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What is Aromatherapy? It’s More than Just a Pretty Smell!

You deeply inhale the sweet smell of newly cut grass and feel rejuvenated. The scent of a fragrant perfume catches you by surprise and you long for your friend you haven’t seen in ages. Freshly baked bread awakens feelings of comfort, or a just-peeled orange brings back childhood memories with your sister.

We’ve all experienced the effects of smell on our emotions or memories, but did you know you could use that connection to your benefit? Aromatherapy is more than just a pretty smell; it’s a healing modality that has been used for centuries. So, what is aromatherapy? Here are a few things to consider.

Think of Aromatherapy as a Specialty Within Herbal Medicine

Aromatherapy is a specialized healing modality within the larger scope of herbal medicine. In herbal medicine all parts of a plant are utilized, but aromatherapy extracts only the essential oils from the plant for their curative properties. It is an alternative or complementary medicine that targets existing ailments, but also harmoniously integrates mind and body in a preventive process to keep your entire being healthy.

Treat Your Body’s Chemistry, Physiology, and Psychology with Essential Oils

Individual aromas and chemistries of essential oils produce distinct responses in the body. The effects of these oils can work on the chemistry of the body, and are used to stimulate the endocrine system that releases hormones for specific intentions.

Several oils have anti-viral or anti-fungal properties. Some produce effects specific to the body’s physiology – reducing pain, treating inflammation, or enhancing the immune system. Other essential oils are used primarily to influence the emotions, either stimulating or calming them. Typically, oils have multiple properties that can treat more than one system of the body simultaneously.

Customize the Method of Aromatherapy that Works Best for You

Aromatherapy is not strictly limited to an inhalation process, although inhalation is highly effective since the olfactory bulbs offer a direct path to the brain. You can mix essential oils with olive, almond, or another base and apply directly to the skin or pulse points for targeted absorption. Try adding oils like jasmine or lavender to a room diffuser for restful sleep, or using lemongrass or eucalyptus in your office as an energizer.

Luxuriate in an aromatherapy bath by adding a few drops of an essential oil to your bath water, and enjoy the added benefit of treating your skin. Enhance the healing of muscles, joints, and injury or disease related pains when you add essential oils to massage lotions or oils. No matter how you use essential oils, they always provide the added benefits of inhalation.

Use Essential Oils for a Number of Common Age Related Ailments

The most common uses of aromatherapy are for elevating mood and cognition, and alleviating pain. Essential oils such as lemon, orange, bergamot, or lavender that have shown to relieve anxiety and stress, can be combined with massage oil to dramatically enhance the experience of healing and well-being during a massage.

Peppermint has long been used to treat digestive problems, and neroli has been linked to lowering blood pressure. Almost all essential oils have some kind of antiseptic properties, and many are natural painkillers. According to Dr. Mary Starr, there are 10 single oils or oil blends that improve cognitive function, regulate emotions, and maintain a healthy brain.

Find an Aromatherapy Practitioner to Guide You

While any of us can add a few drops of essential oil to a room diffuser for a pleasing and calming effect, to really benefit from aromatherapy you need to consult an aromatherapy practitioner, naturopath, holistic healer, or other qualified professional trained in using oils correctly and safely.

Under the qualified direction of your doctor and a trained holistic professional, aromatherapy can be a gentle alternative to treatments and medications you may be currently using. If nothing else, infuse a little jasmine into your night air for some restful sleep.


Explore this topic on a deeper level with these amazing books that we have hand-picked for you. Please check them out and let us know what you think!

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, by Valerie Ann Worwood

Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, by Kathi Keville

The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils, by Kurt Schnaubelt

Do you believe aromatherapy could improve your overall health? What uses and delivery methods resonate with you? Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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