I was skeptical when I first started my search into understanding the art and science of aromatherapy. I thought that it was just for hippy stoners who liked to wear patchouli oil and follow Phish around on tour. But after spending some time researching and trying it out for myself, I've come to the conclusion that aromatherapy is for everyone- not just hippy stoners.
What is Aromatherapy?
Simply stated, Aromatherapy is the use of plant based essential oils to alter a person's mood or sense of wellness. Application of aromatherapy can be topical (applied to the skin), aerial (scented in the air), or directly inhaled. One of the most common and widely accepted forms of aromatherapy is Vick's Vaporub which uses eucalyptus, cedarleaf, and nutmeg oil to suppress coughing and relieve symptoms of a cold.
Aromatherapy oils are often blended with carrier oils derived from nuts or seeds. Palermo Body, a skincare and wellness company based in Brooklyn, uses coconut oil as a base for their oil blends.
How Does it Work?
Unfortunately, we don't entirely know how it works. Scientific studies and clinical trials have been limited on the subject, therefore there is little proof of its effectiveness or ineffectiveness. What we do know is that when we inhale the scent of an aromatherapy blend, the limbic system (the emotional centers of our brain), are targeted, resulting in a change in mood, energy level, and sense of physical wellness.
When to use Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy can be used to calm your mood, ease discomfort, or to even spark energy and activity depending on the the blend of oils used. A simple way to add scent-based therapy to your life is to apply a calming oil blend to your temples or chest after a long day of work, or to apply an enlivening blend in the morning before a day filled with activity.
If you prefer to use the aerial approach, light calming incense before getting ready to sleep or use a grounding scent that will help you focus when you have to pull an all-nighter. The application is simple and can alter your mental state with minimal effort.