Aroma Therapy

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Aroma Therapy As A Support To Our Mental Health

When we consider our health, we frequently consider ways to lose weight, improve our appearance, or feel better physically. However, we frequently overlook the importance of our mental health in comparison to that of our physical health. With this fast moving world, stress has become part and parcel of our lives. Nearly every individual experiences stress which is harmful for both our physical and mental health. That is why it becomes all the more important to find strategies to minimize stress in our daily lives – this is simply essential for living a balanced life. 

One of the most rapidly expanding types of alternative healing method for assisting people with their mental as well as physical health is aromatherapy. We all have seen the increasing trend of using scented candles, while sleeping or when relaxing during our leisure times, people also go for massage sessions which make use of aromatherapy oils for a calming effect. All these activities encompass aromatherapy. It is a complementary therapy that uses essential oils derived from plants for the purpose of promoting physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

Aromatherapy and essential oils’ aromatic experiences have a dynamic impact on the mind and body. It entails using essential oils in a controlled manner to uphold and advance one’s physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing. Aromatherapy, often known as essential oil treatment, is the art and science of using fragrant essences that have been organically derived from plants. It aims to integrate psychological, spiritual, and physiological processes to strengthen a person’s innate healing process.

Since at least 3000 years ago, the traditional Ayurvedic medical system of India has used essential oils in its medicinal practises. Over 700 medicinal herbs, including cinnamon, ginger, myrrh, and sandalwood, are mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic literature as being useful for healing.

Classification of Aromatherapy

  1. Aromatherapy employing massage: Topical or massage use of essential oils can promote skin absorption. By moving through the bloodstream and influencing numerous organs of the body, this encourages a holistic healing of the entire body. Some of these oils also have strong antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties Thereby making it a completely natural and secure technique to detoxify and utilise nature’s richness, together with the sense of touch.
  2. Cosmetic aromatherapy: The cosmetic sector is also making use of aromatherapy’s health advantages to revive and renew the body in addition to providing crucial cleaning, toning, moisturising, and protecting capabilities for various skin and hair types.

Benefits of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy provides with the following benefits to an individual-

  • Improves Digestion
  • Relieves Stress
  • Boosts Memory
  • Relieves Pain
  • Acts as Antidepressant
  • Increases Energy Levels
  • Speeds up Healing
  • Strengthens Immune System 
  • Reduces Headaches
  • Regulates Sleep

Essential oils and its uses in aromatherapy

Essential oils are volatile, aromatic compounds that are extracted from various parts of plants, including leaves, flowers, roots, and stems, through methods such as steam distillation, cold pressing, and solvent extraction. The use of essential oils in aromatherapy has been found to have various therapeutic effects on the body and mind, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, enhancing cognitive function, promoting relaxation and sleep, relieving pain and inflammation, and supporting the immune system. Essential oils can be used in various ways, such as through inhalation, topical application, and ingestion, depending on the specific oil and the purpose of use.

  1. Inhalation of essential oils is one of the most common methods used in aromatherapy. This can be done through various means such as diffusing the oil in a diffuser or applying it to a piece of cloth or tissue for inhalation. When inhaled, the essential oil molecules enter the bloodstream through the lungs and interact with the limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for emotions, memory, and behaviour. This interaction is believed to be the mechanism by which essential oils can have a profound impact on the emotional and mental well-being of an individual.
  2. Topical application of essential oils is another common method used in aromatherapy. When applied to the skin, essential oils can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin’s pores and interact with various bodily systems. However, it is important to note that essential oils should be diluted before applying to the skin, as they can be highly concentrated and may cause skin irritation or sensitization if used undiluted. Carrier oils such as coconut oil or jojoba oil can be used to dilute essential oils and make them safe for use on the skin.
  3. Ingestion of essential oils is another method that can be used in aromatherapy. However, this method is controversial and should only be done under the guidance of a qualified healthcare practitioner, as some essential oils can be toxic when ingested. Ingestion of essential oils should only be done with high-quality, therapeutic-grade essential oils that are safe for internal use and in small amounts.

