Aromatherapy has been used since ancient times as a natural healing aid, promoting emotional and physical well-being. Although not recognized as a legitimate branch of medicine in the U.S., aromatherapy is a holistic therapy practiced by many doctors and scientists overseas. It’s also incorporated into numerous spa treatments and beauty products.
Essential oils work in one of two ways: through absorption or inhalation, although there are also some benefits associated with aerial diffusion (room fragrancing) as well. Essential oils are extracted from different parts of plants depending on the oil. “You can extract oils from flowers, twigs, leaves, stalks, resins and even roots from everyday plants to more exotic ones,” says Kathy Phillips, founder of This Works, a line of aromatherapeutic bath, body and skin care. When choosing products for aromatherapy purposes, it’s important that they are made with essential oils, and that the oils are pure, natural and not synthetic. According to Charlene Florian Barker, vice president of corporate creative development for Kerstin Florian International, the key to deciphering if a product contains real essential oils (as opposed to synthetic ones) is to trust your nose. “If a smell sticks around, it’s not pure. Good essential oils dissipate very quickly,” she says.
Three to try:
Eucalyptus: Good for fighting a cold
With its powerful antiseptic properties, eucalyptus can help ward off an impending cold.
Lavender: Good for antibacterial purposes
One of the most versatile essential oils, lavender has antiseptic, antibiotic and antifungal properties.
Sandalwood: Good for calming the senses
Used since ancient times, sandalwood is known for its soothing and calming properties.