Aromatherapy as a practice dates back to the ancient Egyptians and has experienced a resurgence in the west in recent years. The science behind aromatherapy is known as psychoneuroimmunology which studies the interactions between the psychological, neurological and immune systems. Research has shown that there is a very strong correlation between positive and negative experiences and our immune system as well as our psyche. This premise is recognized by the fields of science and medicine giving credence to the old adage mind over body.
Aromatherapy utilizes the strongest of our senses which is the sense of smell. The sense of smell is unique because it has a direct path to our brain and more importantly it has a direct path to our limbic system. Through this direct portal aromas are able to directly affect conscious thought and reactions as the limbic system is responsible for our memories (turning short term to long term), learned responses, emotions and feelings.
The use of aromatherapy oils to promote relaxation has become very popular by the mainstream population. For this purpose essential oils can be applied in several different ways including baths, diffusers, direct inhalation, or through a massage to name just a few. How you choose to use your aromatherapy oils is a personal preference as long as enjoy the process.
The number of different essential oils on the market is vast leaving the decision of which one to try somewhat daunting. It should be noted that each essential oil has many specific therapeutic applications and many of these are similar with other oils, which allows you to choose an oil that will give you the desired benefits as well as an aroma you enjoy. For instance their are several oils that are known for there powers to relax, so the choice becomes a personal one.
1. Ylang ylang is known for its strong, sweet exotic scent and is extracted by steam or water distillation for the fresh flowers of the tropical tree Canago odorata better known as the Ylang ylang tree.
2. Neroli has a very feminine sweet floral smell and is extracted by enfleurage or steam distillation from the orange blossom petals of the orange tree Citrus auratium. Neroli essential oil is generally sold in a cut form (with another oil) and is one of the more expensive oils on the market.
3. Jasmine is another oil that can be described as having an exotic, sweet floral scent. Jasmine essential oil is extracted from the flowers of the plant Jasminum officinale.
4. Lavender is one of the most versatile essential oils as its benefits and applications are vast. This lightly floral scented oil is extracted by steam distillation from the plant Lavandula augustifolia.
5. Sandalwood is has a sensual musky or woody scent and has been used for thousands of years. This essential oil is extracted by steam or water distillation from the heartwood (nonliving central wood)
and roots of the tree Santalum album.
This is by no means a complete list of the aromatherapy oils that can be utilized for the purpose of relaxation, it is instead a sample of the vast number to choose from. When choosing an aromatherapy oil try to find one that you can use for several desired benefits and more importantly find one that you find pleasing to smell. If you do not like or enjoy the scent of your oil chances are it will not give you the results you are looking for.