Have you ever caught a whiff of a certain scent and been instantly transported back to a certain memory, or noticed a change in your mood? Yes, scent is a powerful tool, which I discovered when I first dived into the world of aromatherapy. "I can't see how a few drops of oil can make a difference," my dear Patrick Riley had quipped when I first bought home my set of essential oils. Well, let's just say he doesn't say that anymore. Aromatherapy, my dear readers, has the tremendous power to provide a physiological and psychological boost to your wellbeing, specifically the immune system.
So, what is this magic we're speaking about? Essential oils are the base of aromatherapy. They're derived from natural materials, such as flowers, leaves, or wood, and are known for their powerful compounds. Imagine this - when you peel an orange, the fragrant spritz that fills the air is actually a form of essential oil. Now, although it smells divine, it's so much more than a simple fragrance. Back in the day, our ancestors discovered the potential of these plant extracts in healing wounds, calming nerves, and boosting immunity. Today, modern medicine validates their findings, though it still remains a largely untapped potential.
Essential oils, when inhaled or applied topically (with a carrier oil always), interacts with our bodies in several ways. Some oils trigger our olfactory system - the part responsible for our sense of smell. This, in turn, sends signals to our brain's limbic system, the area responsible for emotions and memories. Other oils, when absorbed through the skin, can interact directly with our body's cells. Fascinating, right?
Let's now delve into the relationship between aromatherapy and the immune system. Essential oils contain numerous chemicals - and before you flinch, remember, not all chemicals are bad. Many of these, such as phenols, aldehydes, and terpenes, have potent antimicrobial properties. They help fight the harmful pathogens (germs and viruses) that invade our bodies. So, during cold and flu season or amidst a pandemic- and let's not speak the controversial 'C' word here- aromatherapy can complement your immune system's efforts wonderfully.
Lavender oil, for example, is known for its calming effects. But did you know it also has immunostimulant properties, helping your immune system fight against disease? Then there's eucalyptus oil, a favorite during flu season for its decongestant effects. My son, Dalton, absolutely loves the refreshing scent when I add it to our diffuser.
Okay, Eliza, you've convinced me! I hear you. So, how can we actually use aromatherapy for boosting our immune system? Great question! Firstly, it's important to always use pure essential oils from reliable sources. Always dilute them with a carrier oil before applying to skin, or use a diffuser for inhalation.
The teas that I brew with lemon, ginger, and honey essences, for example, have become a staple in our household. Another favorite is my lavender-scented body oil that I DIY. It leaves me relaxed, makes my skin glow, and boosts my immunity too!
Also, remember, just as different oils have different properties, they might react differently with each one of us. Always do a patch test before using a new oil. And obviously don't ingest them unless instructed by a healthcare professional.
While aromatherapy may seem so simple and natural, and while it does hold immense potential for strengthening your everyday immune response, do remember that it's not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle or medical treatment. Trust me, no amount of essential oil is going to create miracles if you're subsisting on a diet of potato chips and cola (I'm looking at you, retired rugby players).
It's not just about reaching for the oils when you're ill either. Incorporate them in your everyday life, much like clean eating or a good night's sleep. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead, unlock the potential duo of aromatherapy and your immune system, and embrace a healthier way of life!