Despite the phenomenal advancement in medical sciences, alternative medicine continues to be popular. Alarmed by the chemical side effects of allopathic medicines, people are gradually turning to alternative therapies for treatment. One such therapy that is becoming popular in India and the world over is Ayurvedic Aromatherapy.
A few days spent on a hill station gives one a feeling of rejuvenation or a walk amidst pine trees or eucalyptus enhances one’s mood. The scent of lavender makes one sleepy. Why does it happen? In fact, from here stems the basic principles of ayurvedic aromatherapy. Research in this field has shown that smell, the most strong of our senses, has a powerful influence on our mind. The scents of essential oils are believed to activate olfactory nerve cells in the nasal cavity that send impulses to the brain associated with emotions and memory.
The origin of this therapy dates back to almost 3000BC when plant essences were used not only for their aromatic and beauty care properties but also for their preservative and healing properties. The survival of the Egyptian mummies bears testimony to the extraordinary preservative powers of plant essences. One can trace the prevalence of aromatherapy in the Hindu tradition of performing pujas and havans as well. The burning of camphor in aarati enhances one’s mood. The use of sandalwood has a powerful influence on our body and mind.
Ayurveda considers the use of aroma as an important tool for prevention and healing. Practitioners use it for protecting the vital force, prana, regulating digestion and metabolism, agni, and increasing resistance to disease, ojas.
“Aromatherapy can cure emotional and hormonal disorders. Today Ayurveda practitioners use more than 40 different essential oils to cure headaches, high blood pressure, migraine, insomnia, fatigue and other stress-related problem,” says psycho aromatherapist Dr Minoo Ratan.
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used by directly applying to the skin or by inhaling the scents or even by adding the oils to the bath. Adding a few drops of essential oils to your bathtub creates a relaxing atmosphere and allows the oils to seep into skin pores. It is a known fact Cleopatra was known to add many different oils to her bath to preserve her beauty.
To prepare aromatherapy massage, simply add a few drops of essential oils to a small amount of unscented carrier oil such as sweet almond oil or safflower oil.
“Indian culture and traditions are deeply rooted in the ayurvedic belief. It is a vast science which uses only natural products from nature. Earlier people indulged in practices include fumigation by burning Neem leaves and it is still practised in the rural areas where there are fewer cases of dengue in comparison to the cities. The use of holy basil (Tulsi) or rose petals in water while bathing, and burning incense sticks during meditation, everything had a healing effect on the mind, body and soul,” says Blossom Kochhar an aromatherapy expert.
Blossom suggests some aromatherapy tips such as breathing intense aromas of essential oils can ease congestion due to colds, flu, chronic sinusitis or bronchitis. For this, fill a large bowl with steaming hot water, add a few drops of eucalyptus or pine oil and breathe in the fragrant fumes.
Juniperberry oil blended with eucalyptus oil can be used for reducing water retention in the body. It can also be used for reducing blood pressure. Cypress oil can be used for curing excessive bleeding after delivery, for problems of varicose veins and piles. Sandalwood incense sticks, when burnt during puja, offer a pleasant feeling to the mind. Sandalwood can also be used as a moisturizer as well as an antiseptic.
“Today, aromatherapy is being used all over the world. It can be a very useful addition to many treatment plans. It alleviates a person’s moods and enhances one’s overall health, beauty and psychological well-being as well. Even Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone took regular aromatherapy sessions for her depression problem and it healed her. Today she is a very confident performer,” she explains.