Aromatherapy is the ancient practice of using essential oils to heal the mind and body. Essential oils are the aromatic oils distilled from plants which are usually used in inhalations or massaged into the body. Scents can affect our moods, memories and even learning ability. Once inhaled, a smell travels across the olfactory nerves inside the nose and then up into Limbic System in our brain which, when stimulated, releases a whole range of â€˜feel-goodâ€™ chemicals. When used in massage, essential oils are both absorbed into the skin and inhaled.
Essential oils have been shown to help reduce inflammation, aid digestion, improve sleep, relax muscles, relieve headaches, regulate hormones, kill bacterial infections, decrease congestion, heal cuts and burns, relieve menstrual cramps, improve skin tone, aid circulation and stimulate the immune system.
Lavender, for example, Â is one of the most gentle and versatile of oils. Used to promote relaxation and ease muscular tension, it is soothing and calming. It is often used to soothe irritated skin and has a pronounced healing effect on burns and sunburn as well as being helpful in cases of acne, eczema and psoriasis. As well as being beneficial in combating high blood pressure and the calming of palpitations, it is known to give effective relief from insomnia. Lavender has pain relieving qualities too, so is useful in treating sprains and rheumatic pains. It is very helpful in dealing with respiratory problems and is an excellent insect repellent.
Lavender combines well with other oils, so here is a wonderful blend from one of our Aromatherapists to combat stress and low mood:
For a relaxing and soothing massage blend, use 20 ml of carrier oil and add 2 drops of Lavender, 3 drops of Bergamot and 4 drops of Geranium.
Or, in an oil burner, use 1 drop of lavender, 2 drops of Bergamot and 3 drops of Geranium.
You can also experiment and make your own massage oils, creams, and bath oils.Â D Atkinson herbalist has a range of carrier oils in stock to which you can add essential oils. These include Arnica oil, Sweet Almond oil and Wheatgerm oil as well as Massage oils including Detox, Joint care and Beautiful Belly.
Massage oil: 1-2 drops of oil per teaspoon or carrier oil
Bath: 3-5 drops in half a cup of full fat milk and add to a bath
Cream: 5-10 drops in 50mls cream or base lotion.
D. Atkinson has a fantastic new range of essential oils in stock at their shop on Edinburghâ€™s Bristo Place. Choose from well known favourites such as Lavender, Clary Sage and Chamomile or try something new like Black Pepper, Cinnamon or Grapefruit.
Lothian Life newsletter subscribers have a chance of winning one of 10 bottles of Lavender essential oils!