Aromatherapy is normally used through inhalation or as a topical application.
Inhalation: the oils evaporate into the air using a diffuser container, spray, or oil droplets, or breathed in, for example, in a steam bath.
Apart from providing a pleasant smell, aromatherapy oils can provide respiratory disinfection, decongestant, and psychological benefits.
Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, the part of the brain connected to smell, including the nose and the brain.
Molecules that enter the nose or mouth pass to the lungs, and from there, to other parts of the body.
As the molecules reach the brain, they affect limbic system, which is linked to the emotions, the heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance. In this way, essential oils can have a subtle, yet holistic effect on the body.
Topical applications: massage oils, and bath and skin care products are absorbed through the skin. Massaging the area where the oil is to be applied can boost circulation and increase absorption. Some argue that areas that are richer in sweat glands and hair follicles, such as the head or the palms of the hand, may absorb the oils more effectively.
Using essential oils in the form of aromatherapy is best and most effective both in my opinion and according to science. Our sense of smell is argued to be the most impressive of the senses because of its connection to a network of nerves within the brain called the limbic system.
The receptors in the nose are connected to the limbic system, which is why our sense of smell can trigger memories and emotions. When we smell something, the chemical components of the oil bind with the receptors in our nose, telling the brain, “This is lavender!”
Depending on the oil and its properties (and any past experiences you’ve had with the smell), the result is usually an emotional response and/or a memory. In most cases (since essential oils usually smell pleasant) this triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters, such as serotonin or dopamine.
Getting the brain to release these neurotransmitters is the primary effect of aromatherapy, helping keep our bodies in a healthy and happy state.
For many centuries essential oils were the only remedies for widespread diseases and conditions. During the dreaded Black Plague, very few became ill, who in fact were associated with perfumeries and glove industries where these oils were in profuse use. During the 19th century, with the development of modern science, all forms of herbal medicine disappeared until the 1920s, when French chemist Gatefosse revived the art, giving it the name Aromatherapy.
India was one of the few countries where the custom was never lost, Avurveda being the most ancient medical practice in the world today. Aromatherapy is now used in hospitals, offices, clinics and homes all over the world. Aromatherapy acts as a span between the new and old, most of the industries use these oils for various blends and concoctions, which contribute cure and relief for a number of complications.