“Many people assume that aromatherapy is about diffusing essential oils – instead of using air fresheners – to make your home smell nice, or encourage relaxation…. but that doesn’t even scratch the surface.”
Rachel Raba is a certified aromatherapist, based in Washington, DC. She says many people are looking for natural ways to reduce anxious feelings and manage stress. Personally, she has used aromatherapy and essential oils to support her own issues with digestion and abdominal pain. She now utilizes essential oils to support a spectrum of health and wellness needs for her clients.
Aromatherapy employs the use of essential oils – utilized aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally – and other natural botanicals to maintain and promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Their specific chemical compositions and aromas promote relaxation and sleep, reduce negative emotions, reduce muscle aches, improve digestion, promote clear breathing, strengthen the immune system, increase energy, improve the condition of skin and hair and offer a natural – nontoxic – alternative to household cleansers.
Aromatherapy has also proven valuable in supporting those undergoing cancer treatments and by helping with stress management, detoxification and boosting immunity.
Raba explains essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the flowers, seeds, stems, bark, roots, and other parts of plants.
“When you zest the peel of an orange, rub a fresh peppermint leaf between your fingers, or inhale the scent of a rose, you are experiencing essential oils,” she says. “After distillation or cold pressing, these tiny drops are highly concentrated and extremely powerful. Often a drop is all you need to achieve your purpose.”
Raba says essential oil has a diverse chemistry – which gives it the ability to work in multiple areas of the body, simultaneously. They have a localized effect when applied to the skin, but also systemic effects – as they are carried by the blood stream through the body.
“I teach people how to use them safely and effectively, designing a protocol that fits their lifestyle,” Raba said. “Working with other healthcare providers to develop a holistic and comprehensive approach to wellness.”
Raba has observed the impact of aromatherapy on the quality of life for many people. She cites a 75-year-old woman, plagued by sleepless nights, who utilized a blend of two oils and was able to regain normal sleep patterns. In another example, a client who – experiencing painful, frequent heartburn – found essential oils so effective in relieving her indigestion that she began using them for all her physical complaints, including healing minor surgical incisions and lessening the discomfort of hemorrhoids.
To improve circulation, Raba suggests diluted oils which create warmth and reduce pain such as ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, peppermint and thyme. For a restful sleep they recommend lavender, cedarwood, ylang-ylang, chamomile, bergamot, geranium and frankincense.
As an anti-inflammatory aid: peppermint, turmeric, yarrow, eucalyptus and black pepper. For sadness: bergamot, frankincense, ginger grapefruit, Melissa, sandalwood. Digestion: fennel, ginger, cardamom, spearmint. To curb food cravings: grapefruit, ginger, peppermint, cinnamon. For anxiety: clary sage, lemongrass, fir, sweet orange and ylang-ylang.
“There are essential oils to support literally every emotional need, whether it’s cleansing, grounding, uplifting, balancing, comforting or calming. Roman Chamomile if you want to feel less frustration and more purpose. Or if you are experiencing profound sadness; Frankincense for meditation. Aromatic use is the fastest way to access the emotional center of the brain.”
Raba says those who have the greatest success with Aromatherapy incorporate essential oils as part of a holistic approach to wellness.
“They integrate essential oils and other natural tools into their lifestyle, making one small change at a time. What I love about essential oils is that they are truly gifts from the earth, 100 per cent a product of Mother Nature. It’s a beautiful harmony with nature when we can use the wisdom of plants to meet our needs.”