Essential oils and aromatherapy
If we think well, since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, oils were widely used not only for personal care and to maintain their good looks, but also during funeral practices. Over time, information related to the use of oils in different civilizations makes us understand that the positive properties of plants were already widely known even before the study of anatomy and human physiology. Clearly with the advent of new research techniques, the combination of beneficial properties of plants and in-depth knowledge of the needs and functioning of our organism, has favored the massive use of aromatherapy in the most varied circumstances.
The term was coined by a French chemist named René Maurice Gattefosse who exploited the properties of lavender to treat some wounds of the soldiers who fought during the First World War. La Lavanda, which is part of the Labiatae family, has in fact excellent cicatrising capacity and can be used on wounds, sores, cuts, as well as skin rashes due, for example, to contact with jellyfish or similar organisms. But, in addition to this, it has calming powers even against abdominal spasms, colic, menstrual pains. Do not forget the diuretic and disinfectant properties of the genito-urinary system. The first treatise on aromatherapy entitled "Aromathérapie" was written in 1964 by a French doctor named Jean Valnet.
But what is Aromatherapy?
It is a practice that involves the use of essential oils for the treatment of pathological conditions or situations of physical and mental stress. In reality, from a scientific point of view, it has not yet been approved as a true treatment method, but some use it as if it were. Despite this, various pharmaceutical companies are carrying out in-depth studies on the beneficial properties of the essential oils of certain plants to be able to insert them in their products.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are often distillates of various portions of a plant. The most commonly used are flowers, roots, bark and wood, as well as seeds. Each of these parts has a different essential oil, with as many properties that can be used for different purposes.
What are the uses that are made of this practice
Essential oils are used in different and specific ways depending on the problem that must be addressed. In this regard we can distinguish 5 types of administration:
- Olfactory -> through the perception of smells and fragrances;
- Oral -> through the ingestion of essential oils;
- Inhalation -> through the inhalation of essential oils also in the form of aerosols;
- Cutaneous -> through practices such as masks, muds, massages and analogues;
- Permucotica -> with the intent to reach the mucous membranes like the nasal or pharyngeal one.
What are the therapeutic uses instead?
Based on what is said by those who support aromatherapy as a substitute or adjuvant to modern medicine, essential oils possess therapeutic properties with the following effects:
- Antibiotics and antivirals such as essential oil of benzoin, essential oil of citronella, essential oil of eucalyptus and lemon.
- Antispasmdics such as the essential oil of bitter orange, basil, cypress, rosemary and salvia officinalis.
- Balsamic-expectorant like the essential oil of Scots pine, myrrh, sandalwood, white thyme.
- Carminative as the essential oil of patchouly, of red thyme.
- On the central and peripheral nervous system as the essential oil of sweet orange, bergamot, chamomile, jasmine.
For which disorders can they be used?
There is an essential oil or even more than one for every known ailment. Obviously it cannot be ensured that the disorder vanishes completely, also because it depends on what has been caused, but the use of essential oils can be useful in alleviating the symptoms.
The disorders for which essential oils can be used as a remedy are:
- Spasms of gastrointestinal smooth muscle;
- Rheumatic and arthrosic disorders;
- Infections of the gastrointestinal tract;
- skin infections;
- Infections of the upper respiratory tract;
- Abdominal swelling;
- Disorders related to secretions;
- Disorders related to mood.
Aromatherapy essential oils: Which are the most used essential oils and which functions they perform
Essential oils are easily found on the market, in pharmacies, parapharmacies, or even in companies specializing in the production of natural products.
There are endless varieties of substances used for the purpose of soothing ills, but some are more widespread than others and among these we find:
° LEMON ESSENTIAL OIL: to obtain it mainly the skins are used. Inside it contains substances such as limonene, flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, beta-pinene and citral. It can be used externally as an astringent for impure skin, to promote circulation or to reduce the pain associated with arthrosis, while the aroma therapy can be performed with the aim of cleaning up the air inside a room.
° ORANGE ESSENTIAL OIL: there are two types, bitter and sweet, with different properties. For both the skins are used and contain myrcene, monoterpenes, decanal and others. The first is used to soothe tiredness, insomnia, but also to treat dermatitis as well as for digestive disorders. The second, instead, is widely used to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, stress, palpitations. This is also used in cooking as a flavoring.
° CALENDULA ESSENTIAL OIL: for its production we use flowers, which contain carotenes and beta carotenes, alcohol and salicylic acid. Its use is predominantly external. It refers to the use of essential oil of calendula for the production of creams to fight inflammation, purulent wounds, skin irritations caused by the sun or cold, staphylococcal inflammation. Useful to prevent the formation of wrinkles because it has a moisturizing and soothing effect on the skin.
° ESSENTIAL OIL OF EUCALYPTUS: for the production the leaves are used that contain transpinocarveolo, alpha-pinene, fellandrene and others. It can be used in cases of cough, flu, bronchitis, inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, nasal congestion, but also diabetes and rheumatism. It is not recommended for children to use it since it can cause toxicity. It is also used in vacuum cleaners with a basket containing water to cool the air in the rooms.
° ESSENTIAL OIL of TEA TREE: Melaleuca alternifolia is used for precision and this leaves the leaves from which a light green oil is extracted. Contains cymene, pinene, terpinene and others. It is used thanks to its antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, healing and immune-stimulating properties, for the treatment of mycoses, vaginitis, asthma, herpes, dermatitis but also for hair care.
° THYME ESSENTIAL OIL: there are also in this case two variants, the white thyme (Thymus Serpillus) and the red thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Both have flowered ends and contain flavonoids, resins, tannins, thymol, linalool and others. They perform antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, balsamic activity ... and there are those who also say aphrodisiac.
As has been noted, essential oils play an important role in the treatment of numerous health problems, but they are often also used simply for beauty treatments. Another use that can be made is related to the scent of the rooms both in homes and in the workplace, with the intent above all to find tranquility and relaxation.
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