HEALTH+WELLNESS THE WONDERS OF AROMATHERAPY IF YOU’VE EVER WONDERED WHAT BODY-AND-MIND HEALTH SMELLS LIKE (HAVEN’T WE ALL AT SOME POINT?), IT CAN BEST BE DESCRIBED AS A HEADY COMBINATION OF FLORAL SCENTS AND SPICY AROMAS THAT COME TOGETHER IN THE ART AND PRACTICE OF AROMATHERAPY. Simply put, aromatherapy is a holistic treatment that utilises naturally extracted aromatic plant essences for the treatment of illness and disease, and mental health issues too. In fact, it is often used in spa treatments to help those in need to recharge and re-energise. The idea behind aromatherapy is that it addresses any imbalances within the body and mind, setting the patient back on the right track. BENEFITS According to practitioners, there are many benefits to aromatherapy. The first – and perhaps most useful of all since it links to so many other health issues – is that it reduces stress. It could be because it is usually combined with a relaxing massage, or at least asks that the patient is still and calm whilst the treatment is being performed, but whatever it is, studies have shown that blood pressure and feelings of anxiety are both greatly reduced after an aromatherapy session. Another benefit is that aromatherapy is understood to help with depression. Although it won’t cure it if you are clinically depressed, it will help to fight those feelings of fear and worthlessness that come with depression. If you are simply feeling down, aromatherapy should have you feeling yourself again in no time. Pain can be reduced when aromatherapy is used as well. Again, it could be down to the blissful state of relaxation that a good practitioner can put you in, or it might be the scents themselves – science isn’t entirely sure – but either way, it’s a good thing, and can help sufferers of chronic pain immensely. 124 THE SCENTS In aromatherapy, each different scent means and does something specific. Whether it’s anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, lack of energy or any number of other things, there will be a plant – and therefore a scent – that helps. There are hundreds of different aromatic oils and essences, but we’ve put together a list of the most frequently used to give you an idea of what they can do for you. Rosemary Rosemary is said to be good for improving mental performance since it stimulates the brain and helps aid concentration. Lemon If you ever have one of those days when your brain feels fuzzy and you can’t get anything done, you might want to smell some lemon essence. Lemon is used to clear the mind, allowing you to think clearly. Lavender Lavender is extremely popular, and has a couple of different uses. The first is that it uplifts and re- energises, so if you’re feeling low, lavender is the way to go. Secondly, it aids a restful nights’ sleep, with many people putting a few drops of lavender oil in their pillow before they drift off. Sandalwood Sandalwood is a calming scent and is used to induce a state of relaxation; it calms the nerves. Eucalyptus You’ve probably already used eucalyptus without realising you were practising aromatherapy – it’s ideal for clearing blocked sinuses. It can also help with headaches. Thyme Thyme is used to improve the memory and boost concentration.