Stop and smell the roses. University studies have shown that the right smell can significantly promote stress reduction and improve a person's mood. Essential oils used in aromatherapy can positively impact your health and well-being, but they must be used correctly.
Aromatherapy has become a powerful movement in the holistic health world, and this movement has much to offer people, especially as we get older.
The expression, "Stop and smell the roses," has a way of sounding hackneyed to our ears. However, there is much to be said about the role scent plays in our daily lives. Along with helping us appreciate the local flora and taste our food, it plays into our memories and emotions. This idea gave rise to the tradition of aromatherapy, which many people still value today.
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy finds its roots in ancient times, where civilizations like ancient India, China, Egypt, and Greece used fragrant plants and perfumes for both religious and medicinal purposes.
In recent years, diffusing pleasantly scented essential oils has become popular in the world of holistic medicine because of its numerous benefits. The benefits of aromatherapy for seniors are especially noteworthy.
How Aromatherapy Benefits Older Adults
Proponents of aromatherapy often cite it as a way of helping reduce stress and anxiety in people of all ages. That's especially true if you use scents that specifically target anxiety, such as:
- Clary sage
Anxiety and depression rates often run higher in seniors, especially those in isolation or suffering from dementia, so these oils have much to offer older adults.
A side effect of heightened anxiety is increased rates of insomnia. This partly explains the fact that insomnia rates are as high as 48 percent among seniors, according to one 2018 study. Fortunately, the relaxing nature of essential oils also makes them an effective sleep aid. Lavender, in particular, is great for sleep.
Bolsters Immune System
Another often unrecognized side-effect of anxiety is a hampered immune system. When we experience that kind of stress, our body produces the hormone cortisol. Along with contributing to fight-or-flight reflexes, this hormone suppresses several body functions, including functions in the immune system. Given older adults' susceptibility to illness, this is no small matter.
By relaxing the body and mind, aromatherapy can help decrease cortisol to guard immune system functions.
Incorporating aromatherapy into a senior's life is as simple as investing in quality essential oils and finding ways to enjoy them in your daily life. A few options include:
- Diffusing oils into the air.
- Applying oils to the wrists or temples.
- Adding essential oils to a warm bath.
- Incorporating oils into lotions or balms.
Additionally, you can incorporate the healthful benefits of gardening by starting an aromatherapy garden. Then, if you invest in home ethanol extraction equipment, you'll be able to extract your own essential oils that you can "stop and smell" throughout the day.
Be Careful – Oils Can be Potent
Pure essential oils are potent; diluting them is necessary for safe use. Diluting will make it safer, however, be careful, as a small number of people have allergic reactions or irritations to some essential oils. If you or a loved one have atopic dermatitis or a history of allergic reactions to topical products, you want to be especially careful.
Medical experts suggest avoiding ingesting essential oils unless directed by a trained herbalist. Because the oils are so potent, ingesting them could be harmful to some people.
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