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Essential oils to relieve stress

Essential oils are widely used in spas and beauty salons, but do you know the benefits they offer you? They have more benefit than the usual aromatherapy. They work on your entire body from the inside to the outside.

Aromatherapy refers to the use of essential oil from plants to alter a person’s mood or health. This essential oil can be inhaled, rubbed onto the skin through massage, or used as a bath product.

Smell and emotion are closely linked. As scents are inhaled, the smell travels across the olfactory nerves located inside the nose and then up into the limbic system of the brain that controls our mood, our memories and our ability to learn.

When further stimulated, it releases endorphin and other feel-good chemicals. Smells draw out distinct memories and emotion, with sweet smell bringing about a feeling of peace and security.

Ultimately, essential oils offer numerous benefits to the body’s immune system and provide relief for minor discomforts. You don’t have to go to a spa or beauty salon to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy oils. You can use them at home as inhalers, room fresheners, bath or massage oil.

Relaxation and mood enhancement are amazing benefits of aromatherapy because a stress free body is healthy and beautiful. However, as useful as aromatherapy oils are, they can be harmful, and one needs to understand which oils are good for what, and how they should be used. Here are some of the popular essential oils used as mood enhancers and for stress relief.

Rosemary: Enhances mental and physical performance. Rosemary also helps with the level of cortisol, a hormone which helps the body respond to stress. However, rosemary is toxic to the nerves and should be avoided during pregnancy to protect the foetus from brain damage.

Lavender: According to research, when lavender’s scent is inhaled, it produces slight calming, soothing and sedative effect to the body, hence reduces stress. Lavender is used to promote deep sleep especially to people with sleep problems, and also to soothe babies to sleep.

Peppermint. It produces a cooling sensation when inhaled, chewed or rubbed on the skin. Peppermint increases memory and alertness, and works as a pick-me-up for various people including workaholics and students. It is also an ingredient in chest rubs and is used to treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as crumps, flatulence and nausea. The best way to administer it is though massage.

Vanilla: Most people find vanilla comfortable and relaxing. It is delicate and sweet smelling, and elicits a happy spirit when used. Vanilla’s enticing smell makes it a popular ingredient in beauty product such as perfumes, skin scrubs and lotions.

Though it smells good enough to eat, if taken incorrectly, it can desensitise the tongue and throat. One proper way to take it is to add a drop or two of vanilla to your tea or other hot drinks.

Caution

Essential oils used in aromatherapy are for the most part harmless, but can be toxic if used incorrectly. It is important to seek advice from a doctor before using them.

Do not swallow the oils or allow them to get into your eyes. Avoid applying the oil directly onto your skin if you have broken skin or any skin condition. Pregnant women should consult their doctor before using them, as some can induce labour. The author is a stylist at Iqbal Centre, Taveta Road

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