Powerful aromatic substances have been around for thousands of years. In ancient times, people were using them for their medicinal value as well as for religious reasons. In Ancient Egypt, where Medical Practice was way ahead of its time, people recognized the connection of healing oils to overall wellbeing. They associated beautiful fragrances with their gods and worshipped Nefertum, the god of perfume and healing who could be considered the world’s first aroma therapist if only he existed. Legend says that he brought a bouquet of beautiful lotuses to the aging deity of the sun, Re, which eased his suffering.
Egyptian pharaohs, the kings and queens that ruled Ancient Egypt who were considered the embodiment of the gods used aromatic scents to advance their political cause. Hatshepsut, a female ruler who was pharaoh for twenty years used fragrance to demonstrate her power. Cleopatra, the popular Ptolemaic ruler who seduced two of the most powerful men in her time to secure her throne and keep Egypt independent as the Roman Empire expanded, was believed to have used powerful scents to captivate Mark Anthony when she entered the City of Tarsus by sailing up the Cydnus River while dressed as Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and pleasure.
The use of essential oils was very common in ancient Egyptian society that even commoners were not excluded from using them. Body-care and was cleanliness was very important that it transcended economic status. Evidences show that body oil was used daily by almost all citizens as moisturizer and skin protector. Good smells were associated with divine presence and that the priests used aromatic oils to be one with the gods.
As Science progresses, we begin to understand the root of the ancient Egyptians’ love affair with essential oils and why their use has remained as important as it was during the times when pharaohs roamed the Earth
The Science and Benefits of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy, which is also known as essential oil therapy, is the use of essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. Essential oils can be found in the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, or fruits of plants that produce them. Contrary to popular belief, not all essential oils smell nice and the use of “aromatherapy”, that is the smelling or inhaling essential oils to enhance overall health and initiate the healing process is just one of the ways to use them.
Inhaling essential oils is effective because of how fast it positively affects the body. When humans inhale through their nose, airborne molecules interact with the olfactory system (this includes physical organs or cells relating to the sense of smell), the respiratory system, and the brain, particularly the limbic system which is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance. Thus, aromatherapy doesn’t only have physical benefits; it has positive psychological impact as well. Below are some of the wonderful benefits one may get from using aromatherapy:
- It may help reduce pain, body aches, and headaches
Essential oils contain plant chemicals which positively affect the limbic system or the network of nerves in the brain that also controls emotions and instincts. These chemicals can alter the perception of pain and improve the mood.
- It may relieve menstrual and menopausal discomforts
A lot of women have been dealing with a number of discomforts that are associated with menstruation and menopause. Many of them resort to drugs or pain killers that may do more harm than good. Aromatherapy is a natural and safer way to deal with all of these since it can help relieve menstrual cramps and menstrual symptoms. The lavender essential oil, for example, can reduce hot flashes which is the most common complaint of menopausal women.
- It may help reduce nausea
Aromatherapy has been found to help reduce nausea and improve digestive health. In fact, for this reason, Basil essential oils can help provide comfort to cancer patients after they undergo a chemotherapy session or radiation. Other essential oils to try include Lemongrass, which can ease cramps that are associated with an upset stomach; Rosemary, which improves food absorption; and peppermint, ginger, fennel, coriander, and dill, which can relieve intestinal gas.
- It may help people who suffer from anxiety, stress, and depression
Aromatherapy can help improve mental health because of its ability to lower the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), reduce the perception of stress, relieve anxiety, and enhance the mood. There are also indications that it may also help those who suffer from depression as some animal studies suggest that certain essential oils may relieve psychological and physical symptoms linked to this medical illness that is currently affecting around one million adult Australians today.
There are different ways of using essential oils. These include massaging them on your skin; adding them to your shampoo, conditioner, and body wash; and inhaling them. Inhaling essential oils is probably one of the most convenient and relaxing ways to enjoy them, especially if you have a good functional oil diffuser.
An oil diffuser, as its name implies, disperses essential oil but it does more than that. It helps promote overall wellness, keeps the surroundings cool, and creates a healthy clean environment that is less susceptible to microbes. Thus, investing in one is a wise gift that you can give to yourself, your loved ones, and your family.
Below are the four different kinds of oil diffusers. Each of them has unique functions.
- Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffusers
These machines use electricity to disperse oil. They are easy to manage and clean and that’s what makes them popular.
- Heat Essential Oil Diffusers
As its name suggest, these machines heat the oil until in evaporates into thin air. It is popular because it is simple and economical.
- Evaporative Oil Diffusers
This type of diffuser uses the evaporation process in order to disperse oil. A fan is used to generate wind, which results to oil being evaporated into the air.
- Nebulizing Essential Oil Diffusers
This type of diffuser is a favorite of many because it allows you to enjoy the full benefits of aromatherapy.