Aromatherapy- The Basics
Aromatherapy - a word often associated with calm, sweet smelling and relaxing surroundings. Made famous for its mostly relaxing indulgent feature, using aromatherapy has also been known to be related to have medicinal qualities.
The basis of aromatherapy is in its use of naturally garnered essential oils. These oils are usually extracted from plant material and other compounds. The flower-based oils are usually for strongly aromatic users while the other sources of oils are mainly used for medicinal purposes. These oils are primarily extracted from flowers or delicate plant tissues which are already known for their various attributes.
Surprisingly even in the culinary field, such elements are
now becoming popular, especially among those with a more discerning palate. Though it should be noted here that such elements have long been used over time as a more traditional source of nutrition and even flavor.
Sometimes divided into three distinctive areas of uses, aromatherapy has proven an effective solution to many problems. Aerial diffusion falls in the category for environmental fragrancing or disinfection.
Direct inhalation is encouraged to arrest various respiratory problems like respiratory disinfection, congestion, tightness in the chest cavity and many others. Topical applications are mainly for relaxing purposes such as massages, baths, compresses and therapeutic skin care treatments.
Theoretically aromatherapy has been encouraged to be looked upon as an alternative to more invasive type of treatments. Besides being much more pleasant as a treatment option it can sometimes even be touted as a prevention element to certain diseases.
At worst it can play a major role in relaxing the general state of an individual and perhaps contribute in some way to the more successful percentage of recovery when combined with other more scientifically accepted methods of treatment.
Today there are many avenues of treatment to explore before embarking on a type suitable for the individual. However, it must always be noted that before making a choice, one must always try to be as well informed as possible.
The importance of understanding a topic, idea, or element is often overlooked in this busy world of today. To make matters worse it is often difficult to find the time to extensively explore topics. However, with the use of various modern tools, this task can be not only fun but very informative too.
Digging A Little Deeper
Most people today understand aromatherapy as just another indulgent exercise the privileged few enjoy. However, upon taking the time to delve deeper, one is likely to find a whole new prospect relating to the very diverse uses of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy can be explored as an alternative to more invasive methods of treatments. Originating long before medical science made discoveries and break-throughs; aromatherapy has had many success stories to back its many wondrous attributes. The concept of using aromatherapy to treat wounds and burns first came about when a scientist badly burned his hand while conducting an experiment and later it was used again successfully, as an antiseptic to treat the wounded soldiers during world war two.
Being the basis of natural materials, aromatherapy is less dangerous a method to choose from, when deciding on the best suited treatment for various illnesses. In theory aromatherapy is a treatment that may or may not help in the prevention of diseases by the use of essential oils. When coupled with the more conventional methods of treatments it has been found to produce impressive results, mainly contributing as a calming ingredient to the equation.
Aromatherapy can have a positive impact on the limbic system through the olfactory system. It has also been known to have direct pharmacologic effects. There have been studies done to prove the connection between the direct impacts of use between aromatherapy coupled with other scientific methods, however to date no conclusive data has been forth coming.
Some consider aromatherapy as a new age alternative style of treatment, while yet others know of its origins that date back a long while. Indulging in aromatherapy is a choice that should only be made after understanding the various aspects of this field. This is most important when choosing aromatherapy as an alternative to medical treatments when trying to arrest, cure or prevent diseases.
What to Think AboutThe general perception of aromatherapy is, getting the scent of an essential oil to infuse itself into the atmosphere to create a pleasing and relaxing state of body and mind. To others is may be perceived as a relaxing massage session with the use of beneficial essential oils.
Using aromatherapy as a skin care regimen is also very popular. Many of the essential oils used have proven qualities that can contribute to the various needs addressed in skin care lines.
These requirements can range from wanting to keep the skin looking young and supple to reversing the aging effects on the skin. Some forms of eczema and acne have been successfully arrested with the use of the aromatherapy method.
Aromatherapy is also an excellent way recommended to get oneself into a meditative state. These meditative states are usually associated with yoga, tai chi, visualization or self-hypnosis.
Trying various oils before deciding on the one that best allows you to reach the required level of mediation is sometimes needed. Besides this some research has shown that using aromatherapy can help create the mood for various scenarios with specific results in mind.
Though there is lack of conclusive evidence to show aromatherapy can be instrumental in treating certain diseases, the fact remains that many people turn to this alternative based on other success stories.
Traditionally linked to the successful treatment of emotional and physical ailments there is proven success because aromatherapy is a natural method that helps the body cope with stress, anxiety and tension which are all contributing factors or causes of other illnesses and diseases.
Using Aromatherapy Effectively
Aromatherapy has become very popular today. Though it is still mostly linked to idea of a relaxingly therapeutic massage session, newer uses are now being explored.
In ancient times aromatherapy was used for almost everything from relaxing to health solutions and even for culinary preparations. A lot needs to be understood before
embarking on the journey of aromatherapy.
