Aromatherapy can be described as an alternative healing method that uses the therapeutic or medicinal properties of the essential oils of particular plants and herbs. This ancient practice was first discovered in Egypt, China, Italy and India. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French Doctor and Chemist was later to rediscover the benefits of essential oils sometimes back in the 1920 after accidently burning his hand and managing to successfully treat it using lavender oil.
It was then that he came up with the word AROMATHERAPY in 1937 and numerous studies have continued to happen all over the world since then.
Aromatherapy is very popular in North America and Europe where it is being combined with other holistic treatments and used in the manufacture of spa treatments and products like candles, oils and other materials.
The essential oils used in Aromatherapy are therapeutic or have medicinal values and are derived or extracted from flowers, stems, fruits, skins, buds, branches and roots of plants. These oils are extracted through the following processes:
• Steam distillation
• Water distillation
Aromatherapy – How It Works
Aromatherapy and therapeutic oils in particular will affect almost every part or organ in the human body. Each and every essential oil has its own unique pharmaceutical effect on the human body. Some will have antibacterial properties, others will have anti-viral properties and others are tranquilizers, diuretics or dilators. Essential oils can either be inhaled or massaged to the skin to gain their benefits. When inhaled, the molecules will enter the nasal cavity stimulating the limbic system of the brain in the process. The limbic system is responsible for influencing our emotions and memories. It is also linked directly to the adrenals, pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. These parts of the body are responsible for regulating the heart rate, blood pressure, memory, stress, breathing and hormone balance. It is for this very reason that the effect of essential oils in bringing about emotional and physiological balance is almost immediate.
It is important to note that these oils can be toxic when taken internally and should there before be taken orally only in the presence of a fully qualified professional.
Aromatherapy can be used for the following health conditions:
• Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Blood pressure
• Hormone balance
• Regulate heart rate
• Muscle and joint pain
• Nervousness and restlessness
• Shingles (herpes zoster)
• Colds and flu
• Bruises and burns
• Poor digestion
• Ear ache
In Aromatherapy, essential oils can be used at home through inhalation and topical application. For respiratory conditions, steam inhalation is recommended. Where this happens to be the case, add 2-3 drops of eucalyptus, rosemary, or other essential oils to hot water after which the hot mixture is held over the face with a towel covering the face for total inhalation.