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Essentially, A Good Thing

In 1928, Rene Maurice Gattefosse coined the term "aromatherapie" to describe the use of aromatic essential oils for therapeutic purposes. The word "aroma-therapy" (aroma from a Greek word meaning spice + therapy) literally means "Scent-treatment" or "treatment using scents". The scents or "aromas" in question come from"essential oils" - natural substances, extracted from plants, with amazing healing properties, and treatment is administered through various methods including inhalation, bathing, compresses, anointing, diffusion and massage. Essential oils work on the brain and nervous system through the skin and the olfactory nerves to improve health, and restore balance to the whole system.

Aromatherapy, then, is the art of using aromatic essential oils extracted from plants, to heal and to beneficially effect our wellbeing - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is a gentle, natural healing therapy with non-invasive, caring, techniques that can increase energy, reduce stress, relieve pain, alleviate fatigue, relax or invigorate, and help to balance body, mind, and spirit. And, as if that's not enough, it can help us care for the skin and hair, repel insects and create ambience - and, did I mention that the oils smell really good!
The pure essences of aromatic plants have long been prized for their healing properties. As long as 6,500 years ago, the ancient Chinese were extracting oils from plants with medicinal properties and offering them to their gods, as well as using them to preserve the bodies of the dead in preparation for the life beyond. Later, we find the Greeks and Romans using aromatic oils for baths and massage. About a thousand years ago, the essence of roses was successfully extracted in Arabia, which quickly became the centre of the world's perfume industry. In the 14th and 15th centuries, when Europe and Asia were ravaged by plague, western civilization turned to the medicinal properties of aromatic plants, burning their resins and oils to disinfect and as protection against infection.




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In the 1920s, a French chemist and perfumer, Rene Maurice Gattefosse burned his hands severely in an explosion in his laboratory. Gattefosse plunged his hands into the first liquid he saw - a bowl of lavender oil - and was pleasantly surprised to see that they healed very quickly without leaving any scar. Impressed, he began to explore the healing powers of essential oils. Aromatherapy was born...

Aromatherapy, as the name implies, works through the sense of smell to harmonize and balance body, mind and spirit. When essential oils are inhaled they access the body in two ways. First through the olfactory system, the aroma is converted into electrical impulses which trigger a reaction in the part of the brain affecting moods, emotions, alertness and concentration. Secondly minute particles of the essential oil with their naturally occurring chemical constituents enter the lungs and are circulated (with oxygen molecules) through the body. Thus the benefits are both psychological and physical.

The oils, in a diluted form, can also be massaged into the skin. The molecules of oil are absorbed into the skin through pores and hair follicles, then into the bloodstream, and from there to major organs and body systems. Body massage alone is very relaxing and can release physical tension, relieve pain, and promote circulation. Add the essential oil and you=re onto a real winner!

Various processes are used to extract the oils from the plant material. Steam distillation, and cold pressing are the most common methods. Each oil has a unique natural fragrance and properties which may alter body chemistry, improve moods and calm emotions or help alleviate a certain condition. Some of the most common oils are Bergamot, Chamomile, Juniper, Lemon, Lavender, Tea Tree and Ylang Ylang.

Aromatherapy is very versatile. Essential oils can be used for aphrodisiacs, bath and body treatments, mood enhancers, hygiene, insect repellents, room fresheners, skin care, and more.

  • *To enhance your sex life and open the mind to exotic possibilities, try a mutual massage with your partner. Use oils with warming qualities such as anise (beloved for its liquorice smell), cardamom, cinnamon and clove bud.
  • *To improve your mood, promote cheerfulness and relaxation, use Eucalyptus, Jasmine and/or Rosemary
  • *After a long, hard day try Lavender, Marjoram and Peppermint
  • *If someone needs sobering up, use Orange, Geranium and Fennel

The world of aromatherapy is a fascinating place, but it is not without it's pitfalls. Be careful how you choose your aromatherapy products. Not all of them are genuine. Buy only pure, good quality essential oils not cheap copies. And remember that aromatherapy is intended to complement traditional medicine, not to replace it.

By Sylvia Richards 10th April 2009

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.



© 2009 Sylvia Richards All rights reserved