Written By Karen Way
"If the day and night are such that you greet them with joy and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet scented herbs - that is your success. All nature is your congratulations." - Henry David Thoreau
Our human body is indeed able to experience joy in the sweet fragrance of flowers and herbs. Breathe the aromatic vapours of pure essential oils and you may feel your melancholy lift. A calmness within your being may be noticed, or your mind may focus more easily. This is aromatherapy.
Many are talking of aromatherapy - the use of essential oils for healing. The life essence extracted from flowers, trees and herbs is called an essential oil. This extracted life essence is truly alive!
You can feel the therapeutic effect simply by breathing the aromatic vapours of an essential oil. When we breathe in air, the aroma molecule is translated into a signal by the receptor cells in the nose. This signal is sent to the olfactory bulb and then on to the limbic and hypothalamus parts of the brain.
While it is not scientifically proven - it is believed that the essential oil aroma activates the "pharmacy" within our brains; the neurochemicals. These neurochemicals (serotonin, endorphins, etc.) are the "words" that our brain uses to communicate with our nervous and other body systems. For example, the aroma of a calming oil would cause release of seratonin, a euphoric aroma - release of endorphin, a stimulating oil - release of noradrenalin. Pain relief and other physical effects are also experienced when these neurochemicals are released. Studies have been done on the effects of essential oils on brain waves. A rhythm exhibiting calmness was produced when an oil known as a sedative was inhaled, and a stimulating aroma caused an alert response.
So we see that our mind can play an important role in our well being. It can also play a disruptive role. We live in times of much emotional and mental stress. These stressors can range from work pressures and financial worries to relationship problems, grief and trauma. Scientific studies have shown that extreme stress can decrease the function of our immune system. Our mental health can be adversely affected as well.
As body and mind function together, extreme stress may cause physical and emotional symptoms. We might feel helpless or depressed. Possibly we experience headaches, digestive problems, or frequent infections. We may feel anxious, irritable and have difficulty sleeping. We want to bring the body and mind back to peak functioning.
There are holistic ways to accomplish this .. and aromatherapy is one of them. It can be of help by working through the brain - through the mind - and through the emotions. We can experience in our mind how it might work ...
The tender yellow flower of the ylang ylang tree is so sweet - a flower so worthy of love it is placed on a wedding bed in Indonesia. Imagine breathing this exotic fragrance and feeling the joy in your body of its natural perfume. Now, close your eyes and feel the lush coolness of an immense forest filled with cedars, trees of frankincense and sandalwood. Breathe deeply the fresh scent of those timeless trees. Feel the calm as your mind and being become centred.
.. these are the joys of a life that "emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet scented herbs" .
Karen Way is the mother-father energy of Ancient Healing Art, a web-based aromatherapy shop. She created her business from a desire to share knowledge and offer products that helped her transform on physical, mental and emotional levels. Karen is an active member of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and the American Alliance of Aromatherapy.