What is aromatherapy and how does it work?

Published: 23 March, 2016

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to create a change within the body, either physically or emotionally.

The oils are either inhaled through the mouth and nose, or absorbed into the skin through the tiny hair follicles all over our body. The particles in the oils are so small; smaller than a virus, they can absorb very deep into the skin and into our blood stream, where they are carried all around the body to affect different systems within it.

As the tiny molecules are inhaled, they travel through the Limbic system; one of the most primitive systems in our body. It is concerned with our survival and emotions. For example, it is responsible for detecting whether something is dangerous or poisonous. Anything that is bad for our health generally smells bad. On the other hand, if we are drawn to a specific essential oil, this is usually an indicator of what the body needs most. The Limbic system then sends messages either to the Endocrine System, to produce hormones and affect our mood, or the Autonomic Nervous System to affect our body.

The Autonomic Nervous System is responsible for all the things we do without thinking; breathing, digesting etc . When our bodies are put under stress, i.e. when we are in danger, stressed or generally active our body prepares itself for action by stimulating our ‘fight or flight’ response. When this happens, our blood pressure is raised, our liver concentrates on the conversion of sugar to energy rather than the elimination of toxins and our digestion shuts down, instead, trying to eliminate waste quickly to make us as light as possible. Our reproduction system shuts down, our muscles tighten and immune system is temporarily boosted but weakened long term. When we then relax, the systems in our body normalise.

Now imagine if you never gave yourself that time to relax and your body was constantly under stress. Many of us are guilty of this and this is the reason why stress is one of the biggest killers in the world.

Specially chosen essential oils can help induce rest and relaxation, to re balance our body properly and keep us healthy. Similarly, specific oils can energize and awaken your system if you’re feeling sluggish or tired. The more you use an oil blend, the faster it will take effect as the body will recognise the aroma and react instinctively.

Here at In Harmony, our massages are performed using blends by Aromatherapy Associates, combining powerful essential oils with pressure point massage techniques for complete relaxation. Aromatherapy Associates uses only oils taken from the first (or best) distillation of the plant. These are the most powerful and beneficial.