Have you ever caught a whiff of something cooking in the kitchen, or of someone wearing your ex’s favorite scent, that sent you traveling back in time? That’s because the powerful effects of aromas are directly linked to our minds, our memories, our moods, and ultimately, our well-being.
Whether it’s a drop of lavender oil on your pillow to help you drift off to sleep, a spray of mood-balancing geranium or roman chamomile to relieve the day’s stress, or a hint of eucalyptus on your temples to rid yourself of fatigue, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) defines aromatherapy as "the therapeutic application or the medicinal use of aromatic substances (essential oils) for holistic healing."
“The first step to easily incorporating aromatherapy into your day is as simple as allowing your intuition to guide you. Whatever aroma you’re gravitating towards is likely what your body needs most that day,” says Fiona Hepher, Saje Educator for Canadian company, Saje Natural Wellness.
With over 6,000 years of history, aromatherapy is nothing new, but it’s only just beginning to make its way into the medical mainstream. While there’s little evidence that aromatherapy alone can cure illness and disease, research increasingly proves that aromatherapy can play a pleasant and effective role in complementing conventional treatments - such as chemotherapy - thanks to its ability to relieve symptoms of insomnia, nausea, migraines, and muscle tension to name a few.
"If you’ve got a health concern, we probably have a natural solution. Our goal is to provide you with 100% natural options so you can switch out almost anything in your medicine cabinet with a natural alternative. Today, we have over 500 products for specific ailments like sleep, stress, headaches, digestion and pain each powered with the plants that best support that specific concern,” Hepher adds, “It’s such an amazing step forward in the natural medicine marketplace for us to have three of our essential oil blends recognized as over-the-counter medications (OTCs). Pain Release, a topical analgesic, and Fortify and Sweet Comfort, both antitussives, are all considered to be OTC by the FDA."
There are two ways to receive the benefits of aromatherapy; through inhalation, and by applying it to the skin.
When inhaled through the use of a diffuser, spray, or oil droplets, aromatherapy can provide respiratory disinfection, decongestant, and psychological benefits. Once it reaches the brain, it affects our brain’s limbic region, which is directly linked to emotions, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance.
“The limbic region of the brain is the ancient part of the brain, the reptilian region as they call it. Oils are capable of removing layers of emotions that we have built around us, causing blockages. Essential oils are amazing tools to let those layers come out, like the peeling of an onion.” says Farida Irani, who has dedicated almost 30 years to researching and revolutionizing the world of holistic therapies, specifically Ayurvedic aromatherapy, through her Sydney-based company and clinic, Subtle Energies. She adds, “20% of all plant life on earth have essential oils, and most oils are anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and antiviral to a certain degree. The oils are the plant’s defense mechanism, and so we use the immune system of the plant on our own immune system, creating a synergy. They’re not just feel good substances, they truly work on the physical self.”
Topical aromatherapy, through massage oils or bath and skincare products, allows users to target specific areas for a more localized effect.
"A common misconception many people have when they hear the word aromatherapy is that you inhale essential oils to receive their benefits. While that’s true, essential oils when blended with a carrier can also be applied directly to the skin. Essential oils are about 80 times more potent than the herb itself and apart from a rare few, like Lavender, due to their concentrated strength are not safe to apply directly to the skin without a carrier. Saje blends are pre-blend with the perfect amount of carrier oil so that they can safely be applied directly to the skin," says Hepher. "Anything you apply to the skin – our largest organ – gets absorbed into the blood stream. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your products include only natural ingredients – and why we feel passionately about making essential oils accessible, convenient and easy."
Saje's blends have been formulated with the most therapeutic ingredients for a specific ailment. For example, the Energy Oil Blend - which combines lemon, peppermint, and rosemary - is designed to be a pick-me-up for that mid-afternoon slump.
Saje's CEO, Kate Ross LeBlanc, says "a single note ingredient is like a trumpet, but the blend is like the symphony."
Tell us about some of your favorite ways to harness the power of aromatherapy in the comments section below.