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Essentials for the senses

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By Wallia Khairi
Tue, 04, 21

Lighting a scented candle or positioning a diffuser to fill your home with a pleasant fragrance is a regular occurrence for many of us, but did you know scents can have a powerful effect on your emotions?

aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a pseudoscience based on the usage of aromatic materials, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds, with claims for improving psychological or physical well-being. It is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it’s called essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils medicinally to improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health. You can also massage the oils into the skin or pour them into bath water. Aromatherapy as used today originated in Europe and has been practiced there since the early 1900s. Practitioners of aromatherapy believe that fragrances in the oils stimulate nerves in the nose. Those nerves send impulses to the part of the brain that controls memory and emotion.

Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy. It does not provide a cure for diseases, rashes or illnesses, but it can support conventional treatment of various conditions such as nausea, pain and body aches, anxiety, stress, depression, fatigue and insomnia. While aromatherapy isn’t the magic ‘cure-all’ that it’s sometimes made out to be, it does appear to have proven effects as a stress reliever. Aromatherapy is a nice tool for stress relief because it has few (if any) known side effects, can be used passively (you can fill the room with scent while you attend to other activities, relieving stress in the process), and can be easily combined with other stress relievers (like massage or meditation, for example), for increased stress relief. Aromatherapy products are also widely available, making aromatherapy a convenient option.

Aromatherapy works through the sense of smell and skin absorption using products such as; diffusers, aromatic spritzers, inhalers, bathing salts, body oils, facial steamers, hot and cold compresses and clay masks.

You may wish to meet with a certified aroma therapist, especially when you’re first getting started with aromatherapy or if you have specific issues you’d like to address. The aroma therapist should take a thorough medical history, and a lifestyle, diet, and current health history. Aromatherapy involves a comprehensive approach, so it aims to treat the whole person. Treatments will be suited to the individual’s physical and mental needs. Based on these needs, the aroma therapist may recommend a single oil or a blend.

What do essential oils do?

From energising in the morning to calming at night, essential oils can help modulate your mood, which is particularly useful at the moment with the stresses and strains that lockdown life can bring. Different oils have different uses and effects.

• Basil essential oil is used to sharpen concentration and alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. It may relieve headaches and migraines. It should be avoided during pregnancy.

• Rosemary essential oil may benefit the nervous and circulatory systems.

• Rosemary essential oil may also promote hair growth, boost memory, prevent muscle spasms, and support the circulatory and nervous systems.

• Black pepper essential oil is commonly used for stimulating the circulation, muscular aches and pains, and bruises. Combined with ginger essential oil, it is used to reduce arthritis pain and improve flexibility.

• Chamomile essential oil can treat eczema.

• Clove essential oil is a topical analgesic, or painkiller, that is commonly used for toothache. It is also used as an antispasmodic antiemetic, for preventing vomiting and nausea, and as a carminative, preventing gas in the gut. It has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antifungal properties.

• Eucalyptus essential oil can help relieve the airways during a cold or flu. It is often combined with peppermint. Many people are allergic to eucalyptus, so care should be taken.

• Jasmine essential oil has been described as an aphrodisiac. While scientific evidence is lacking, research has shown that the odour of jasmine increases beta waves, which are linked to alertness. As a stimulant, it might increase penile blood flow.

• Lavender essential oil is used as an antiseptic for minor cuts and burns and to enhance relaxation and sleep. It is said to relieve headache and migraine symptoms.

• Lemon essential oil is said to improve mood and to help relieve the symptoms of stress and depression.

• Sandalwood essential oil is believed by some to have aphrodisiac qualities.

• Tea tree essential oil is said to have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and disinfectant qualities. It is commonly used in shampoos and skin care products, to treat acne, burns, and bites. It features in mouth rinses but it should never be swallowed, as it is toxic.

• Thyme essential oil is said to help reduce fatigue, nervousness, and stress.

Alternative medicine enthusiasts have subscribed to the power of essential oils for years. But with their increasing availability (and claimed health benefits), they’re going mainstream. Essential oils are available online, in stores, and in some regular supermarkets. It’s important to buy from a reputable producer since the oils aren’t regulated. This ensures you’re buying a quality product that is 100 per cent natural. It shouldn’t contain any additives or synthetic ingredients. Few Pakistani brands offer an array of oils such as Co-natural, Botanical Wonders, 100Percent by Sumbul Yusuf and Aroma Farmacy among many.

Our world has changed dramatically in a very short space of time so creating comfort and calm by lighting a different candle in the evening to signify the end of the working day: in those non-working areas, such as the living room, is super important.