Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that uses volatile liquid plant materials, known as essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being. By inhaling natural scents, like lavender or rose scent, affect a person’s mood and health. Aromatherapy is said to restore or enhance mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
The main branches of aromatherapy include home aromatherapy (self treatment, perfume and cosmetic use), clinical aromatherapy, and aromachology (the psychology of odors and their effects on the mind). Though aromatherapy has become increasingly popular in recent years, it is actually part of a tradition that began over two thousand years ago.
Aromatherapy – The Beginning
Aromatherapy has roots in antiquity where volatile plant oils, including essential oils were used. the practice of using essential oils taken from plants, flowers, roots, seeds, finally became “Aromatherapy”, a term coined by French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse in the 1920’s.
Aromatherapy refers to the use of essential oils extracted from herbs, trees and plants for therapeutic purposes. While many consider aromatherapy among the simple home remedies, it is in fact both a specific science and a deeply complex art. In addition, many unscrupulous companies are currently producing “aromatherapy” products using synthetic fragrances with no thought (and sometimes little knowledge) of current safety practices. Whilst it is wise to consult safety guidelines before using anyaromatherapy product, there is also a clear need for wider education in this area.
When seeking aromatherapy training, it is important for students to know the background and experience of the teacher. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the development of high standards of aromatherapy teaching and practice and is a good resource for ethical teachers and students. NAHA currently has in place Suggested Guidelines for Aromatherapy Education and Certification in an effort to provide guidance for students and teachers.
Not All Essential Oils Are Created Equal
Essential oils are the pure “essence” of a plant. They have been found to provide both psychological and physical benefits when used correctly and safely. Therapeutic-grade essential oils are unadulterated, highly effective essential oils. But only 2% of essential oils produced are therapeutic-grade. They are a plant’s life essence, and hence most valuable and expensive to distil. To select essential oils for health and wellbeing, only therapeutic-gradeessential oils should be considered.
Organic and wild harvested essential oils also tend to be more expensive. However, a word of caution is necessary. Many of the chemicals that occur naturally in essential oils are manufactured by the perfume industry and are used to adulterate essential oils. The reason for synthetic oils: They are cheap, and nobody can know the difference between the natural and the synthetic product unless extensive lab tests are conducted. Therefore, you must find a company you trust to buy your therapeutic-grade essential oils from. Perfume oils and fragrances contain unnatural chemicals and do not provide the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. It is important to note that perfume oils also known as fragrance oils or “fragrances” are not the same as essential oils.
Wellbeing Through The Life Essence Of A Plant
The term “aromatherapy” has been applied to such a wide range of products today that many are labelled “aromatherapy” products simply because they contain essential oils, although they may provide no therapeutic benefit. The benefit of inhaling a therapeutic-grade essential oils into the lungs is believed to offer both psychological and physical benefits. Not only does the aroma of the natural essential oil stimulate the brain to trigger a reaction, but the natural constituents (naturally occurring chemicals) of the essential oil are drawn into the lungs and can also supply physical benefit.
Combat Stress With Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a widely acknowledged, effective way to relieve stress, including work-related stress. A healthy working environment is essential, both for health and for job satisfaction. There are plenty of ways to relieve stress outside the office, but ways of managing stress in the work place are limited. Juggling work and home life can mean finding a balance between the two. Starting to manage stress at work, some employers offer in-house massage and Aromatherapy for a natural holistic approach to stress relief in the workplace.
In addition, certain scents at the workplace have shown to raise mental clarity and relieve stress. In a Japanese study, lemon essential oil in vapor form has been found to reduce stress in mice. The inhalation of certain aromatherapy oils such as lavender oil has been shown by research to have immediate natural stress-relieving effects. From combating stress, easing pain to alleviating tension headaches, aromatherapy is a relatively inexpensive, easy and enjoyable way to boost health. .
Aromatherapy is a caring, hands-on therapy which seeks to induce relaxation, to increase energy, to reduce the effects of stress and to restore lost balance to body, emotions and mind. Aromatherapy is often used to relieve stress, headaches, insomnia, tension and pain, and to aid relaxation and general wellbeing. Inhaling the appropriate fragrance can reduce stress, lift a depression, hasten a good night’s sleep, soothe your spirit, or give you more energy.
Aromatherapy is an ancient art that uses the concept of healing with aromatic substances. The practice has encompassed human pathology and the treatment of different conditions (emotional and physical) with essential oils. Nurses, doctors, massage therapists, osteopaths and trained aromatherapists are some of the people who practice aromatherapy.
But for the aromatherapy connoisseur like you and me, aromatherapy first of allfers pure enjoyment. Taking a whiff of a spice in the kitchen cabinet, or smelling a bouquet of flowers is fundamental aromatherapy. Washing the hands with the uplifting scent of germ-fighting essential oils, massaging precious oils into the skin, diffusing therapeutic-grade oils in the home, or simply wearing an essential oil as perfume are ways to benefit from the ancient but ever so new and popular art of aromatherapy.