Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils derived from plants for healing purposes.
Essential oils are natural and pure oils derived from the distillation of plants. The oils are named after the plant from which they are derived from. Examples of essential oils are lavender, eucalyptus and sandalwood. About 40 essential oils are used in Aromatherapy and they are categorized by their effect on the body and mind and the ailments they are most effective in healing.
The healing power of essential oils is the main facet of aromatherapy. It combines the soothing, healing touch of massage with the therapeutic properties of essential oils. Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment which can have a profound effect on the mind, body and emotions.
Aromatic essences are oily, fragrant substances which are fomulated in a variety of ways. Distillation is the most common process. This is basically the same process used to distill water. Tinctures and resinoid methods are also commonly used. These extracted oils can then be used straight or blended with other oils for their many therapeutic qualities.
Aromatherapy works in many ways, one of which is inhalation. By inhaling the essential oils directly into the bloodstream. Proponents believe that this is one of the quickest and best method of getting the aromatic smells into the system. Inhalation can be accomplished directly from the bottle or diffused by steam, heat, or evaporation. Adding drops into a bath is another excellent way of dispersion as well as massaging directly into the skin. However, this last method should be used with caution as most essential oils should only be used in diluted form.
Blending is the combining of essential oils to produce a more focussed therapeutic effect or a specific fragrance. There is no limit on how many essential oils that can be used in a blend. Many blends for therapeutic effect contain about 3 to 4 essential oils.
Essential oils blend harmoniously with essential oils in the same family like
• Labiatae - Lavender, Clary Sage, Marjoram
• Coniferae - Juniper
• Rutacea - Lemon, Orange, Bergamot
Anytime an oil or a blend is applied directly to the skin, a carrier oil is highly recommended to dilute the essential oil. Carrier oils like almond oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil and sunflower oil are rich in vitamins and minerals for the skin.
Research centered around aromatherapy shows that smell, the most acute of our senses, has a powerful influence on our bodies and minds. The scents from essential oils are believed to activate olfactory nerve cells in the nasal cavity, which then send impulses to the limbic system, the area of the brain associated with emotions and memory.
Proponents of aromatherapy believe that the aromatic oils work both emotionally and physically. Emotionally, they may make you feel better and more relaxed by evoking a pleasant memory. Physically, they may help to relieve certain conditions by stimulating the immune, circulatory, or nervous systems.
Aromatherapists stress that only pure, natural, unadulterated essential oils have true medicinal properties. Perfumes, shampoos, and bath oils scented with herbs may smell wonderful, but they are not designed to be therapeutic.
Advocates of aromatherapy believe on the preventive aspect to it. The balance generated from the inhalation of the aromas on the body and mind decreases the likelihood that disease will develop.