In many cultures, there is an ancient tradition of using burning woods or incense to enrich the living space and to cure human body naturally. The Ancient Egyptians utilized aromatics for cosmetic and medicinal purposes 5,000 years ago. The Greeks have been using olive oil for centuries. Arab physicians distilled essential oils long ago, and thanks to them, these aromatic oils arrived in Europe.
French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse started to research essential oils and their healing properties at the beginning of the 20th century. After he healed his burned hand using lavender oil, he began to work with oils and made up the word ‘Aromatherapy’ in 1928. He also published the first book in 1937 using that word as a title.
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There is no such thing as ‘Ayurvedic aromatherapy’. It seems that people on the West every using of essential oils consider as aromatherapy. ‘Ayurvedic Aromatherapy’ includes all the ways of essential oils classification and their use according to an Ayurvedic concept. That concept includes vital life force – Prana; metabolism regulation – Agni, five universal elements – Pancha Mahabhutas; regenerative fluids – Soma; strengthening the immune response of the body – Ojas, and so on.
Basically, aromatherapy is a popular technique of the therapeutic use of essential oils which are pleasant, widely available, and entirely easy to apply. You enjoy different aromas from soaps, massage oils or candles every single day, and practice aromatherapy without realizing that you actually do it.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are a natural combination of the flowers, roots, leaves, and barks of plants. Their highly concentrated essences stimulate the olfactory nerve and the limbic part of the brain. It is the natural and straightforward way to harmonize your emotions, moods, and thoughts.
The methods of oil extraction are expensive and time-consuming. Can you imagine that you need up to four million jasmine flowers or 2,000 kg of rose petals to produce only one kilogram of essential oil? On the other hand, they are highly effective and sometimes just a drop of any of them is enough to reach the desired effect.
Following the Ayurveda, using the aroma is crucial for preventing various diseases and healing your body and soul. You can use essential oils alone or make different combinations using various plants to balance their effects. All essential oils have antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. An impressive fact is that bacteria can’t become resistant to essential oils, which is not the case with antibiotics, for example.
There are many ways to insert fragrant oils into the body including direct absorption through the sinuses, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and lung membranes. After the application, the oil will circulate through your body by blood, affect all your organs, and cause changes in your metabolism. After they exhibit the beneficial effect on every part of your body, you will eliminate them through the skin, lungs, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and kidneys.
The primary principle and the essence of Ayurveda are not fighting the disease but preventive actions and strengthening of your body. That means that essential oils will help you create the physiological balance through their smell and sense, which is base of your health. Yes, it’s that simple.
Benefits of Essential Oils
The list of positive effects of essential oils on our body is too long. Certainly, I won’t be able to list all of their benefits. I will try to show you the vital influence of the plants and oils obtained by evaporation from various herbs on your health and the health of your children. All of them:
- Reduce the emotional trauma.
- Release Serotonin (the hormone of happiness), Oxytocin (the hormone of love), and Melatonin (the hormone of sleeping). These hormones increase your good mood and positive attitude.
- Help your emotional and physical healing.
- Have both cooling and heating effects on your body.
- Reduce hot flashes during menopause and early pregnancy.
- Reduce anxiety.
- Increase Libido.
- Calm overactive children.
- Calm the emotions and mind.
- Increase mental clarity.
- Relieve joint pain.
- Solve respiratory issues.
- Treat many types of skin conditions.
- Improve circulation.
- Reduce inflammation in the muscles.
Therapeutic Uses of Essential Oils
Ayurveda has traditionally used therapeutic oils for centuries, but essential oils were always something special. These oils were available just to the Royals in the past. Nowadays the situation is entirely different with an easily accessible variety of fragrant oils. You can comfortably connect modern aromatherapy with the traditional practice of Ayurveda and enjoy all benefits these oils can bring to you.
The number of the most aromatic plants commonly used in Ayurveda is significant. Here I will give you a short but useful list of fragrant plants that are most widely used for making essential oils and which can provide the best effects on your body.
- Flowers – jasmine, roses, lotuses, marigolds.
- Herbaceous species – holy basil, sages, coriander, mints, and fennel.
- Resins – frankincense, guggul, and some species of myrrh.
- Spices – black pepper, ginger, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and long pepper.
- Aromatic roots – valerian, vetiver, and calamus.
- Tree species – cedar, sandalwood, eucalyptus, pine, and agarwood.
- Aromatic grasses – lemongrass.
What Are the Primary Biological Principles of Dosha?
If you are interested in Ayurveda, you know that there are basic biologic principles of Dosha (different mind and body types) – Pitta, Vata, and Kapha which affects the forming of your physical and mental characteristics. They are made up of the five elements (fire, air, water, ether, and earth).
Pitta Dosha is made of water and fire and controls your metabolism, digestion, and energy production.
Kapha Dosha is made of water and earth and controls the structure of your body.
Vata Dosha is made of air and ether and controls the nervous system, movement in your body, and the processes of elimination.
The most crucial thing in Ayurveda is to increase the Dosha and the proper level of your mind and body balance. You should always pick out adequate essential oil based on the current state of your Dosha balance.
