The Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Sciences (2000) defines aromatherapy as an emerging art of healing through essential oil which has a therapeutic effect on body, mind, and soul. In other words is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being. Experts think aromatherapy activates areas in your nose called smell receptors, which send messages through your nervous system to your brain. The essential oils may activate certain areas of your brain, like your limbic system, which plays a role in your emotions.
One would think that aromatherapy has the ability to trigger your mood. If you think about yourself and the smells you like and dislike it is easy to assume that smells trigger your mood but research says that is far from the truth. Actually, how odors affect us is based on what is known as associative learning, which is linked to an individuals past experiences. Studies have shown that associative learning of odors can begin before birth. While in the mother’s womb, it is the flavor compounds from a mother’s diet via amniotic fluid that flows into the fetus. These early learned preferences can influence food and flavor preferences in later childhood and even adulthood.
Aromatherapy is generally safe. Essential oils can cause side effects, though. Some can irritate your eyes, skin, or mucous membranes in your nose. They can also cause mild allergic reactions. If you drink some essential oils they can hurt your kidneys or liver. It's rare that people take essential oils by mouth, and you shouldn't do it unless your doctor says it's okay. If you're new to aromatherapy, work with an aromatherapist or your doctor. And keep in mind that essential oils aren't regulated by the FDA, which means that unlike drugs, the agency doesn't check to see if they're safe or work the way they're supposed to.
Shower melts are another way to use aromatherapy to help build up your nasal and respiratory passageways during the fall and winter season especially during COVID-19. Shower melts are a way to create an aromatherapy spa at home just like a bath bomb can provide that aromatherapeutic essence in the bathtub. Definitely as the fall and winter season is coming up, using shower melts are a great way to help enhance one's breathing, opening up sinuses, loosening phlegm in chest, along with reducing chest. Again, this is only a way to help not a substitute to medicine and if you are sensitive to smells, please reach out to your physical physician or an aromatherapist.
One of the best Shower Melt recipes involves the essential oils Tea Tree and menthol crystals. Most essential oils when used in shower melts typically do not emit a strong enough smell in the shower but menthol crystals have a way of enhancing the smell for a stronger scent just like if you used Vick's Vapor rub.
Here are the following ingredients/measurements:
1 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup citric acid
1/2 cup kaolin clay
1/2 cup arrowroot powder
Witch Hazel in Spray bottle
1 tsp of Menthol crystals
1 tbsp of Olive oil
75 drops Tea Tree essential oil
75 drops Lavender essential oil
Mica Powder or Food Coloring
Safety: Make sure to use gloves along with a mask because the powders come up in the air while mixing!
It is best to use a metal bowl and strong whisk for mixing all ingredients. Before adding all ingredients from the top to the bottom, the menthol crystals needs to melt before mixing them with other ingredients.
Place menthol crystals in a glass or strong plastic container. Then add the tbsp of olive oil to the crystals. Place the the menthol container inside another glass bowl full of hot water so that the crystals can melt. It is best to use 2 glass containers if possible. Mix periodically until fully melted.
Now place all dry ingredients into the metal bowl in the order. Mix between each ingredient you add. This will ensure the dry mixture is consistent and mixed well together.
Once you have mixed all of the dry ingredients together then you want to add the witch hazel to the mixture. This will take some time to get use to but you want to spray the mixture and then mix immediately. The mixture will begin to fizz up due to the citric acid but you want the consistency of a wet sand but not soaking wet like how the water is at the beach right when the water flows over it and it is shiny. You want the mixture wet just enough so that if you pick it up in your hand, you can create a ball without it falling apart or melting in your hand.
Add the essential oils and melted menthol crystals and mix fully. Mix between each ingredient you add.
If you want to add color then you can use either food coloring or mica powder. If you use food coloring, add about 20 drops of food coloring to 1/4 of water and pour it in slowly and mix immediately to mix thoroughly.
Place mixture in the silicone mold and 48 hours or 24 hours in freezer. Make sure when you place in the mold that you press down on it to ensure the mixture gets into every crevice. Once completed and dry, put shower melts in an air tight container to save the scent.
Things to remember when using shower melts.
Shower melts dissolve very easy in the shower so you do not want to put them directly in the stream. The goal is to at least have the shower melt last a least one week. Find a place in your shower where you can wet it to activate the smell in combination with the steam. When you wet the shower melt, the scent will be emitted instantly; this is the best time to work on deep breathing exercises to open up your passageways. Remember the smell is not overwhelming and the scent doesn't stay in the air long which is why it is best to take advantage of the deep breathing exercises when it gets wet. You can purchase a soap shower holder to stick in the shower that will hold the shower melt. If you place the soap holder at the same level of your nose then you will smell the shower melt a lot faster and stronger.
There may be other essential oils you may want to use but to open up your nasal and respiratory passage ways, tea tree essential oil and menthol crystals will help you this season!