Do you have a particular favourite when it comes to aromas? For example, do you love the smell of freshly baked bread? Do you love the fragrances of flowers like the rose and jasmine? If you answered yes to both these questions, here is another. Have you noted how these aromas make you feel?
People often underrate the impact that different aromas have in their lives. Often, you might not even register the manner in which a particular redolence influences you. Aromas have no personal significance, until they link up to a specific event.
When you come across an aroma initially, you begin forming nerve connections. Approximately 20 million nerve endings transmit appropriate signals to the brain. These impart emotions, based on your reaction, to the redolence. Thus, some aromas could remind you of pleasant memories and experiences. Others could make you think of food items that you love the most e.g. chocolates, freshly ground coffee beans etc.
Rachel Herz, a renowned expert on the psychology of smells, details this in her recent book titled, ‘The Scent of Desire’. Rachel discovered one day that she liked the smell of skunks. Trying to ascertain why, she came upon an experience that she had at the age of five.
It had been a pleasant summer afternoon – ideal for a car ride. The cicadas were singing and a warm breeze was blowing. Everyone was in a good mood. During the ride, an unfamiliar odour in the car, made Rachel’s mother remark that she liked the smell. Thus began an emotional association between a pleasant experience and the odour of a skunk. Years later, Rachel still loves the smell of skunks.
Today, experts agree that scents and fragrances can uplift your mood or reduce your levels of stress. They can even give a boost to your self-confidence and physical and cognitive performance.
Research even suggests that aromas can boost your performances in tests. Thus, if you were to study with an incense stick burning nearby, you could recall what you learned much faster if you kept a vial of the essential oil of that aroma with you while giving the test.
Aromatherapy – An Overview
Aromas influence lives in various ways. Using the steam function in a steam shower can help to relax the mind and detoxify the body. A steam shower with aromatherapy combines both these aspects. All you need to do is to use the essential oils, while having a steam session.
Essential oils are liquids obtained from the leaves, the stems, the barks or the roots of a plant and distilled with steam or water. Depending on the effects they produce, essential oils fall into various categories. Details of this are in the Infographic below with further summary information after this:-
The Main Types of Essential Oils Used in Aromatherapy
The main types of essential oils comprise:
Sedative Odours: Using sedative odours like Chamomile and Lavender, releases a hormone called serotonin. This hormone keeps you in high spirits. Chocolates contain serotonin as well. This explains why people recommend eating chocolates if you are depressed.
Euphoric Odours: These odours (like Grapefruit and Jasmine) stimulate the thalamus glands, thereby releasing enkephalin. This pain-killing hormone boosts your sense of well-being.
Aphrodisiacs: Aphrodisiacs like Ylang Ylang stimulate the pituitary gland and release endorphins in the body. Endorphins are responsible for arousing sexual feelings. They can also induce feelings of exhilaration and joy.
The Main Essential Oils Used in Aromatherapy and their Benefits
Shopping for essential oils in the market could leave you stumped. If you plan to purchase a few for testing the waters, consider using the following:
Eucalyptus – Use this anti-inflammatory oil for treating respiratory congestion.
Fragrance: Fresh, earthy and woody
Benefits: Provides relief from muscle tensions, coughs, colds and asthma
Geranium – This oil is ideal for antiseptic, diuretic and astringent purposes.
Fragrance: Floral, fruity and sweet
Benefits: This helps the mind relax from anxiety, stress and fatigue. It also helps to balance oily skin.
Lavender – You could use this essential oil as an antiseptic and antifungal agent.
Fragrance: Fresh, floral, slightly fruity and herbaceous
Benefits: Helps in relaxing tired muscles as well as in aiding the onset of sleep. It also boosts the immunity while providing relief from headaches and minor cuts and burns like insect bites and blemishes.
Lemon – This anti-depressant oil catalyses the healing process if you suffer from various infections.
Fragrance: Fresh, uplifting and relaxing
Benefits: Is ideal for treating wounds and infections and conditions like cold and flu. It also acts as an anti-depressant.
Peppermint – This antiviral essential oil is ideal for providing relief from digestive problems.
Benefits: Provides relief from headaches, muscle pains and various digestive ailments
Rosemary – You could use this antibacterial essential oil for obtaining pain relief. This oil also stimulates and improves your memory, confidence and creativity.
Fragrance: Fresh, herbaceous and sweet
Benefits: Provides relief from muscle aches and gout. It also enhances blood circulation and rejuvenates dull skin. It can also help you overcome fatigue.
Tea Tree – Use this antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal oil for faster recovery from infections.
Fragrance: Fresh, earthy and woody
Benefits: Boosts immunity level.
Ylang Ylang – Using this aphrodisiac helps relax the nerves as well as any sore muscles you might have.
Fragrance: Fresh, floral, sweet and slightly fruity
Benefits: Provides relief and relaxation from insomnia, hypertension, stress, anxiety and depression
How to Use Essential Oils in Your Daily Routine
Indulging in aromatherapy in a steam shower or whirlpool bath steam shower, was never easier. Immerse yourself in pleasant aromas in your:
Whirlpool Baths: Run the bath to a suitably warm temperature level. Identify the carrier (a neutral liquid like milk, which blends with the essential oil prior to using the bath). Blend the oil with the carrier and let it mix with the water, before you immerse yourself in it.
Steam Showers: Pour a few drops of the essential oil to the steam pod. Let the unit reach the desired temperature level. Then, enter the steam shower and take deep breaths. This will enable you to derive the optimal benefits from your aroma-filled steam shower session.
Compresses: Pour some drops of the essential oil into hot water. Soak a cloth in this water and then wrap the cloth around affected parts of the body. This will provide relief from bruises, muscular pains and skin problems.
You could even use aromatherapy during facial steaming. Add some drops of the essential oil to the heated water. Let the oil blend with the water. Thereafter, lean over the bowl and let the steam reach your face. A 15-20 minute session should be sufficient for completing the cleansing process. Thereafter, simply rinse your face with cold water to close the pores that opened during the steaming process.
You could also use essential oils:
- During massages and
- In diffusers that enable you to inhale the aroma
Other Benefits of Aromatherapy
By using your steam shower for aromatherapy regularly, you can obtain several additional benefits. Some of these are:
- Slowing down the signs of ageing
- Detoxifying the skin
- Cleansing the dirt from the skin by letting the heat from the steam shower open the pores
- Obtaining radiant and glowing skin
- Uplifting your mood
- Enhancing your general well-being
- Improving blood circulation
- Balancing the production of hormones
- Boosting the immune system
- Obtaining restful sleep
- Enhanced digestion levels
Noted author Helen Keller said, “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived”. Just using the standard steam function in a steam shower does have benefits. However, using aromatherapy in your steam showers adds a new dimension to your steam session experience. Imagine the sensation of heat as it cleanses your body, even as the aroma of the essential oils brings to mind pleasant memories and associations.
Several medicines heal the body and the mind, but produce various side effects. Aromatherapy, on the contrary, heals the body & the mind without any side effects. Instead, by rekindling pleasant memories, it creates an experience in the present that augurs well for your overall health and well-being.