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Aromatherapy is the practice of using oils for physical and psychological healing and well-being. Essential oils, which carry the essence of the plant, are used for inhalation and, with carrier oils, on the skin. Each essential oil has a different quality, and by familiarizing ourselves with their healing properties, we can use them to improve our psychological and physical health. Aromatherapy can help us on our quest for personal growth and self-development, and assist in relieving anxiety and depression.
You can use the oil:
- In an oil burner
Put a tealight candle in the bottom section of the burner. Pour water in the bowl section until nearly full. Add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice.
- With oil diffuser sticks
Mix a carrier oil such as almond or jojoba with a fair amount of essential oil drops and place in a jar. Place long rattan sticks in the neck of the jar for a long-lasting frangrance that will fill the room.
- In an electric diffuser
Simply add oil and water and flick a switch.
- Mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut, almond, olive or jojoba oil and used on the skin
Aromatherapy is often used with massage to enhance relaxation, but can also be used for an invigorating effect.
- Mixed with water in a spray bottle to make a room spray
- In the bath
A few drops of essential oil added to the water in the tub can create a relaxing atmosphere and relieve muscle tension.
The best essential oils for relieving depression are...
Grapefruit: With a sweet, fresh, tart scent, grapefruit essential oil improves attention and helps to clear the mind. It is a popular anti-depressant oil because of its refreshing qualities. High in antioxidants, it is well known for its healing and invigorating qualities. However, it can have adverse affects when used in conjunction with medication. If on medication, please check with your doctor before use.
Jasmine: One of the most popular essential oils, jasmine regulates brain activity that contributes to anxiety and depression. Known for its uplifting properties, it has a warm, floral smell as it is extracted from the jasmine flower.
Ylang-Ylang: Ylang-Ylang oil is distilled from the flowers of the tropical Ylang-Ylang tree, originating from the Philippines. It is known for its sweet, soft scent and is widely used by aromatherapists for promoting feelings of gratefulness, happiness and contentment. In Indonesia the flower is considered particularly romantic and its petals are scattered on a couple's marriage bed.
Clary Sage: Clary Sage oil has been found to reduce stress in a number of different studies. With a fresh, herby scent, it is said to be effective in relieving some symptoms of depression. However, it might not be safe to use during pregnancy or when under the influence of alcohol, so exercise caution in these circumstances.
Rose Geranium: Rose Geranium essential oil has a comforting floral scent and has been found to balance hormonal levels.
The best essential oils for relieving anxiety are...
Lavender: Distilled from lavender flowers, this essential oil is one of the most popular in relieving anxiety and promoting relaxation and calm. It has over a hundred different properties that work together to slow down the activity of the brain, helping to combat racing thoughts and stress. However in large amounts it acts as a stimulant so take care to use it in moderation.
Bergamot: With a fruity, refreshing scent, Bergamot has very strong anti-depression and anti-anxiety properties. In a study, it was found that both diazepam (a prescribed anxiety medication) and bergamot both reduced corticosterone levels, a hormone closely related to stress.
Roman Chamomile: Chamomile is well known for its relaxing properties, particularly in the form of chamomile tea, and has been used for over 2000 years for its healing powers. It has an pleasant and unusual scent and helps reduce muscle tension, anxiety and stress.
Sandalwood: Extracted from the heartwood of an evergreen tree, sandalwood was found in a study to reduce anxiety in patients with terminal illnesses. This oil smells strongly of wood with hints of sweetness, and is also known as a sleep-aid against insomnia.
Tangerine: Extremely calming due to the aldehydes and esters it contains, tangerine oil also has powerful antioxidants that help to relieve stress.
Try different combinations of the oils with a carrier oil to get different effects. Ensure that before putting any oils on your skin, you try a small area at least 48 hours beforehand to ensure that there is no adverse reaction. This is to test for any allergic reactions and to make sure there is the correct amount of essential oil in the carrier oils. Many essential oils are irritants if used directly on the skin and can damage the eyes. After using them, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water.
Although not able to heal anxiety and depression as the sole form of treatment, aromatherapy is a tool that can help to facilitate self-development by creating an atmosphere that makes personal growth more likely. Simple and easy to do, even for beginners, aromatherapy can make a real improvement to our overall wellbeing.
- Iman Mohiki