The power of aroma for your wellbeing with Holland and Barrett
Aromatherapy has been practiced for many centuries, with civilizations such as the Greeks and Egyptians believing in the powerful health benefits of theses fragrant herb and plant scents. Today, we’re using it to treat body and mind, and are even super-charging skincare with its benefits.
The beauty of aromatherapy is that you can experience its benefits anywhere; whether at home, work or on the go. By understanding the different properties of essential oils, and discovering what you like, you can create simple, but personal blends for inhalations, massage oils, bath oils or diffusing.
What is aromatherapy?
Ever sliced a fresh, sweet orange and felt a little spring in your step? Or walked into a spa infused with lavender and wondered why your shoulders feel instinctively relaxed? What you’re experiencing is the wonderful effects of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is a holistic therapy that harnesses the natural fragrances and physical benefits of the essential oils in aromatic plants to help enhance and balance your mind, body and, overall wellbeing.
Our fast-paced modern lives have become increasingly stressful, and the desire to live a natural and healthy lifestyle has never been more in demand. Aromatherapy is a simple and easy-to-use therapy to help improve and balance you both emotionally and physically, while helping you to be mindful and reconnect with yourself, even for a few precious moments of self-care.
Essential oils can be uplifting, grounding, clearing for mind and body, calming, can help support circulation and soothe physical discomfort and can even be used on the skin. Just be sure to follow our dilution advice as they can be harmful when used neat and should never be ingested!
As well as having their typical qualities for mind and body which tend to run consistent across their aromatic families – citrus, woody, floral for example – we also experience aroma in a very personal way. We each have our own tastes and preferences when it comes to scent, and our sense of smell helps us navigate the world around us and our associations within it.
Our sense of smell is linked very closely to memory, and often a reason why we like or dislike a scent is down to a particular memory association, either positive or negative.
How we inhale it
Aromatherapy involves inhaling concentrated essential oils or applying them to the skin through a carrier oil such as almond. When you breathe in these scent molecules, they travel to the nose where they come in contact with specialised olfactory nerve cells. These have tiny hairs which recognise a specific aroma, and produces a nerve impulse than then travel to the limbic system – the part of the brain related to emotions and instincts.
How we absorb it
Essential oil molecules are so small they can penetrate the skin and be absorbed into the bloodstream. Don’t apply the concentrated version directly to skin; instead, add drops to a warm bath or diffuser. Once in the bloodstream, some oils have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, or anti-inflammatory properties too, and can help reduce stress and boost feelings of wellbeing.
Ways to use it
Adding essential oils to a diffuser, steamer, or to your bathwater is one of the easiest ways to incorporate aromatherapy into your daily routine. Antibacterial and antifungal essential oils such as lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint and orange are a great way of keeping your respiratory system healthy.