By Christina Alvarez
When I went down to visit my family in Miami during spring break, I came home to find the house seeping with an unfamiliar yet soothing aroma. I wasn’t sure what I was smelling, but the air felt lighter and I instantly wanted to take a deep breath and take it all in. It turned out that my mother had decided to explore the world of aromatherapy and its healing properties. I decided to do some research and see how aromatherapy can actually help in more ways than we think.
Never heard of aromatherapy? According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, it is also referred to as essential oil therapy and can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of the body, mind and spirit. Basically, the idea behind aromatherapy is that the body can enhance its healing process through soothing scents and essences.
Aromatherapy doesn’t have to be practiced intensely with many specific tools, oils or candles. It can be practiced whichever way you like, as long as it makes you feel comfortable. That being said, there are many easy and basic ways to practice and utilize aromatherapy in your daily life. Several types of aromatherapy use include using massage or body oils, facial creams and lotions, baths, steam inhalation, diffusion and aromatic spritzers, according to the NAHA.
My mother’s favorite way to practice aromatherapy is through diffusion. She uses a small machine called a RainMate to help diffuse or circulate the air with whichever scent she chooses. There are many aromatic fragrances to choose from, including lemon, lavender juniper, mandarin rosewood and orange ginger. My mother’s scent of choice is eucalyptus, and she said that the air in the house has felt so much cleaner and crisper since she started using it.
The different ways of practicing aromatherapy generate different effects, but they all focus on improving the healing process of the body. In general, aromatherapy oil-based blends are useful for stress, headaches, insomnia, muscular and joint pain, soothing the nervous system and much more, according to the NAHA. Other types of aromatherapy can be useful for slowing aging, scar reduction, detoxification of the skin and congestion.
I know what you’re thinking. Now that you know what aromatherapy can do, how can you get started? Aromatherapy products are sold in many places, ranging from small health and nutrition stores to stores like Target. It’s really easy to get started, and the benefits will only become greater the longer you practice it.
Even though it’s hard to picture how oils and essences can actually help heal the body and mind, aromatherapy is practiced by people all over the world. If something so soothing can come from practicing something so simple, then why not explore it until you find yourself a new comfort?