Aromatherapy is a branch of herbal medicine that uses the medicinal properties of the essential oils of plants and herbs. Aromatherapy is derived from the ancient practice of using natural plant essences to promote health and wellbeing. The use of plant essential oils dates back to the ancient times in Egypt, Italy, India, and China. Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It is an art and science which seeks to explore the physiological, psychological and spiritual realm of the individual’s response to aromatic extracts as well as to observe and enhance the individual’s innate healing process. Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to conditions involving stress or improving emotionally-related conditions. Aromatherapy is one of the fastest growing fields in alternative medicine.
Aromatherapy can be used for treatments from acne (Rosemary and Geranium) and other skin problems. Aromatherapy is widely used at home, clinics and hospitals for a variety of applications such as pain relief for women in labor pain, relieving pain caused by the side effects of the chemotherapy undergone by the cancer patients, and rehabilitation of cardiac patients. Aromatherapy has been traced back to the most ancient healing ceremonies, where patients were smoked to rid them of evil spirits. When using good quality essential oils correctly, the soothing combination of beautiful aromas, massage, aromatic baths and other treatments all work to regulate, balance, heal and maintain your entire being by working with nature, and not against it. Aromatherapy is relatively easy to practice at home as we now have almost unlimited access to oils, candles, bath oils, diffusers and burners on the high street.
Aromatherapy is already slowly getting into the mainstream. There are many candles and bath oils which claim to be ‘aromatherapy’; many of these contain synthetic oils, not essential oils, and may not be as beneficial. It is important to know something about how essential oils are extracted because oils from the same plant extracted in different ways can result in very different products. The two main ways to extract an essential oil from a plant are steam distillation and expression. Newer extraction methods such as supercritical CO2 extraction are also becoming more common. Aromatherapy oils can have side-effects nausea, headaches or an allergic reaction for instance. Always keep the oils in tightly-sealed containers stored in a cool dark place. Like all medicines, they should be kept out of the reach of children.