Understanding Aromatherapy: What it Is and How to Use It

July 5, 2013 Comments Off

Aromatherapy is a natural healing modality in which specific scents are used to heal or soothe various medical conditions. The various scents employed in aromatherapy bypass the rational mind and work through the sense of smell to foster healing.

This article will provide a brief overview of how some aromatherapy scents work and what you can expect if you decide to try aromatherapy for yourself.

A variety of essential oils from nature demonstrate healing powers.

Aromatherapy in Practice

There are several different methods of applying aromatherapy to a patient depending upon the type of product and/or the purpose for the treatment. These methods consist of:

  • Directly inhaling a scent into your nose
  • Spraying a scent in the air for you to inhale
  • Topical application of an essential oil onto your skin through massage or in a bath

Examples of Aromatherapy Scents


Sandalwood is often used in aromatherapy and is typically applied topically. It has a soft, warm, woody, and balsamic fragrance, which tends to have a calming and sedative effect.

Sandalwood is an example of an aroma that might be used for anyone who is experiencing excess anxiety. It can help the person feel more grounded and balanced through its relaxing properties.

Although Sandalwood works well on people experiencing emotional problems, it also can be used as a physical remedy. For example, if there is a rash on the skin, or chapping, Sandalwood can be applied directly to the skin, to relieve the troubled area.


The essential oil of Rosmarinus officinalis does not actually smell much like the herb popular in cooking. It has a more camphorous odor and like other camphor oils is excellent for circulation. It can be used in massage oil for tired, aching muscles, but because it stimulates circulation, it is often touted for memory retention and alertness.


One of the reported gifts of the Magi to the newborn Christ child, Frankincense has been valued for its aromatic qualities since ancient times. While a woody scent, it is fruitier and sweeter than other essential oils in the same category.

Frankincense is used to enhance spirituality and is said to ground and calm practitioners who use it. Another relative is Palo Santo oil from South America since it also contains the ingredient limonene.


Lemon, grapefruit, and orange essential oils all are uplifting, but each may be used for slightly different purposes. All three are recommended to increase happiness and peace, but for a practical household application of removing the odor of smoke from a room, lemon wins hands-down.

Citrus essential oils such as orange or lemon are uplifting to the spirit.

Getting Started with Aromatherapy

If aromatherapy sounds like it might appeal to you or be useful for a health condition you wish to address, you may want to consult an aromatherapist. Specialists will have access to more essential oils than you can find in your local health food store. These days, it is easy to find aromatherapists listed online or through chiropractic offices and other naturopaths.

Whether you use a professional or go it alone, you have almost nothing to lose in trying aromatherapy — and potentially a lot to gain in health and wellbeing.

Sarah Boisvert is an author who writes on a wide range of topics from health and wellness to business management. She has profiled Steve Jobs, David Kiger, and Dr. Oz.

Photo Credits Just2shutter via FreeDigitalPhotos.net, dan via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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