Efficacy of Essential Oils in aromatherapy

The efficacy of essential oils in aromatherapy is supported by a growing body of research. For example, a systematic review of randomized controlled trials on the use of essential oils for the management of anxiety found that inhalation of lavender essential oil was effective in reducing anxiety in a variety of populations, including pregnant women, dental patients, and patients undergoing surgery (Barati F, et.al., 2016).

Another systematic review of randomized controlled trials on the use of essential oils for pain relief found that essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus were effective in reducing pain intensity in a variety of conditions, including postoperative pain, labour pain, and headache (Lakhan SE, et. al., 2016).

In addition, some essential oils have been found to have antimicrobial properties and may be effective in fighting infections. For example, a study found that tea tree essential oil was effective in inhibiting the growth of various strains of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant strains (Carson CF, et. al., 2006). However, it is important to note that while essential oils may have antimicrobial properties, they should not be used as a replacement for traditional medical treatments for infections. While essential oils can have therapeutic effects, it is important to use them safely and appropriately. Essential oils should always be used in moderation and with caution, as they can be toxic if used improperly.

Plants Used In Aromatherapy

There are many plants used in aromatherapy, each with its own unique set of therapeutic properties. Some of the most commonly used plants in aromatherapy include:

  1. Lavender – known for its calming and relaxing properties, lavender essential oil is often used to promote sleep and reduce anxiety.
  2. Peppermint – known for its cooling and invigorating properties, peppermint essential oil is often used to relieve headaches and improve focus.
  3. Eucalyptus – known for its respiratory benefits, eucalyptus essential oil is often used to relieve congestion and promote clear breathing.
  4. Lemon – known for its uplifting and cleansing properties, lemon essential oil is often used to improve mood and support detoxification.
  5. Tea tree – known for its antimicrobial properties, tea tree essential oil is often used to treat skin infections and support immune function.
  6. Frankincense – known for its grounding and spiritual properties, frankincense essential oil is often used for meditation and spiritual practice.
  7. Rose – known for its soothing and calming properties, rose essential oil is often used to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  8. Cypress oil is yet one of the many essential oils which is used to relieve muscle pain and cramps.

These are just a few examples of the many plants used in aromatherapy. It is important to note that each essential oil should be used appropriately and with caution, as they can be highly concentrated and may have potential risks and side effects if not used correctly. To sum up, an increasing number of people use aromatherapy to alleviate tension and elicit particular emotions. While most individuals notice a short-term benefit from aromatherapy massages, baths, and candles, it is not a real science or medicine that should be utilised to cure illness. To buy essential oils, you can also visit the website www.miindmymiind.com.

Blog written by Ms.Titiksha, Counselling Psychologist

References

Aromatherapy History. http://www.aromatherapy.com/history.html.

Ayensu Edward. “Our green and living world”.  New York, NY: Cambridge university press, 1984. http://www.aromatherapy.com.

Barati F, Nasiri A, Akbari N, Sharifzadeh G. The Effect of Aromatherapy on Anxiety in Patients. Nephrourol Mon. 2016 Jul 31;8(5):e38347. doi:10.5812/numonthly.38347. PMID: 27878109; PMCID: PMC5111093.

Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of  antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006 Jan;19(1):50 62. doi: 10.1128/CMR.19.1.50-62.2006. PMID: 16418522; PMCID: PMC1360273.

Gabriel Mojay. What is Aromatherapy? National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. https://naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/about-aromatherapy/what-is-aromatherapy/.

John Lee. History of Aromatherapy. Providence Apothecary & Holistic Centre; August 24, 2016. https://providenceapothecary.com/history-of-aromatherapy/

John  Staughton.  10  Amazing  Benefits  of  Aromatherapy;  March  12,  2019. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/benefits-of-aromatherapy.html.

Lakhan SE, Sheafer H, Tepper D. The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pain Res Treat. 2016;2016:8158693. doi: 10.1155/2016/8158693. Epub 2016 Dec 14.  PMID: 28070420; PMCID:    PMC5192342.

