What are the benefits of aromatherapy 1

Aromatherapy:
little guide for beginners

Aromatherapy, which is considered a branch of phytotherapy, uses aromatic compounds from plants - or essential oils - for prevention and healing. Our guide will tell you more about this alternative medicine and its benefits.

Aromatherapy: definition and specifics

What is aromatherapy?

In aromatherapy, aromatic plant extracts (essential oils) are used for therapeutic purposes.

How are essential oils obtained?
Essential oils are mainly obtained by steam distillation. The water vapor passes through a container with plants and carries their scent molecules with it. The steam, enriched with essential oil, passes through a cooling coil, which cools and condenses it. The essential oil separates from the aqueous phase due to the difference in density. It is then collected in the Florentine pot.

Aromatherapy in History

The word aromatherapy comes from René-Maurice Gattefossé, who discovered the properties of lavender essential oil while treating a burn on the hand. Were in front of him Aromatherapy and Phytotherapy two comparable areas. The distillation of plants was already practiced in Egypt and Greece in the first centuries BC.

The peculiarity of aromatherapy compared to other alternative medicine

The Phytotherapy (herbal medicine) and the Aromatherapy have one thing in common: they “heal with plants”. However, in phytotherapy, other procedures (herbal teas, powders, ointments ...) are used to take advantage of the medicinal qualities of plants, while in aromatherapy only essential oils are used. Aromatherapy is therefore considered a branch of phytotherapy. Just like that homeopathy aromatherapy is also part of alternative medicine.

What is the difference between essential oils, floral waters, and hydrosols?
Hydrolates are waters that contain aromatic compounds from plants. They are obtained at the same time as essential oils during the distillation of plants with steam. The hydrosol belongs to the aqueous phase that is obtained at the end of the distillation at the exit of the still. Hydrosols are sometimes referred to as "floral waters" when the part of the plant being distilled is a flower.

The curative uses of essential oils

Usage types

Essential oils can be used internally, externally or via the respiratory tract.

  • Internal use: essential oils are very efficient, but the dosages and contraindications must be strictly observed. They must necessarily be diluted with honey, sugar, vegetable oil or bread crumbs. They don't dilute in water. In pharmacies or drug stores you can buy enteric capsules, suppositories or vaginal tablets.
  • External use: certain essential oils can be used by spreading them on the skin. They are usually combined with a vegetable oil, a wax, an ointment, a cream or a body milk.
  • Use via the respiratory tract: in aromatherapy, a diffuser for essential oils is very often used. The essential oil released into the air is absorbed through the airways and reaches the brain. There it exerts its psycho-emotional therapeutic effect. There are diffusers made of hand-blown glass, with ventilation, made of porcelain with electrical diffusion, passive diffusion (porous ceramics) and heat diffusers.

Discover our range of essential oils and diffusers on Cocooncenter.

Effects of essential oils

There are almost 80 properties among the around 40 common essential oils. Essential oils can have a direct effect on pathogens (bactericidal, antifungal, antiviral ...). They can also have specific physiological functions (e.g. estrogen-like effects) and effects on the metabolism (e.g. neurovegetative system). The effects are therefore diverse: anti-inflammatory, stimulating, antispasmodic, analgesic, choleretic, relieving itching, antiviral, detoxifying, calming, sedating, toning, aphrodisiac, antidepressant ...

Aromatherapy: What Do Scientific Studies Say?

Scientific publications are increasingly proving the effectiveness of aromatherapy, especially for certain ailments:

  • Lavender essential oil is said to have a strong effect on improving sleep and reducing stress, anxiety and depression, thanks in particular to its sedating and calming effects,
  • High blood pressure is also reduced through the use of essential oils, which reduce stress and anxiety: a mixture of real lavender, marjoram, ylang-ylang, bitter orange and neroli.
  • Diabetes type 2: essential cumin and cinnamon oils have a blood sugar lowering effect and thus enable the control of the sugar level.
  • Rose geranium essential oil also helps fight urinary tract infections. Massages with a lavender oil diluted by a vegetable oil will help reduce the effects of menopause.
  • Niaouli essential oil helps limit the side effects of radiation therapy.
  • Nosocomial infections caused by hospitals are also reduced by the antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial effects of tea tree, oregano, clove, and cinnamon essential oils.

Aromatherapy: What Precautions To Take?

Dosage, dilution, method of application

Essential oils are strong and irritating, so it is imperative to use them as recommended by manufacturers or professionals. When used externally, they must be systematically diluted (vegetable oil, cream, ointment ...). Some of them must not be released into the air and others must not be taken regularly or in high doses under any circumstances.

Risks and Side Effects

Because essential oils are very concentrated in active chemical elements, they can be dangerous. They must be used with caution, especially in children under 10 years of age and potentially debilitated adults (pregnant or breastfeeding women, the elderly, epileptics, asthmatics ...).

Some essential oils can be very irritating to the skin if not used correctly. In some cases, they can be photosensitizing: sun rays activate the substances contained in the essential oils and make the oil irritating or even toxic to the skin. So do not expose your skin to the sun after applying the essential oil.

Allergic reactions can also occur, so it is important to do a test by applying a small amount to the skin before normal use.

Essential oils that contain phenols and ketones are irritating to the respiratory tract and should therefore not be released. Ketones taken orally in high doses and over long periods of time can act as toxins.

Extensive and repeated use of certain essential oils can have hepatotoxic and neurotoxic effects.

Ketones, potentially toxic molecules
Essential oils containing ketones should be used sparingly. Some of them must never be taken orally. Among the essential oils that contain ketones, the most neurotoxic are: real sage, thuja, yarrow, atlas cedar, all kinds of mint, camphor eucalyptus, piperiton eucalyptus, eucalyptus camaldulensis, eucalyptus globulus, rosemary lavalyptus polybracticade lavender, eucalyptus polybracticade krypton, eucalyptus polybracticade lavender -Fighter.

In general, essential oils must not be used on their own. When in doubt, it is recommended to consult an aromatherapist or a specialized pharmacist.

Our selection of aromatherapy books

In aromatherapy, essential oils are used in a variety of ways, alleviating so many diseases, stress, urinary tract infections, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, etc. Essential oils have effects that can sometimes treat certain pathologies or work in synergy with conventional treatments.

The Top Three Aromatherapy Facts To Keep In Mind:

  • In aromatherapy, essential oils are used internally, externally, or through the respiratory tract for medicinal purposes.
  • Essential oils have numerous and powerful effects that can relieve many pains or pathologies.
  • They should be used with caution: the risks and side effects can be significant due to the strength of the ingredients.
About the author
A PhD from the Université de Reims (Reims University in France), Paul Musset is particularly interested in naturopathy and sports nutrition. He accompanies you in your "health and beauty magazine" and shares his health and wellness tips with you.