Does Aroma Therapy Really Help Mentally and Physically?
The most important points in brief
- Humans have been producing essential oils from herbs for probably 5,000 years.
- Even then, the oils were most likely used to make people feel more comfortable.
- Today aroma therapy is used in a targeted manner - but many doubt its conventional medical effect.
- Science has already provided evidence that essential oils actually have positive effects on us physically and mentally.
That people prefer good smells to unpleasant smells: logical. Our nose is not as fine as that of other species, but our olfactory organ is completely sufficient to sniff out whether food is spoiled, for example. And it's amazing that certain aromas put us in a good mood or help us health - we don't even have to consciously perceive these scents. Essential oils are responsible for the positive effects.
What are essential oils?
These are volatile oils from natural products. The oils contain aromas that enter the body via monoterpenes. This happens either through breathing, i.e. through the nasal mucous membrane, or through the skin. For example, when you mix essential oils in the bath water. The blood then transports the active ingredients from the mucous membrane or skin cells to the organs.
Essential oils are extracted from the tissue of a plant; in most cases, they are obtained by distillation with steam. The oils are used, for example, in inhalation, in massages, as bath additives, as medication, as compresses or in aroma therapy.
How do essential oils work in aroma therapy?
Depending on the plant from which the essential oil is extracted, it can have a stimulating or calming effect and have a positive effect on mood. The aroma of the oil triggers a sensory stimulus which - and this has now also been scientifically proven - can have mental and physical consequences. The fragrances dissolve states of restlessness or even fear and also work well against the stress that accompanies us in everyday life and which we often no longer notice.
But essential oils can also help against physical complaints. Digestive difficulties are a good example. Some substances in aroma therapy can reduce gas and nausea. Persistent belching is also annoying and can be relieved with certain essential oils through aroma therapy. Just think of tummy oil for babies - the oils it contains are massaged onto the stomach and are drawn into the bloodstream through the skin cells. There they work gently against the stomach discomfort of the baby.
And last but not least, some essential oils have also been tried and tested in the fight against colds and their unpleasant side effects such as runny nose, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, cough or headache.
The history of aroma therapy
As mentioned at the beginning, mankind used the power of herbs and plants many thousands of years ago. Very likely not only in olfactory terms, but also therapeutically. Knowledge was collected and passed on, the use of plants was continuously refined and adapted to requirements.
The French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé ultimately introduced aroma therapy into science. He dealt intensively with the essences that can be obtained from plants and published his research on the healing effects of essential oils as a book in 1936 - with the title: «Aromatherapy».
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