Is aromatherapy really an effective healing method? Or, are we just kidding ourselves? Fit and Fab Living does some detective work to find out.
Today, aromatherapy oils are typically sold in little bottles or infused in candles. We buy them because we are told they’re supposed to relax us. I know many times I have just agreed to pour oil on my wrist without truly understanding how it works. Most people don’t realize aromatherapy actually dates back thousands of years. Ancient tribes discovered that the plants they were used to eating actually held some healing properties. The burning of fragrant woods, leaves, needles, and tree gums was essentially a happy accident, and became the basis for modern day aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is a form of holistic healing. But what does that really mean, and more importantly, do we buy it? Often people will shy away from more abstract healing methods and opt for something more traditional and more importantly measurable. For example, how can swallowing a pill have the same effect on your body as rubbing oil on your temple?
The “oil” in question however is not your average oil. Aromatherapy oils are extracted from certain plants, and can actually help balance your physical and mental state. The fragrance molecules in the oils trigger proactive actions in the body, so the healing happens when you inhale the fragrance.
“People don’t realize out sense of smell is one of the most primitive that effects the brain immediately,” says Cary Caster, Clinical Aromatherapist and Founder of 21 Drops.
Cary has spent over 20 years travelling the world and studying these essential oils. Her collection of natural therapeutic oil blends are designed to target specific ailments or trigger certain actions in the body. Whether you’re trying to cure headaches or hangovers, Cary has an oil blend for you.
Most people are only exposed to aromatherapy when they visit a spa to get a massage, so it isn’t common to opt for an essential oil over Tylenol. But according to Cary, pharmaceuticals are not addressing the deeper rooted ailment.
“For a headache you want something that will take that pain away but will also help bring fresh blood flow to the brain. Modern medicine tends to just mask the symptoms and dull the senses, but it doesn’t solve the actual problem.”
In fact, aromatherapy can help heal multiple conditions commonly associated with over the counter medications. Cary has mastered the art of blending oils for very specific ailments. Her most popular items include:
De-stress:A blend of frankincense resin oil, which has the ability to quiet the mind and the nervous system, and German chamomile, which has properties that eliminate spasms commonly associated with stress.
Hangover: A juniper fruit oil, geranium leaf oil, and lavender flower oil blend that stimulates the lymphatic system to help flush toxins from the body, relieve nausea, and ease water retention
Immunity: Rosewood wood oil, lavender flower oil, ravintsara leaf oil, and eucalyptus leaf oil have anti-microbial properties. Working together they will stimulate the immune system and fight infection, and help put your body back in balance
Immunity is one of the most important blends to note according to Cary. “Your body is full of microbes – some good some bad. Antibiotics kill the good and the bad.”
Alternatively, essential oils have the ability to be selective and know which microbes are the positive bacteria and negative bacteria.
“I have a woman who swears by it because she doesn’t want to use antibiotics. So she uses [immunity] whenever she has a tickle, and the cold never manifests,” says Cary.
Like most trends however, there is a quality standard that consumers should be aware of. Cary does warn us that a lot of the essential oils in health food store are not of top quality. For instance, lavender oil is very popular, but there are actually only a few components in the oil that can be synthesized those molecules and make you smell lavender. You will find that some health food stores soaps are adulterated to have an even stronger smell. You can tell these aren’t 100% natural. Cary recommends consumers ask if they do GCMS testing to verify the blend is of a certain therapeutic grade of oils.
The best way to experiment with aromatherapy is to slowly change your habits. When you think about popping an ibuprofen, opt for “pain relief” oil instead. You won’t know until you try, but at least now you have the facts. For more information on Cary’s line of therapeutic blends visit 21drops.com.