Scents and smells have a powerful effect on our minds. The smell of freshly mown grass might take you back to childhood summers, or cookies in the oven might remind you of the holidays. Our sense of smell is closely linked with the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory, emotion, and more, and it is this connection that aromatherapy targets to promote holistic wellness. The practice of aromatherapy dates back at least 6,000 years to ancient civilizations such as the Egypt, China, and Greece. Today, aromatherapy is used to promote wellness for a number of conditions, such as anxiety, pain, and sleeplessness.
Aromatherapy uses aromatic substances known as essential oils, which are derived from plants like flowers, grasses, fruits, and tree bark and are highly concentrated, and applying undiluted oils directly to the skin can cause irritation, allergic reaction, or increased sensitivity. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using essential oils and exercise caution when applying them.
Here are five of our favorite essential oils:
Lavender essential oil is a holistic jackpot of benefits. For those just starting their aromatherapy journey, this is a great option. Lavender essential oil has long been recognized for its ability to soothe and relax, which is why it’s a perfect sleep aid for seniors suffering from insomnia. It also uses an easy application processes. Simply have 1-3 drops applied to clothing, bed linens or a cotton ball at bedside. Additionally, lavender essential oil also has pain relieving properties. When mixed with an unscented lotion or plain massage oil and applied to the skin, it relaxes and soothes your muscles.
Rosemary essential oil improves concentration. It’s often used to awaken the brain, resulting in improved alertness and overall function. In fact, numerous studies show participants exposed to rosemary aromatherapy performed better on cognitive tests. Other benefits of rosemary essential oil are it reduces sleepiness, keeping you alert but relaxed. A great way to experience rosemary essential oil is by placing one to three drops on clothing, linens or at your bedside on a cotton ball.
If you are encountering anxious or fearful emotions that you can’t shake, try using geranium essential oil. Geranium essential oil is commonly used for its ability to stabilize moods and calm anxiety. Many have described its aroma as a floral scent similar to roses. Try using one to three drops put on your bed linens or clothing for a calming effect throughout the day.
Bergamot is a plant that produces a type of citrus fruit, and therefore yields a a citrus-like fragrance with distinctive spicy and floral notes. If you are dealing with unwanted weight loss or a lack of desire to eat, bergamot essential oil therapy could help by stimulating your appetite. When using bergamot essential oil, it’s important to remember that it reacts strongly with sunlight and can cause severe sunburn. Exercise caution, apply only one to three drops to clothing or linens, and never apply directly to the skin.
If you find yourself hitting the mid-morning wall, try lemon aromatherapy. It’s a great way to combat the feeling of lethargy. With its bright citrus scent, lemon essential oils create a revitalizing and uplifting effect on your mind and body. It’ a wonderful alternative to strong stimulants such as coffee or medications. To experience the full benefits, place it on textiles like clothing or cushions and let the scent lift your energy levels whenever you need a boost.
Remember, essential oils are very powerful both in their effects and their concentration. Putting them directly on the skin without proper dilution is not recommended and may cause a severe reaction. Your best option to prevent any ill effects is to consult with trained healthcare professionals or aromatherapists before using any essential oils, and apply them only according to their recommendations.
When it comes to holistic care options for seniors, consider essential oil aromatherapy. Our essential oils program at Vista Springs is designed to help our community members live a full of life experience. To learn more about Vista Springs' holistic, energetic approach to assisted living, download our free eBook below.