What is aromatherapy?

When you think of aromatherapy, you might think of it as a new age fad. In fact, aromatherapy is rapidly gaining popularity. With health and wellbeing being in the spotlight, using essential oils for therapeutic use has skyrocketed in the last decade. 

Loads of celebrities use aromatherapy too. Gwyneth Paltrow indulges in a bath of essential oils to relax and unwind. While Kelly Clarkson uses them to suppress food cravings.

Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment that uses essential oils. These oils are extracted from natural sources including plants, herbs, flowers and trees. Then they are distilled and concentrated. 

Essential oils are becoming much more widespread as an alternative to traditional prescribed medicine. They have been used for aromatherapy for thousands of years. There are literally hundreds of different essential oils to choose from. And they all have unique benefits for our body, mind and spirit.

The most well known ones include: 

  • Lavender
  • Tea tree
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Eucalyptus
  • Chamomile
  • Bergamot

Oils can also be blended together to boost their healing benefits. 

How does aromatherapy work?

Our sense of smell - or olfaction, in science terms - is the first of our five senses to develop. It is much more sensitive than our sense of taste or touch. The nerve endings in our nose are incredibly sensitive. They can detect the difference between at least one trillion smells!

How does smell work? 

Aromas are actually made up of tiny odour molecules. These are detected by the sensitive receptors in the nose. They send signals to the limbic system in the brain through special nerves. The limbic system interprets the smell. It is also the part of the brain that processes emotions and memories. 

Scents and memories

Because of the association between the limbic system and emotions, the sense of smell is closely related to our memories. That’s why the smell of crayons or Play Doh can instantly transport you back to childhood. Smelling something pleasant can instantly transport you to a time when you felt happy. 

Wake up and smell the coffee

One of the nicest scents is the aroma of coffee. After a poor night’s sleep or when you need a pick-me-up, nothing can beat the smell of freshly brewed coffee. It wakes us up and energises us ready for the next task. 

Researchers have now discovered that even just the smell of coffee can enhance our working memory and stimulate alertness. So you don’t even need to drink the coffee to feel the benefits. It’s easy to understand how the scents of essential oils can improve your health and support your wellbeing.

Where to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy. Keep reading for some ideas to help you incorporate essential oils in your day.

With a massage

The most common use of essential oils is with a massage. The essential oils are mixed with a carrier oil before being applied to the skin to relax your muscles and help you wind down. And you don’t need to book into a spa to experience this luxury. Mix a few drops of essential oil with a tablespoon of carrier oil and gently smooth it into your skin. This is really effective after a shower or bath as the oils are absorbed more easily through your pores. Create your own home spa day. Then lie back and relax as you let the oils work their magic.

In the bath

A popular use of aromatherapy is adding a few drops of essential oils to the bath. Lavender is a popular choice for adding to bath water. It has wonderful relaxing qualities and can soothe you into a peaceful state of mind helping you unwind after a long day.

Don’t worry if you prefer a shower instead. You can still benefit from some aromatherapy. Try dropping some essential oil onto a washcloth or some cotton balls and placing it on the shower floor. Don’t let the water hit it directly, but as it soaks up the hot water, the aromas will be released and absorbed by your skin. 

If you fancy benefiting from aromatherapy while kicking back in front of Netflix, try a foot soak. Fill a foot spa or a tub with warm water, add a few drops of essential oil and reap the benefits. The oils are absorbed into the bloodstream quickest through the hands and feet. 

While cleaning

Yes, you can boost your wellbeing whilst doing housework! 

Lemon is often used as an ingredient in household cleaning products. This is due to the amazing benefits of lemon oil. It is effective as a deodoriser, stain remover and for fighting bacteria. Another oil useful for cleaning is garlic. Its antimicrobial properties mean it’s not just for keeping vampires at bay. 

Cosmetics and skincare

Lots of beauty and skincare products incorporate essential oils. They are used for their fragrance as well as their natural healing properties. 

Skincare products such as face creams and body lotions allow oils to be applied directly on the skin.

Some of the benefits of using essential oils on skin are:

  • Help regenerate skin cells
  • Tone and tighten skin
  • Improve skin elasticity
  • Stimulate blood circulation
  • Combat the signs of aging
  • Soothe inflammation
  • Hydrate and moisturise

Around the home

There are plenty of options when it comes to using aromatherapy around the home. It really is easy to transform your space by adding some scents. 

You could try an aromatherapy diffuser. These gently radiate the aromas around your room. Another alternative is an aromatherapy burner. These use a heat source to turn the oils into a vapour that you can inhale to feel the benefits. A scented candle is another option. These provide a gentle light that enhances the relaxing benefits of the essential oils.

On the move

A convenient way to tap into the benefits of aromatherapy is to use a personal diffuser. Our Ripple+ aromatherapy diffusers are handy to carry around wherever you go. Simply pop one in your bag before leaving the house and you can draw on the beneficial essential oils every time you inhale one of our blends. After experiencing the effects, you won’t want to leave home without it!

What are the benefits of aromatherapy?

Although scientific research on aromatherapy is limited, studies have identified the beneficial effects of using essential oils. As aromatherapy is a holistic therapy. That means it heals the whole person. These healing benefits can be physical, emotional and spiritual. Let’s take a look at some of the amazing benefits we can receive. 

Physical benefits

Pain relief can be achieved by using the analgesic properties of rosemary, lavender and chamomile. They are also used as a complementary therapy for patients going through cancer treatment. 

Other medical conditions can be alleviated with aromatherapy. 

Some conditions include:

  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea

Using essential oils as a complementary therapy can reduce the reliance on pharmaceutical drugs.

Mental benefits

Your sense of smell is the strongest sense and impacts activity in the brain. So essential oils can effectively boost cognitive abilities.

They can help improve mental clarity and focus. Keep a bottle of essential oil - or a Ripple+ - at your desk so you can inhale through the day when you need an extra boost. 

Rosemary essential oil is useful for improving memory as well as mental focus. So you’ll have no excuse not to remember those important appointments or dates. 

Lemon oil is effective for increasing attention span and the ability to retain information. Whereas peppermint can keep you alert and ready for anything.

Emotional benefits

Of all the benefits of aromatherapy, reducing stress and anxiety is the most widely quoted. The natural aromas can positively enhance your mood. Essential oils can balance your emotions and help you feel more grounded and connected.

Scents can help create an atmosphere in a room. You might want an energising vibe or a relaxing one. Whatever the mood, there’s an essential oil that can help create it. 

Some soothing and calming oils include sandalwood, ylang ylang and rose. When you try and quit smoking, they also help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with the smoking cessation journey. The right blend of essential oils can help soothe and relax you, reducing the cravings for cigarettes.

Spiritual benefits

The aroma of essential oils can help us feel spiritually lifted. When we experience the effects of aromatherapy, we can feel balanced and connected. This means that they are great for our wellbeing and to help us face whatever challenges life throws our way. 

To get the benefits, use some essential oils whilst relaxing, doing yoga or meditating. They are great for promoting mindfulness and helping you to connect with yourself.

Life is a state of constant change and flux. You never know what’s going to happen next. Having an aromatherapy toolkit to draw on can help you cope with these situations and bounce back to your full potential.