Types  of  Aromatherapy  –  Fragrance,  Massage,  Cosmetic.  Medicine  Content  Team.  https://www.medindia.net.

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      1 (s) I found it hard to wind down.

       

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      2 (a) I was aware of dryness of my mouth.

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      3 (d) I couldn’t seem to experience any positive feeling at all.

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      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
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      4 (a) I experienced breathing difficulty (e.g. excessively rapid breathing,
      breathlessness in the absence of physical exertion).

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      5 (d) I found it difficult to work up the initiative to do things.

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      6 (s) I tended to over-react to situations.

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      7 (a) I experienced trembling (e.g. in the hands).

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      8 (s) I felt that I was using a lot of nervous energy.

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      9 (a) I was worried about situations in which I might panic and make a fool
      of myself.

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      1 - Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time.
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      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      10 (d) I felt that I had nothing to look forward to.

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      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
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      11 (s) I found myself getting agitated.

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      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      12 (s) I found it difficult to relax.

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      2 - Applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of time.
      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      13 (d) I felt down-hearted and blue.

      0 - Did not apply to me at all.
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      3 - Applied to me very much or most of the time.

      14 (s) I was intolerant of anything that kept me from getting on with what I
      was doing.

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      15 (a) I felt I was close to panic.

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      16 (d) I was unable to become enthusiastic about anything.

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      17 (d) I felt I wasn’t worth much as a person.

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      18 (s) I felt that I was rather touchy.

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      19 (a) I was aware of the action of my heart in the absence of physical
      exertion (e.g. sense of heart rate increase, heart missing a beat).

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      20 (a) I felt scared without any good reason.

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      21 (d) I felt that life was meaningless.

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      Locus of control

      A big question we all feel - am I in control of my life?

      This test helps you ascertain the degree of control that you believe  you have over your life and the events that occur. This belief plays a huge role in the satisfaction levels that we feel.


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      1 / 10

      Is there some bad habit, such as smoking, that you would like to break but can’t?

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      9 / 10

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          How do You Cope with Anger?

          (The Behavioural Anger Response Questionnaire, BARQ)

          What do you most likely to do when you experience anger? This 34-item measure assesses your anger responses for children and adolescents – and may tell you which response you tend to favour when experiencing this strong, unpleasant emotion. A list of statements are provided below. State whether each of the statements are not true, sometimes true, or often true. This measure was developed specifically for children and young adolescents.


          /34

          1 / 34

          I say something nasty to the person who made me angry.

          2 / 34

          I use strong gestures (for example, make a fist, wave my arms, or give a hand sign).

          3 / 34

          I swear or curse, at the person who made me angry.

          4 / 34

          I hit or push the person who made me angry.

          5 / 34

          I express my anger by slamming a door, or hitting something.

          6 / 34

          I shout.

          7 / 34

          I wait until I am calm again and then talk to the person who made me angry. 

          8 / 34

          I carefully think it over and then tell the person who made me angry how I feel.

          9 / 34

          In a calm voice, I tell the person who made me angry how I honestly feel.

          10 / 34

          I try to understand what happened, so I can explain things to the person who made me angry.

          11 / 34

          I stay calm, and I try to talk about the problem and the person who made me angry. 

          12 / 34

          I leave the situation in order to calm down, and then try to solve the problem.

          13 / 34

          I do not show my anger but I talk about what happened with someone afterwards.

          14 / 34

          I leave the situation and look for someone who will agree with me.

          15 / 34

          I leave the situation, find someone to listen to my story, and ask for advice. 

          16 / 34

          I think about the problem first and then talk about it with someone.

          17 / 34

          I leave the situation and call a friend or family member to tell him/her how I feel. 

          18 / 34

          Even without planning it, I usually end up talking about my feelings with someone.

          19 / 34

          I get rid of my anger by playing music, writing, or painting. 

          20 / 34

          I just keep busy, until I stop feeling angry.

          21 / 34

          I work off my anger by doing some sport. 

          22 / 34

          I stay on my own to get rid of my anger.

