A smell can take us back to old times and awaken memories that trigger happiness. As an important pilot through our lives, the sense of smell can also be used in other ways. Influenced by fragrances, it promotes well-being and health. Essential oils are the messengers. Most people appreciate the soothing scent of lavender or a massage with balm oil. Many confirm the headache-relieving effect of peppermint oil on the temples. Doctors recommend in dermatophytes baths, which are added a few drops of tea tree oil.
Heal through essential oils
We are talking about aromatherapy, which is now being accorded more and more doctors and scientists an important role in holistic therapy. Aromatherapy is not a new branch of alternative medicine and much more than the lighting of an aroma lamp.
Essential oils are used in the form of whole and partial baths, as compresses and wraps, for inhalation, as massage oil or medicament. The purity and quality of the oil play a major role here.
The long history of aromatherapy
For thousands of years people have used the fragrant essences of plants. The aroma treatment goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, but also among the Aztecs, the Incas and in Tibet, fragrances were known for the healing of the sick. Aromatherapy reached its peak in the Middle Ages. Above all, the monasteries planted medicinal herb gardens.
In the 17th century various flavors were used to improve the resistance to infections. Even the former hospitals used scents like rosemary. In this context, phytotherapy (Greek phyton = plant) still owes many insights to medicine, which also benefit the modern pharmaceutical industry.
The ancient roots can also be found in various records of the "Far East", where plants were used already 5, 000 years ago. In modern times, the triumphant advance of essential oils began after 1900 with the work of the French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé, who gave this branch of plant medicine the name "aromatherapy". Dr. Jean Valnet discovered the healing properties of vegetable oils when he treated wounded during World War II.
Application areas of aromatherapy
In addition to medical indications, flavors are also used in the environment of wellness and cosmetics for internal and external application. "There is a detectable effect in many areas, and even in clinics, aromatherapy has been used in physical therapy for decades, " says Hanns Hatt, a professor at the Ruhr University Bochum.
How do essential oils work?
Essential oils are fragrances that are stored in different amounts in the form of tiny oil droplets in parts of plants (flowers, peels, fruits, roots, leaves). As the name (ethereal) suggests, the oils are easily volatile. Depending on your choice, natural essential oils stimulate, have a harmonizing or soothing effect.
The effect of the oils lasts longer than the "conscious perception" by the sense of smell, as this fatigues after about 15 minutes. The essential oils act directly on the brain, influencing a variety of mental, emotional, and physical mechanisms that we control without being aware of.
Essential oils are actually for self-protection
The healing effect of the oils is related to the strategies of the plants against pests. The leaves and flowers of the plants namely contain essential oils for self-protection against bacteria or fungi and for attracting beneficial insects.
Among other things, the "Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy" in San Francisco has been successfully researching the effects of such oils for many years. It is the monoterpenes contained in most oils that penetrate easily through cell membranes and can be detected in the blood within a few minutes.
For example, they are absorbed through the skin in a full bath and additionally inhaled via the respiratory tract. However, they can also be used as a compress, for massages, as a sauna infusion or in fragrance lamps.
Therapeutic efficacy studies
Some clinical studies have shown therapeutic efficacy for essential oils, such as eucalyptus, peppermint or lavender oil. Overall, however, the number of studies carried out is small.
Professor Hatt explains that the lack of accurate scientific data is due to the fact that the essential oils are not readily comparable since they are subject to variations in chemical composition.