Aromatherapy is a form of traditional medicine that uses essential oils to improve health and well being. While oils have been used for a very long time, the term “aromatherapy” was coined in 1937 by a French chemist who observed his burn healed quickly after he had immersed his hands into lavender essential oil. He experimented with different essential oils in his research on soldiers in the first world war. His work can be found in his book Aromathérapie. Les Huiles essentielles, hormones végétales (Aromatherapy. Essential Oils, Plant-Based Hormones.)
This therapy harnesses the healing properties of plants and herbs. For example, lavender is said to help in reducing stress (and keeping moths away!), chamomile can help with depression, and cinnamon can relieve drowsiness and irritability.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated essence of plants. They have been used for thousands of years for their therapeutic actions. The oils are protective for the plants and their properties can benefit humans and animals in an impressive variety of ways.
While many companies label their oils “therapeutic”, there is no regulating body. It is however important to use only natural essential oils, preferably from organic sources. The labels “pure” and “natural” are also not regulated so research the company for integrity. Skip anything that uses the word “fragrance” as these are artificial and can be toxic. Look for essential oils that are free of fillers, pesticides, and synthetic chemicals that are stored in a cool dry place.
Another way to decide which essential oils and hydrosols to use is to muscle test them. Find ones that raise your vibrational levels. For a variety of reason, some may be lower vibrationally even if they smell wonderful.
Different methods exist to produce essential oils. The most common for extraction of these oils from plant roots, leaves, stems, flowers, and bark is steam distillation. A by-product of this process is hydrosols, which are the water-soluble aromatic compounds in some plants. Also called “flower waters”, they are similar to essential oils, in a less concentrated form. For citrus fruits, the oils can easily be pressed out from their peels.
Aromatherapy is a therapy in its own right and therapists who make and use oils to help themselves and others heal using essential essences are called Aromatherapists. However, other healing modalities may also avail themselves of these essences such as massage therapists, chiropractors, nurses, and doctors.