I’ve been interested in essential oils lately, since someone gifted my mom with a Young Living kit last Christmas. I love the soothing scent of lavender and peppermint, and the fresh scent of lemon and citrus.
Aromatherapy is the art of using essential oils to improve one’s mind, body, and overall well-being. Alternatively called “essential oil therapy,” it is considered as a form of holistic healing treatment, or as a complementary therapy to conventional medicines. Those who specialize in the practice of aromatherapy are often referred to as “aromatherapists.”
Why Practice Aromatherapy?
Those who practice aromatherapy attest to its benefits, such as helping relieve pain, fighting against infection, boosting immunity, improving digestion, improving sleep quality, and reducing anxiety, among other benefits. Hence, it is not surprising that the practice is becoming more and more popular around the world.
Brief History of Aromatherapy
The term “aromatherapy” first appeared in print in 1937, when French perfumer and chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé published a book about essential oils. His book, “Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales,” was eventually translated and published in English in 1993, with the title “Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy.”
Prior to these publications, however, aromatherapy has actually been practiced for thousands of years. The Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Indians of ancient times used essential oils for therapeutic, cosmetic, and even spiritual purposes.
Aromatherapy in the Philippines
Here in the Philippine, aromatherapy has been gaining popularity as well. In fact, some essential oils are extracted from plants that grow abundantly in the country: calamansi, citronella, ginger, lemon grass, malunggay, pili, sambong, sampaguita, and ylang-ylang. Oil from these plants are typically used for topical application, inhalation, massages, and baths.
Benefits of Essential Oils
What exactly are the benefits of using essential oils? Here are a few common examples:
Eucalyptus Oil. This is known to help with breathing and clearing a person’s chest, particularly in cases of dry cough. It is also useful for disinfecting wounds, controlling blood sugar, and keeping insects away.
Peppermint Oil. When applied topically, peppermint oil has been known to help relieve muscle aches, headaches, and itching. It has also been used as a dietary supplement for addressing irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems.
Rosemary Oil. This essential oil is known to help relieve pain, reduce joint inflammation, and increase circulation. Rosemary oil can also stimulate hair growth and repel certain insects, making it very useful, indeed!
Tea Tree Oil. Extracted from the leaves of the Australian tea tree, this oil is reported to have antibacterial properties. It has been used in treating acne, athlete’s foot, insect bites, and even head lice.
Citronella Oil. Similar to eucalyptus and rosemary oils, citronella can be used as an insect repellent. Its strong yet pleasant smell is good for relaxing a lifting a person’s mood, and the oil has also been used in perfumes.
Dangers of Using Essential Oils
Generally, most essential oils are safe to use. However, certain precautions must be taken, especially if the person is pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking prescription medicines. In such cases, consult a doctor before using essential oils.
In addition, essential oils should not be applied directly to the skin. These must be diluted in a “carrier” oil first. It is always a good idea to do a “skin patch test” before using essential oils topically, as a massage oil, or for inhalation.
When used incorrectly, essential oils may cause some side effects, such as skin irritation, rashes, headaches, nausea, and asthma attacks.
Popular Essential Oil Brands
Two of the most popular essential oil brands today are doTERRA and Young Living. Both of these are based in the United States, and have recently started operating in the Philippines.
doTERRA. Established in 2008 by a group led by David Stirling, doTERRA is based in Utah, with operations in several dozen countries. Among its popular products are lavender, lemon, and peppermint oil. The brand was officially launched in the Philippines last November 2019.
Young Living. Also based in Utah, Young Living was founded in 1993 by Donald Gary Young. It has offices in Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan, and Singapore, along with farms all over the world. Last July 2019, the company partnered with Kalipay Coconut Farm in the Philippines. Its product line includes eucalyptus oil, ginger oil, and tea tree oil, among others.
Local brands that I’ve tried are Human Nature and Organic Blendz.
As more and more Filipinos are discovering the benefits of essential oils, the aromatherapy industry in the country is bound to expand and thrive. Given the rich, natural resources of the Philippines, we can also expect to see more locally-produced essential oils — which means more job opportunities for Pinoys and continuous growth of the local economy.