The medicinal effect of essential oils: what does this do for your skin and brain?

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In the wonderful world of aromatherapy, scents play the leading role. Essential oils don’t just smell good, they can have medicinal effects on your body, mind and are even said to work on your soul. In this article you can read about how scents work, how you can use essential oils and you will find a list of the most important scents and their application.

The essential oil is considered to be a highly concentrated active part of the plant.

Brief history

Aromatherapy is scent therapy. For centuries, aromas (scents) have been used for rituals, as an entrance to the soul and for healing. Aromatherapy was practiced thousands of years ago in Indochina and Egypt. This treatment was also known to the Romans and Greeks. In Western Europe, fragrant, aromatic oils were common medicines in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With the rise of the chemical industry, aromatherapy has subsequently fallen into oblivion. It has been rediscovered in recent decades.

Philosophy of aromatherapy

The great thing is that humans have an elephant memory for smells; smells of the past evoke certain emotions. Scent therapy uses this memory.

Active ingredients in the essential oil have a direct physical effect. The effect through absorption through the skin, lungs or stimulation of the brain cannot be seen separately when using the oil. During massage with ylang-ylang oil, absorption of blood pressure lowering substances takes place through the skin, but the smell of the oil will influence heart rhythm and tension via the limbic system.

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The following paragraphs explain how the oils work:

On the skin

Essential oils are fat-loving and are therefore absorbed directly into the skin and transported to the bloodstream via the lymph. For example, researchers found linalool — a component of lavender oil — back in the bloodstream five minutes after massaging the oil.

In the lungs

Inhaled essential oil reaches the bronchi of the lungs and acts there on the spot, or is absorbed into the blood in the bronchi to reach other organs. For example, Artemisia essential oil kills certain types of bacteria (staphylococci) that cause pneumonia and sinus infections.

on the brain

In contrast to the direct effect of essential oils on the body, there is the indirect effect of scents on our brain. Scents can move us, touch our hearts. Smells open a special way, directly to the center of our brain: the limbic system. This is a group of structures in the brain involved in emotion, motivation, pleasure and emotional memory. It is (evolutionarily speaking) one of the oldest parts of the brain but also contains some newer structures. The limbic system is part of the cerebrum.

The olfactory mucosa in our nose is the only place in the body where the central nervous system is open and in direct contact with the outside world. Fragrances can trigger an avalanche of neurotransmitters in the limbic system. Neurotransmitters are substances that transmit signals. Well-known examples of neurotransmitters are serotonin (the fun hormone), endorphins (a pain-relieving hormone) or noradrenaline (a stimulating hormone). The limbic system is thus the control organ for our emotions and our soul life. Essential oils have a direct effect on this.

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Use of aromatherapy

Essential oils also have a wider use than purely medicinal: oil from the cedar in the wardrobe stops moths.

Nursing guidelines for care for people approaching the end of life include the use of aromatherapy. In hospices, hospitals and treatment centers, essential oils are evaporated as a fragrance or mixed with massage oil for hand, foot or body massage. The essential oils are used to reduce anxiety and anxiety and increase well-being. Massage therapists make extensive use of essential oils.

They mix drops of the oil on a base massage oil. Basic massage oils are, for example, almond oil, jojoba oil or avocado oil. The dilution depends on the nature of the complaint, the seriousness of the complaint and the sensitivity of the person for whom the oil is used (15-25 drops per 100 ml base oil).You can also make yourself a wonderful foot bath with essential oils.

The most important essential oils

Two hundred kilograms of rose petals are needed for one hundred grams of rose oil. One kilo of oil is obtained from 160 kilos of wild lavender.

  • The scent of the well-known essential oil of lavender is used for relaxation. Mixed and diluted on an almond oil base, a few drops of lavender essential oil applied directly to the skin will soothe a rash or sunburn.
  • The essential oil of the orange – extracted from the peel of the fruit – is known for its uplifting effect on your mood. Furthermore, this oil is digestive, disinfecting, harmonizing and warming. Citrus scents can give you a big boost in the morning.
  • The essential oils of chamomile and yarrow contain the component azulene. Azulene has a strong anti-inflammatory effect. The application of chamomile in all kinds of skin products is based on this anti-inflammatory effect.
  • The essential oil of melissa has an antiviral, antispasmodic, blood pressure lowering and is used for allergies, asthma, headaches and menstrual disorders.
  • Thujone is a constituent of sage , and acts on the nervous system; the use of sage to promote memory has its origin in this.
  • The essential oil of hyssop has an expectorant, blood pressure regulating and mental clarifying effect and is used for asthma, cough, bronchitis, high blood pressure, general strengthening after illness and poor concentration.
  • The essential oil of cypress is astringent, vasoconstrictor and promotes concentration. The oil is used in, among other things, bleeding or excessive menstruation, varicose veins and absent-mindedness.



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