Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts also known as "essential oils" to promote health and well-being. Aromatherapy can be administered through inhalation of these essential oils or by topical application onto the skin. When essential oils are inhaled through the nose, the aromatic molecules stimulate the olfactory system, which is the part of the brain connected to smell. This stimulation sends messages through your nervous system, and as a result, your psychological state changes. You feel happier, more calm and stress-free. When essential oils are applied topically on the skin, be it via a full body massage or a simple chest rub, you will soon realise that all your pains and aches suddenly start to fade away. With the right techniques, your body will thank you for taking away common ailments like coughs, cramps, aches and flu.

Here comes the big question: How does aromatherapy actually improve my life?

A bottle of essential oil alone can't do anything unless you use them together with a machine or you blend them in a carrier. Here are some ways aromatherapy oils can help with improving your life.

for relaxation and comfort

Herbs and flowers were known to be first used for their medicinal properties in Europe, where they would be used in massages, spa water and eventually perfume to reduce emotional tension and stress. Its compelling deep, floral scent makes those in its vicinity fall at ease in an instant. To achieve a realm of peace and tranquility, these herbs and flowers are infused in a warm pool of water, with a few drops of floral essential oils such as Rose, Jasmine and Lavender, allowing the scents to rise into the atmosphere and descend a blanket of comfort to anyone who takes a whiff.

to relieve body aches and pains

To relieve physical tension in the body, try creating an aromatic bath by adding 4 – 8 drops of essential oils into bath water and mixing it in. For a more targeted approach, add 6 drops of essential oil to 500ml of hot water, soak a small towel in the water, wring it dry and place it over the area of concern to relax muscles. Muscle aches can also be reduced by a good oil massage; to make your own massage oil, dilute your essential oil by mixing it with carrier oil at a concentration of 0.5% - 3% essential oil. Ginger is an excellent essential oil to use for relieving pains as it stimulates blood circulation.

for improving emotions

The restorative benefits of frankincense, eucalyptus, peppermint, rosemary and lavender make them good options for healing physical distress.

In the 1920s, Italian doctors Gatti and Cajola demonstrated that the psychotherapeutic effects of smelling essential oils are perceptible by humans, and concluded that smell has, by reflex action, an enormous influence on the function of the central nervous system. They found that the sense of smell is linked to the limbic system, which is associated with moods and emotions.

While it is true that the pleasantness of a scent depends highly on the individual, certain scents are known to trigger a particular therapeutic response more so than others. Popular mentally-calming essential oils include lavender, bergamot, frankincense, sandalwood and geranium.

and to calm troubled minds

A weary mind plagued by worries or insomnia is best soothed by the vaporisation and/or inhalation of essential oils. To vaporise a scent, fill a candle or electric burner with water and add 5 – 15 drops of essential oils. Alternatively, use an electric or steam diffuser to vaporise the essential oils using the same dosage. You may want to consider getting a water mist diffuser to run during the night. Not only does this machine give of a pleasant scent while you are tucking yourself to bed, it also helps to humidify the room, making the room less dry.