Aromatherapy is the use of essential plant oils to improve well being. The oils are often placed in diffusers and allowed to permeate the air. It’s a practice that’s been used for centuries to address psychological and other issues. Ancient Egyptians employed the use of essential oils and other plant substances for massages, bathing, and healing. One of the major uses of aromatherapy in the US is for stress management.
How Aromatherapy Works
Some of the methods of aromatherapy include aerial diffusion (typically with an oil burner), topical application, and inhalation. It’s even occasionally administered vaginally, rectally, and orally for things like infection and congestion. Many practitioners use only natural essential oils since synthetics don’t provide the same benefit as the natural compounds. Synthetic fragrance oils may also contain chemical additives that can irritate the skin if applied topically.
Aromatherapy and Massage
Massage is another stress-relieving technique that commonly employs essential oils, incorporating touch and the physical manipulation of joints and muscles to relieve tension and stress. When you go for a massage, ask your masseuse if they can use essential oils geared toward soothing, relaxing, and de-stressing. You may be able to bring your own oil to the session.
Aromatherapy for Stress Relief
Aromatherapy is very popular today for stress relief.  It offers a natural, organic alternative to pharmaceutical substances and works to enhance lifestyle modifications that further reduce stress. These natural lifestyle modifications are of course exercise, diet, meditation, and proper sunlight exposure. One primary application method for essential oils is indirect and direct inhalation. Through inhaling the oils (from a safe distance, of course), the brain reacts by slowing down. This elicits a deep level of relaxation.
Stress can hinder digestion, immune function, and increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease.    While you may not be able to always eliminate a negative situation, aromatherapy is one effective way to combat the emotional upheaval that accompanies stressful events. Simply by reducing your negative emotions that surround a certain situation, you begin to change the way you think and act, thereby minimizing the situation.
The Dangers of Unmanaged Stress
- Stress can affect your blood sugar levels, leading to hunger and, eventually, insulin insensitivity. 
- Many people who do not properly manage their stress experience weight gain.
- Premature aging is another possible danger of not properly managing your stress levels.
- General pain throughout the body can be a side effect of unmanaged stress.
The Best Essential Oils to Try First
Some of the most popular essential oils with stress-relieving properties include geranium, peppermint, lavender, jasmine, chamomile, and lemongrass. Add aromatherapy to your arsenal as you fight against stress. The benefits can be quite effective, and the ease of use makes it a great choice.
How to Use Essential Oils
Be sure to read your labels to make certain that your oil contains organic, all-natural essential oils. Because oils are concentrated, they can irritate the skin without a natural and benign carrier oil. Never apply essential oils to the skin without properly diluting it in a carrier oil like jojoba, olive, and coconut oil. You can apply the oils to clothes, handkerchiefs, pillows, and just about anything. One method of using aromatherapy is simply applying oils to your hands and breathing in the oil deeply.
How do you use essential oils? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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