. Aromatherapy has reached many cultures throughout the ages, including the Egyptians, Arabs, Greeks, Indians, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Aromatherapy has the ability to connect us with our past and the now forgotten connection to nature we once nurtured.
The oils are extracted from the natural plant products such as the flower, stem, leaves and resin from the barks of trees. The oil is extracted using a method of steam distillation. Abu All al-Husayn ibn Abd Allah ibn Sina (980 – 1037 C.E.), a natural scientist of his time, can be commended for this process and other valuable written work of more than 800 plants and their healing properties on the human body systems. Botanical sources such as geranium, thyme, rose and bergamot (there are more than 70 oils to choose from in modern aromatherapy) are used in the treatment. The oils I use are purely natural and have no added preservatives or colours. They consist of natural compounds that work with the body’s complex systems, for example, when assisting with the treatment of depression, I will use oils that stimulate and regulate the nervous system, penetrating the unconscious mind. Aromatherapy can also help to balance women. There are oils that can help with fertility, uncomfortable or irregular periods and the menopause, for older women. Aromatherapy can have a positive effect on your general well-being, you may find you have more energy, a relief in your current symptoms, an improved mood, you feel more relaxed, you are able to sleep better and a greater sense of well being.
Each aromatherapy oil is made up of it’s own unique blend of chemical constituents. The oil is absorbed into the body usually through olfactory process which is situated in the nasal passage or it can be absorbed into the blood stream through the lungs by massage or steam inhalation.
The chemicals in the essential oils attach themselves to the scent receptors in the nose, chemical messages are received into the brains limbic system via the olfactory nerve. The limbic system is situated at the top of the mid brain and includes the hippocampus, amygdala, septal area and hypothalamus. This part of the brain is used for survival, expression of emotion and the formation of memory.
The olfactory bulb is “hard wired” into the limbic system, it connects our sense of smell to memories and emotional responses. The hypothalamus is home to our subconscious mind; the unconscious mind is mental activity that is not perceived by consciousness. Our memories, feelings and thoughts have the potential to influence our behaviour, without any realisation of it. Aromatherapy can soothe the unconscious processes we may have, helping us life a more fulfilled and nurtured life.
© Melissa Ward