Aromatherapy is a form of alternative treatment that involves natural oils extracted from aromatic plants, known as essential oils, which are inhaled/massaged for the physical as well as psychological health of an individual. Aromatherapy not only promotes one's health, but also lifts the mood.

Also known as essential oils therapy, aromatherapy uses the aromatic natural oils produced by plants to treat various health conditions. These essential oils are extracted from the flowers, leaves, stems, roots, rind or barks of different aromatic herbs. All essential oils are found in concentrated forms and, hence, they are diluted by adding other substances like suitable carrier oils, lotion or alcohol and applied to the skin, inhaled or sprayed in the air. Essential oils can be used in the form of massage oils or added to bath water. They have beneficial properties for skin (for example calendula oil, basil oil) and hair (oregano oil, ylang ylang oil, lemongrass oil). The aromatherapy we use today has its origin in Europe, where people have been practicing this alternative mode of treatment as early as the beginning of the 20th century.

People who practice aromatherapy are of the view that the aroma of the essential oils works to invigorate the nerves inside the nose. As a result, these nerves transmit impulses to that segment of our brain which regulates our memory and emotions. The results of using essential oils may either be soothing or stimulating, subject to the type of oil that is being used.

It is believed that essential oils interact with the enzymes and hormones produced by our body, thereby changing the pulse, blood pressure and other bodily functions. According to another theory, the aroma of particular essential oils encourages our body to produce and release substances that neutralize pain.

Unlike other herbal products, the essential oils employed in aromatherapy have dissimilar compositions. This is mainly owing to the fact that the distillation employed in aromatherapy helps to improve the lighter phyto-molecules.

When we mention the term aromatherapy, we actually denote a wide range of conventional therapies using essential oils. Therefore, essential oils may comprise massage oils or any other unadulterated essential oil that is used for topical applications. Generally, essential oils are either inhaled or absorbed by the body through the skin.

Topical application of essential oils to the skin helps the blood stream to absorb them. Essential oils contain several valuable compounds that are beneficial for the health of our body and mind, hygiene conditions and even beauty. Essential oils are very potent and concentrated and, hence, you should never use them in their undiluted form. Application of concentrated essential oils to the skin may prove to be detrimental. Always ensure that you dilute essential oils by adding suitable carrier oils like any good cold pressed vegetable oil before applying them to your skin. There are many carrier oils and some of the common ones include apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil and grape seed oil.

Popular aromatherapy oils

There are infinite essential oils, and some of the oils that are used most widely for aromatherapy are mentioned below along with their therapeutic properties.

Avocado oil
This essential oil is believed to be beneficial for the digestive and urinary tracts. A combination of bergamot essential oil with eucalyptus oil is said to be highly beneficial for the skin as well as skin disorders attributed to stress and tension. In addition, this combination can also be used effectively to cure skin distressed by chicken pox.
This essential oil is said to be useful for the health of our brain. It is generally used to improve concentration and also provide relief from various symptoms related to depression. Moreover, basil essential oil is also used for alleviating headaches and migraines. Pregnant women should, however, strictly avoid using this essential oil.
Black pepper
In aromatherapy, this essential oil is generally used for promoting circulation, alleviating muscle aches and treating bruises.
Clove oil
This oil is applied topically in the form of a palliative (painkiller) and widely used to provide relief from toothaches. In addition, clove oil is also used in the form of a carminative to prevent gas formation in the stomach; as an antispasmodic and anti-emetic to prevent nausea and vomiting.
Citronella oil
Citronella is related to another herb lemongrass. Both these herbs as well as their essential oils are used in the form of an insect repellent.
Eucalyptus oil
Generally eucalyptus oil is used for providing relief to people suffering from a cold or flu. This essential oil works to clear the airways, thereby alleviating the symptoms related to these conditions. Normally, this oil is used in combination with peppermint oil.
Geranium oil
Usually geranium essential oil is used in the form of a diuretic and helps to get rid of surplus water accumulated in the body. In addition, it is used as an antiseptic and an astringent. Application of geranium oil helps to constrict the tissues in the body and is useful in stopping bleeding, and secretion of other substances.
Jasmine oil
It is believed that jasmine essential oil possesses aphrodisiac properties.
Lemon oil
In aromatherapy, this essential is generally used to improve the mood of an individual. In addition, it is said that lemon oil is also useful in alleviating the symptoms related to depression and stress.
Lavender oil
Lavender essential oil is widely used for its potent antiseptic properties and applied topically to small cuts and burns with a view to prevent them from being infected and also to promote healing. In addition, lavender oil is a good remedy for insomnia.
Sandalwood oil
According to a section of people, sandalwood oil possesses aphrodisiac properties.
Thyme oil
This oil is known to be useful in alleviating fatigue, stress and even nervousness.
Tea tree oil
It has been found that this essential oil possesses antiseptic, antimicrobial and disinfectant properties. Generally, tea tree oil is a constituent of mouth rinses.
Yarrow oil
Yarrow oil is extracted from the herb yarrow and employed for treating symptoms related to cold and flu. Moreover, it is also said to be useful in lessening joint inflammation.