Sensory Stimulation: Aromatherapy and Its Use as a Relaxation Tool

In the twenty first century, everything is fast paced. Politics, the economy, the lifestyles of many working adults, are all based on obtaining an objective efficiently and rapidly. This focus on work leaves no room for relaxation; essential to maintaing mental and physical health. But when about 60% of Americans suffer sleep deprevation, cumbersome work ours, and unrealistic achievements, the stress starts to build, affecting emotional states and even manifesting itself in physical complications. In hopes of combating stress, several alternative health remedies can be suggested to help promote relaxation and a sound body and mind. One of these methods, is aromatherapy.

Background: What is Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine practice that is based around the belief that aromas given off by certain herbs can affect the body in different ways. Aromatherapy really has no localized starting period or location; many cultures have used the burning of plants in order to grant boons such as energy, sexual potency, relaxation, and increased cognitive ability. Although it may seem dangerous, aromatherapy today uses herbs that are shown to prevent any sort of temporary high; herbs used are safe and effective for those seeking to further their relaxation time.

Application: How and Why it Works

Aromatherapy is theorized to have beneficial effects on the body because of chemicals known as essential oils. At the molecular level, essential oils are lipids that produce the scent of a species of plant. Normally, distillation is used to harness the plant’s scent. When this occurs, they are then implanted into products such as perfumes, shampoos, and aromatherapy tools.

Practitioners commonly use thin, elongated strips of wood that have been soaked with an essential oil. When the strip is lit and then burnt out immediately after, a trail of smoke is produced, which is used as a transport medium for the aroma to spread. Aromatherapy is frequently combined with massage therapy or yoga in order to help deepen the relaxation experience. In theory, when the essential oils are inhaled, their scent detected by sensors connected to the brain. Depending on the aroma, the brain can detect and change an effect in the body by reading the lipid structure in the essential oil.

On a side note: people that are unaware of aromatherapy may have actually used it when using products with Eucalyptus; the cool scent actually is known to open nasal passages, which is why many nasal sprays and decongestants use it.

Deepening the Relaxation: Benefits to Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is frequently used as a complimentary therapy with massages or yoga. If one focuses deeper into the brain’s chemistry, they discover that certain responses are trigged by essential oils that contain a chemical known as an olfactory. This chemical is what is detected by the brain, triggering the limbic system, which does two things: the limbic system is firstly, the center where human memory is stored; an aroma may trigger a memory which brings back positive thoughts. The limbic system also controls receptors that regulate blood and endocrine levels; the determinants of one’s mental and physical state.

By using aromatic oils, whether it’s alone or with a massage, bath, or yoga, the user will surely experience a deeper state of relaxation; with lower blood pressure, and happy thoughts triggered by the scent, a person will find themselves falling deeper into a state of happiness. It’s not just effective by a smell, but actually works on the molecular level.

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