The List of Oils Appropriate for Different Metabolic Types
Vata is dry and cold, and you should reduce too much of it using oils which help with moisturizing and heating the body. The best oils for this body type are peanuts, sesame, and hazelnuts.
This type has a lot of benefits that come from spices and roots oils including anise, bergamot, basil, birch, coriander, clary sage, cypress, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, cedarwood, chamomile, eucalyptus, frankincense, fennel, ginger, orange, marjoram, patchouli, rosewood, rosemary, rose, sandalwood, tangerine, vetiver, vanilla, and valerian root.
Pitta is wet and hot, and you should reduce too much of it using oils which help with drying and cooling. The best oils for this body type are coconuts, olives, and sunflowers.
This type has a lot of benefits that come from cooling flower oils including chamomile, cedarwood, coriander, cumin, dill, geranium, fennel, jasmine, lemongrass, lavender, neroli, myrtle, peppermint, sandalwood, rose, wintergreen, vanilla, ylang-ylang, and yarrow.
Kapha is wet and cold, and you should reduce too much of it using oils which help with drying and heating. The best oils for this body type are sesame, almonds, and mustard seed.
This type has a lot of benefits that come from spices and resins including anise, bergamot, basil, black pepper, birch, cumin, cinnamon, cajuput, cardamom, coriander, caraway, cypress, clary sage, dill, eucalyptus, fir, fennel, frankincense, ginger, juniper, jasmine, lemongrass, lavender, lemon, marjoram, myrtle, myrrh, orange, peppermint, parsley, rosemary, rose, saffron, sandalwood, sage, tea tree, tangerine, yarrow, and wintergreen.
Proper Using of Essential Oils
You can use fragrant essential oils for massage, stress relief, infection prevention, and so on. It is not hard to learn the basic principles of applying them. I will show you the most effective ways to use various oils for the benefit of your mind and body. It’s up to you to discover the oils which are best for you and which help you most.
Ambient Diffusion – Use your favorite aromatherapy essential oil and entirely transform the character of your room. Put a few drops in the glass of water or an aromatherapy diffuser and enjoy the fragrant, mood-enhancing atmosphere in just a few minutes.
Massage – The combination of the therapeutic effect of the best essential oils and human touch is the most desirable way to experience aromatherapy. Enjoy a massage and get your muscles relaxed, improve their tone, and speed up the flow of your blood and lymph. Also, massage will help you relieve mental stress and any physical tension which are caused by modern life.
Instant inhalation – The mixture of one drop of sandalwood, rosemary, and eucalyptus oils with 7 ml of sesame oil is excellent for suppression of sinus infections and allergies. For bronchial and lung problems, inhale a mixture of a drop of angelica, basil, and inula in a bowl of boiling water.
Face therapy – Always dilute essential oils before applying them to your skin. Using a 2% oil dilution is entirely safe for application. That means that you should mix up to 30 drops of essential oil with 60 ml of lotion, natural lipid, or vegetable oil. The rule is – For more sensitive skin, you should use less amount of essential oil.
- Facial oil – Add up to five drops of essential oil in 30 ml of jojoba or almond oil and enjoy soft and clean skin.
- Facial mask – Make a mixture of healing earth with water. After forming a smooth paste, add a few drops of essential oil and let the mask work.
- Facial steam baths – Put two drops of your favorite essential oil into two liters of hot water. Breathe deeply with your face over the bowls with water and oil.
Mouthwash – With their antibacterial and antiseptic effects, essential oils are perfect for maintaining your gums healthy and making your breath fresh. Just add two drops of essential oil you like the most into a cup of water. Rinse your mouth, taking care not to swallow the oil.
Hand and foot bath – I can tell you something; when my feet feel good, I am all in an excellent mood. You may already know that feet reflex points affect every part of your body. The same thing is with your hands. Use hand bathing if you have circulation problems and/or aching joints. You need 4-5 drops of essential oil and a bowl of water (warm water for relaxing and cold water for energizing).
Shower – After you have taken a shower, put 4-5 drops of essential oil dilution in your hands and rub the oil over your damp skin of arms, torso, and legs.
Bath – Combination of essential oils and hot water will soothe your skin conditions, help with relieving your muscle strain, and it will allow you to reach your emotional balance. Add 10-15 drops of your best-loved combination of essential oils and bath salts to a full tub of water and feel the full benefits of the oils.
Saunas – Put a drop of your most-liked essential oil on the hot rocks, and enjoy your sauna in a whole new way.
Essential oils are perfect for any kind of aromatherapy, but you should treat them like any other medicine, in a carefully defined quantity and proportion. They are potent, and you shouldn’t apply pure oil directly to the skin. Test your skin for sensitivity, and consult your doctor if you have any medical condition or if you are pregnant.
Nowadays there are very strict guidelines concerning essential oils which are regulated by law. Try to choose the best natural oils you can get because any fragrant oil can have detrimental effects if you use them inadequately. Anyway, if you adhere to traditional recipes and buy oil only from reliable suppliers, you can be sure that you will improve your health as well as your mental and physical condition in an entirely natural and pleasant way.