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From Forest to Pharmacy, Aromatherapy Provides Healing

by Gail DellaFave A

romatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to heal and balance the mind/body/spirit, and essential oils have long been used as a base for allopathic (traditional) medicines. Now they serve in their own right as alternatives in holistic set- tings, as well.

Essential oils come from twigs, vines, bark, roots, leaves and flowers. They are nature’s way of providing remedies for what ails us and balanc- ing the human animal. Traditional healers have used extensive knowl- edge of medical plants and over time, aromatherapy has grown in stature. Essential oils are used worldwide as home remedies by thousands of people, and taking aromatherapy classes with a trained certified practi- tioner can be fun and practical, as long as we realize that self-treatment has limitations. Fragrances can be used as room fresheners, in baths, with mas- sage therapy or can be diffused into a room of a sick child or adult or to make them feel rested and comfort- able. Topically, oils may be applied to the skin at pulse points, or on joints that ache. On the soles of the feet, they

18 Hudson County can induce sleep.

In medicine, essential oils are used not only as delivery agents, but as ther- apeutic ingredients in their own right, such as oil of clove for toothaches and peppermint oil for indigestion. They readily evaporate in the open air and should be stored in a cool place. For sourcing, it is better to find a qualified and certified practitioner than to buy off the shelf in a store.

Emotions such as lust. maternal

love, protectiveness, sadness and grief are all triggered in the brain’s limbic system, which translates them into hor- monal responses that are crucial to the formation or memories. Processing the sense of smell is different than sight, hearing and touch; those senses are interpreted first at a higher level. With odor, emotional stimulation comes first. Aromatherapy offers diverse physical and psychological benefits, depending on the essential oil com- bination and method of application. Some common medicinal properties of essential oils used in aromatherapy are analgesic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent (causes contraction), sedative (causes sleep),

antispasmodic, expectorant (expels phlegm) and diuretic (increases urina- tion), among others. They treat a wide range of symptoms and conditions, such as gastrointestinal discomfort, skin conditions, menstrual pain and irregularities, stress-related conditions, mood disorders, circulatory problems, respiratory infections and wounds.

Lavender: Lavender is known as “the universal oil”; so when in doubt, use lavender. Famous for being calming and relaxing, it also soothes minor burns, cuts and scrapes. Its benefits are analgesic, anti-convulsive, anti- depressant, antifungal, antihistamine, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, skin regen- erative and sedative. Note that there are many types of lavender that serve specific purposes and needs.

Peppermint: It is an analgesic (relieves pain), antiseptic, antispasmodic, car- minative (relieves flatulence), digestive aid, emmenagogue, expectorant, nerv- ine (calms nerves) and vasoconstrictor, but those are just a fraction of its uses. It is known to soothe tummy discom- fort, bring down a fever and help

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