Society Staff Writer | Reagan Main | email@example.com
With midterms approaching, we’re all looking for ways to alleviate our stress. Finding time for self-care is difficult when you also have to balance work, studying and a social life. However, simple and natural help is available. Aromatherapy, an alternative medicinal practice that uses essential oils to promote wellbeing, could be the easy cure to stress that you’re looking for.
According to Aromatherapy.com, a French chemist first coined the term but was not the first to use the practice. In fact, it started thousands of years earlier. Dating as far back as 3,500 B.C., aromatic oils have been used for various reasons, ranging from embalming the dead to perfumery. The Chinese are credited as the first to utilize these oils in medicinal practices for treating ailments and improving moods, a method that would later spread through several empires and is still used today.
The diverse essential oils used in aromatherapy are extracted from healing plants. Different plants yield different concentrations, but the fragrances are always strong and unique. Each oil contains its own specific restorative properties. These properties not only aid in cognitive functioning, but also treat physical afflictions.
Lavender is used in relieving stress and can alleviate pain caused by minor burns, bergamot reduces depression and can mitigate eczema or psoriasis, and marjoram can help with insomnia while also fighting respiratory diseases.
There is no shortage of ways to implement aromatherapy into your self-care routine. It can be as easy as an oil infused bath or inhaling oils from a cloth. People could also incorporate them into a massage and directly apply it to skin. Oil diffusers are also available, spraying the aromas into the air periodically.
“I use oils every day for anxiety,” Athens local Adam Edwards says. “There are many oils that relax the body which relax the nerves which lowers my anxiety.” He has learned how to incorporate these oils into shampoos and even toothpaste.
My personal favorite method is combining aromatherapy with baths. A eucalyptus-infused bath is just what my muscles need after a long, stressful day. I pour half a cup of the oil into a hot bath and allow the healing properties to soothe my muscles.
Another source of essential oils comes from a particularly controversial plant: cannabis. Terpenes, the oils that give each strain its unique scent, come from the plant’s resin glands where THC and other cannabinoids originate.
“Their hand of influence even reaches to neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin by altering their rate of production and destruction, their movement, and availability of receptors,” Leafly, a website dedicated to informing people about cannabis, states.
These oils, however, are not exclusive to marijuana. They are found in fruits, flowers and herbs. For example, myrcene, also found in mango, aids in muscle relaxation. Linalool and limonene, found in lavender and citrus respectively, both relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Terpenes are extracted through vaporization, but too much heat can destroy the beneficial qualities. These benefits include attentiveness, mood enhancement and aiding in various health conditions. Although this may seem intimidating, it’s a natural alternative to using synthetic mood changing chemicals.
Some terpenes are more concentrated than others and must be highly diluted to be used. Through tinctures, topicals, edibles and other methods, terpenes’ health properties can be harnessed.
Aromatherapy has many uses and many methods. Although it may seem overwhelming at first, anyone can use these natural sources of relaxation and health to better their physical and mental health, even with limited resources. Even something as simple as a candle is an aromatherapy method.
“I like vanilla and lavender candles because they help me calm down and relax,” said Heather Willard, a senior at Ohio University. “Even though I just started using candles this semester, I feel like I know so much more about this craft than I did a few months ago.” With so many different methods and all the benefits that you can get, aromatherapy is something to at least try out and you may even become an expert.