We always seem to be fighting in life. Fighting to juggle schedules, maintain balances and satisfy everyone. And as we are always in constant battle, we tend to neglect the wear and tear we place on our bodies and minds. We know better, do not we?
If we did not, there's always a new health guru or medicinal practiceer trying to sell the “next best thing.” This will give you more energy. That will make you lose weight fast. This will cure your ailments. That will curb your anxiety and give you peace of mind. But six months later, the class action laws start rolling in. We even know the ads by heart:
“If you've taken product X and have suffered from a heart attack, stroke or other serious illness, you may be entitled to compensation.
With all these complications in modern medicine, why not consider more natural approaches to heal our bodies and minds?
Aromatherapy is an amazing option. It has been used since ancient times. In fact, Egyptians explain its benefits in the Ebers Papyrus (1600 BC), Hindus mention it in the Vedas (1500 BC), and Christians discussed it several times in the Bible. And, I'm sure, there have not been any legal proceedings against aromatherapy yet!
What is aromatherapy?
Before diving into the definition, let's consider its etymology. The term 'aromatherapy' comes from the French word 'aromatherapie' which was derived from 'aroma' and 'therapy.' Both of these root words have Greek and Latin origins.
The exact origin of the Greek word 'aroma' is unknown; but it referred to “seasoning, spice, sweet spice, or sweet herb.” The Latin word 'aroma' from the Greek word first appeared during the early thirteenth century and meant “sweet odor.”
The Greek word 'therapuin' referred to “treat medically, cure or attend to medically.” Its derivation 'theraphy' meaning “curing or healing” is the parent to the modern Latin 'therapy,' recorded around the late eighth century. This Latin word translated to “medical treatment of disease” and became what we know now as 'therapy.'
With its etymology, we can hazard to say aromatherapy is the medical treatment of disease using sweet odors. And we would be correct for the most part. But let's use a more formal definition.
Encyclopedia Britannica has a great one. It defines aromatherapy as the therapy which uses essential oils taken from plant materials to support physical, emotional and spiritual health and balance. The plant materials could be the plant's fruits, flowers, leaves, stems, bark, resins and even roots. When squeezed or heated and distilled, the resultant oil is the most pure, concentrated extract of fragrant chemicals in the plant; in other words, its essence or essential oil.
For aromatherapy, essential oils may be introduced to the body in different ways: by inhaling, adding to massage oil and adding to bath water. How exactly essential oils achieve their amazing effects is not yet fully understood; but, if the practice of using them survived for thousands of years, it certainly is worth a try!
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