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 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.

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

Fast-forward to 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.

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.