8/26/11

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Aromatherapy: The Science Behind the Scents

Twice yearly, Sharon Simpson-Dogon was struck with a bilateral ear infection and bronchitis simultaneously.  After many years of suffering, her health breakthrough finally came with her discovery of the antiseptic properties of essential oils – specifically the DoTERRA essential oil line. She is now an independent consultant with DoTERRA.  “About three years ago, I started using a specified mix of DoTERRA’s oil of oregano, cinnamon bark, and Onguard when I started to notice symptoms. As a result, I no longer suffer like I used to,” Sharon said.  “These have helped my body do what it was meant to do naturally – remain healthy.”

Lavender plants, from which lavender essential oil is derived. Lavender is one of many essential oils.

Because they boast antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and other properties, essential oils are the foundation of a field known as aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the use of highly concentrated essential oils found in nature, such as lavender or rosemary, to promote health via inhalation or topical application.

Though the modern field of aromatherapy is relatively recent, the use of essential oils has been around for at least 5,000 years. Ancient China, Persia, India and Egypt are cited as the first to recognize and use essential oils to enhance well-being.

Fast forward to today, and the role of essential oils has evolved to become an important part of current health and beauty practices. And, beginning in mid-September 2011, DoTERRA essential oils will be available at the Spa and Salon at Garden of the Gods Club. Amanda Rigby, director of the Spa and Salon at Garden of the Gods Club, is excited to introduce the line to clients. “DoTERRA refines their oils multiple times before sending them in to be tested,” she said. “This ensures the purest grade oils are the only ones being sold.”

 “DoTERRA’s oils have really outdone any other that I’ve tried,” Sharon said. “The owners of the company are dedicated to the potency and purity of the oils.”

Keep reading to learn more about the science behind aromatherapy, as well as what essential oils may have to offer you.

Research-Backed Relief
Aromatherapy is not without science to back its claims of health and beauty promotion. One study accredited by ProCE, an organization that provides continuing education to pharmacists and health-care providers, found that essential oils yielded some eye-opening results when used as supportive treatment for various conditions.

Though lavender’s scent is popular among candles and room fresheners, it may also have serious health benefits. The study found that when inhaled, lavender’s essential oil may relieve anxiety in patients about to undergo dialysis, increase accuracy on math computations, improve sleep by inducing drowsiness, and even reduce agitation in patients with dementia. Humidified lavender also produced a small, positive effect on blood pressure, pulse, pain, anxiety, depression, and sense of well-being in patients. Further, essential Neroli oil, or the oil from bitter orange blossoms, has been shown to relieve anxiety in patients who have just had cardiac surgery.

 “Essential oils used in aromatherapy have chemical compounds that occur naturally,” Sharon said. “When you breathe in the aroma from essential oils, the molecules hit the Olfactory nerve and go straight to the brain, producing an almost immediate reaction.”

Many of Simpson-Dogon’s clients have experienced tremendous headache relief with essential oil. “Most people with general headaches benefit from rubbing one drop of peppermint oil onto the temples with the index finger. Because peppermint is a vasodilator, it offers relief,” she said.

A Wide Array of Beauty Benefits
Beyond their health benefits, essential oils can also serve as beauty boosters. Many essential oils have antioxidant properties that promote skin health. They can be used in steam facials or applied directly to the skin. “While lavender is very calming to the skin, frankincense boasts anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Sandalwood is also great for the skin in general, and geranium is very supportive to mature skin,” said Simpson-Dogon.

The essential oil consultant also recommends using lemon oil to clarify and brighten nails, and sandalwood to nourish them. For hair she encourages the use of rosemary to protect against dandruff, and peppermint or tea tree oil to promote scalp health. “Dry hair can also benefit from the use of jojoba, coconut, or ylang-ylang oils,” she said.

Essential oils can also be a great complement to a variety of massage therapies. DoTERRA offers a massage oil blend that is very safe to use, relaxes the muscles, increases circulation, and helps to detoxify muscles.

A Word of Caution
Though you don’t have to be an expert on essential oils to benefit from them, Sharon recommends taking basic precautions. If you have high blood pressure, are pregnant, or have any other medical condition, you should always seek the clearance of your medical practitioner first.

“Citrus oils are photosensitive, which means that the skin will darken if the oils are applied to skin that is subsequently exposed to sunlight,” Sharon said.  “Also, lemon oil, which very efficiently attacks foreign bodies, will destroy plastic (including styrofoam); therefore, if you add a drop of it to water, put the water in a glass, pottery, or stainless steel container.”

She also adds that people with sensitive skin should dilute essential oils with a good vegetable oil like jojoba or coconut oil, which has the same composition as sebum, or the oil produced by human skin.

From their ability to bring much-needed physical relief, like that experienced by Sharon, to their beauty-enhancing properties, essential oils truly are unique. “Essential oils are a vital part of a holistic approach to many common ailments,” Amanda said. “Many daily issues can be treated with the use of these oils.”

“The  Spa and Salon at Garden of the Gods Club is a quality environment whose clients seek quality. Therefore, DoTERRA is an excellent fit,” Sharon said.

The DoTERRA line will be on shelves at the Spa and Salon at Garden of the Gods Club by mid-September. If you have any questions about the essential oil line and how it might benefit you, please contact the Spa and Salon at Garden of the Gods Club at (719) 520-4988.

Have you ever benefited from an essential oil? Feel free to comment below.

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