          23 / 34

          I simply get very busy with other things to get rid of my anger.

          24 / 34

          I work off my anger by doing something else, like playing on the computer.

          25 / 34

          I tell myself that what happened is not important.

          26 / 34

          I try to forget what happened.

          27 / 34

          I put what happened out of my mind.

          28 / 34

          I do not want to have to cause trouble, so I keep my feelings to myself.

          29 / 34

          I just wait to feel better.

          30 / 34

          I try to keep busy so I can forget about what happened.

          31 / 34

          I keep thinking about what I wish I had done, but didn’t do.

          32 / 34

          I find it hard to stop thinking about what happened.

          33 / 34

          I am upset for a long time after this kind of situation.

          34 / 34

          In my mind, I go over the situation that made me angry again and again.

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          Are You Kind to Yourself?

          (The Self-Compassion Scale – Short Form, SCS-SF)

          Are you kind to yourself, and accepting of your personality? Self-compassion relates to your ability to ‘hold one’s suffering with a sense of warmth, connection and concern (Neff, 2003). This ability consists of self-kindness, self-judgement, the view that others suffer too (common humanity), feelings of isolation from others when one fails, as well as mindfulness towards one’s difficult situation and the extent to which one over-identifies with failure. This 12-item measure assesses your self-compassion ability. Simply answer each statement from ‘almost never’ to ‘almost always’ to indicate the extent to which you engage in these behaviours during difficult times of challenge and setbacks.


          /12

          1 / 12

          I’m intolerant and impatient towards those aspects of my personality I don’t like.

          2 / 12

          I’m disapproving and judgmental about my own flaws and inadequacies.

          3 / 12

          When I feel inadequate in some way, I try to remind myself that feelings of inadequacy are shared by most people.

          4 / 12

          When I’m feeling down I tend to obsess and fixate on everything that’s wrong.

          5 / 12

          When I fail at something that’s important to me, I tend to feel alone in my failure.

          6 / 12

          When something upsets me I try to keep my emotions in balance.

          7 / 12

          When I’m going through a very hard time, I give myself the caring and tenderness I need.

          8 / 12

          I try to see my failings as part of the human condition.

          9 / 12

          When I’m feeling down, I tend to feel like most other people are probably happier than I am.

          10 / 12

          When something painful happens I try to take a balanced view of the situation.

          11 / 12

          I try to be understanding and patient towards those aspects of my personality I don’t like.

          12 / 12

          When I fail at something important to me I become consumed by feelings of inadequacy.

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          How Mindfully Aware and Attentive are You?

          (Mindful Attempt Awareness Scale; MAAS)

          Being mindful means being consciously, deliberately attentive towards your present circumstances and environment, and being curious and non- judgmental towards the thoughts and emotions that arise as a result of one’s situation. This 15-item measure of mindfulness, called the Mindful Attempt Awareness Scale (MAAS) is designed to assess how mindful you generally are.


          /15

          1 / 15

          I could be experiencing some emotion and not be conscious of it until sometime later.

          2 / 15

          I break or spill things because of carelessness, not paying attention, or thinking of something else.

          3 / 15

          I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present.

          4 / 15

          I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I experience along the way.

          5 / 15

          I tend not to notice feelings of physical tension or discomfort until they really grab my attention.

          6 / 15

          I forget a person’s name almost as soon as I’ve been told it for the first time.

          7 / 15

          It seems I am “running on automatic” without much awareness of what I’m doing.

          8 / 15

          I rush through activities without being really attentive to them.

          9 / 15

          I get so focused on the goal I want to achieve that I lose touch of what I’m doing.

          10 / 15

          I do jobs or tasks automatically, without being aware of what I’m doing.

          11 / 15

          I find myself listening to someone with one ear, doing something else at the same time.

          12 / 15

          I drive places on “automatic pilot” and then wonder why I went there.

          13 / 15

          I find myself preoccupied with the future or the past.

          14 / 15

          I find myself doing things without paying attention.

          15 / 15

          I snack without being aware that I’m eating.

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