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Aromatherapy - A Brief Overview

Aromatherapy is the art and science of using essential oils extracted from plants, to heal and promote physical, emotional and psychological well being.

The claim of aromatherapy is that pure essential oils, the "essence" of a plant, when properly used will provide both psychological and physical benefits.

Note that the statement says "pure" and "essential". There are all kinds of other fragrant substances on the market, which are useful in other areas. Some are authentic herbal oils, which are very valuable when used for their intended purpose (which is not aromatherapy). Some are synthetic, man - made copies of essential oils, which are sometimes passed off as the real thing. These will certainly provide a nice scent, but many contain synthetic chemicals, and none of them will produce the beneficial results of genuine essential oils because their molecular structure is not the same.

Notice also, the phrase "when properly used". Practitioners in any healing system must know the tools of their trade. They must know each medicinal or healing product inside out - it's components, what it does, how it works, how much to use, how best to apply it, how it will react with other substances, contra indications, interactions ... and lots of other information. All this applies to essential oils - the "tools" of aromatherapy. This takes training. You can't go just picking any oil off the shelf and expecting it to cure your insomnia or make your skin soft. It would be like going into a pharmacy and picking up (for example) a haemorrhoid cream to whiten your teeth! This is the "science bit". Aromatherapy treatments can be "tailor made" for specific persons or conditions by blending essential oils together to provide a certain therapeutic action. Blending oils in proper proportions creates a synergy, which is considered to be more effective than using each oil alone. This is where the 'art' bit comes in.




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There are over 150 essential oils being commonly used in aromatherapy, which also utilizes absolutes, CO2s and hydrosols. CO2s and absolutes are often included as part of the term "essential oil". Essential oils access the body through the nose or the lungs when we inhale the fragrance, or through the skin when applied topically - usually diluted in carrier oil, as most are too powerful and concentrated to be applied directly to the skin. Western aromatherapy does not recommend taking essential oils internally, as many are poisonous. When the aroma is inhaled, it is converted into electrical impulses and transmitted to the limbic system in the brain, which triggers a response. Minute molecules of inhaled essential oils pass through the respiratory system and into the lungs from whence they are circulated through the body via the bloodstream, attached to oxygen molecules. Inside the cells, they activate the body's healing response and their naturally occurring chemicals provide physical benefits, When applied to the skin essential oils are absorbed and enter the bloodstream through the capillary system.

Typically, a consultation starts with a medical history and questions about diet and lifestyle. Sometimes, before your essential oils are blended, you may be asked to sniff a sample of the proposed blend to ensure that you like the fragrance - which means you're more likely to use and accept it. Then, the proper essential oils are blended in a "carrier oil". You will be given clear instructions upon its use - how much to use, basic massage techniques; how to use as an inhalant etc.

Essential oils have much to offer. They are powerful gifts of nature, which must be treated with respect. Use them wisely and they will reward you with both physical and psychological benefits including health, hygiene, mental benefits, emotional stability, and beauty treatments.

By Sylvia Richards: 10/April/2009



© 2009 Sylvia Richards All rights reserved.


This site is being updated often with new information to share all the time. Stay as long as you want, and come back often!

NOTE: The writer is not a medical professional. The information in this article and on the Spiritual Haven web site is NOT medical advice. Consult a trained doctor or aromatherapist before attempting any treatment. We are not responsible for any misuse of information posted on this site.