What You Need to KnowIf one is thinking of setting up an aromatherapy center or even considering the use of aromatherapy to treat a certain medical condition, the buying of the essential oils is a crucial aspect to consider.
Most essential oils today are so commercialized that it may not always be as genuine as stated on the labels. Careful examination of the label contents needs to be checked and rechecked before a purchase is made.
Some labels can be quite deceiving in their purported capabilities. The condition and type of packing of the essential oils is also a very important feature that should be considered. Ideally there should not be any cracks or broken seals as this will contribute to the contamination of the purity levels of the oils.
Besides all this, the other important fact to consider is getting the best results through the method and choice of essential oils. Meaning some essential oil work better when used the correct way and the best results are assured if the recommended way is not taken for granted but adhered to carefully.
The method of inhalation is used to treat certain ailments like sinuses, headaches, colds, chest congestions and other similar conditions. This method is far more effective and quicker than taking oral or direct application on the skin.
Spraying a mixture of essential oils and distilled water is another method used to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere. This method has proved to be beneficial when treating anxiety, depression, stress and other pressurizing conditions.
Some conditions call for direct applications. However as most aromatherapy massage session are performed with direct skin contact, the concentration of the essential oils needs to be considered before commencing. Reason being that these essential oils could cause an allergic reaction to the individual.
History and Tradition of Aromatherapy
Essential oil, the concentrated aromatic essence extracted from a plant, could be called the plant's psyche, or its personality plus physicality. Essential oil is sometimes called the 'soul' of an aromatic plant. This life-force substance is commonly more thin and watery than oily, making the name somewhat of a misnomer. Consistency aside, essences are highly concentrated and extremely volatile, often containing hundreds of organic components, sometimes only a few.
Essential oils include a variety of hormones, vitamins and chemicals needed to perform various plant functions. A flower's essence, for example, attracts insects for pollination. In a shrub or tree, the essential oil becomes resin to heal wounds from severe weather damage. Essential oil regulates the water content in a plant and prevents evaporation.
Often a plant produces a toxic substance against bacteria, virus or fungus. The essential oils of these highly complex organisms of the plant kingdom are one of nature's many gifts to human beings. They've been used to freshen the atmosphere, enrich the food, and heal whatever ails the body, mind or spirit of mankind.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in the art and science of aromatherapy. Legendary Chinese ruler Shen Nung is credited with discovering the medicinal properties of plants and writing the first herbal text, 'Pen Tsao' (c. 2700-3000 BC), a catalog of more than 200 botanicals. Today's archeologists continually find evidence of therapeutic uses for essential oils in the civilizations of ancient China, India and the Middle East. Ayurveda, traditional Hindu medicine practiced throughout the world, utilizes herbal treatment with origins in the 2nd millennium B.C.
Ancient Egyptians used incense, waters and ointments and resins for various religious ceremonies. Queen Cleopatra kept massive gardens of hundreds of flowers and used their essences to perfume her body and surroundings. Terra cotta urns filled with aromatic oils accompanied Pharaohs to the afterlife. Roman soldiers treated wounds with honey and myrrh and emperors and scholars relaxed in legendary perfumed baths. The Old and New Testaments of the Bible contain detailed recipes using aromatic compounds.
Widespread use of essential oils throughout Europe coincided with the invention of glass distillation methods in the 16th century, the discovery of new trade routes and the invention of the microscope, which facilitated the study of bio-active compounds.
These developments ushered in extraction of essential oil from plants such as French rosemary, Italian chamomile and lavender from England. Queen Elizabeth I used an abundant supply of English lavender oil throughout her life, a practice continued by Queen Victoria during her entire 64-year reign.
The tradition was upheld in the latter 20th century by Diana, Princess of Wales, who often was photographed enroute between Kensington Palace and her aromatherapist's office. Her living quarters were kept naturally fragrant with essential oils throughout the year.
Modern aromatherapy was born in the early 20th century when Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist working for a prominent perfumer, accidentally set his arm on fire in the laboratory. He thrust it into the nearest vat of cold liquid, which happened to be lavender oil, and felt immediate relief. Previous chemical burns had caused severe pain, redness, blisters and scarring.
Surprisingly, this burn healed quickly with minimal pain and no scarring. Gattefosse coined the word 'aromatherapie' to describe his healing experience. He spent the rest of his life researching health benefits of essential oils and published his findings in the 1937 landmark book 'Aromatherapy.' It was translated into English in 1993 and the 2nd edition is still in print, 70 years after it was written.
French physician Jean Valnet continued the work of Gattefosse during World War II, using essential oils to successfully treat wounded soldiers with gangrene, greatly reducing the need for amputation. His book, 'The Practice of Aromatherapy,' popularized aromatherapy for medical and psychiatric use throughout France in the 1960s.
In 1962, Marguerite Maury published findings which heralded the cosmetic benefits of essential oils. The first English language book, 'The Art of Aromatherapy' by Robert Tisserand (1977), introduced the benefits of aromatherapy coupled with massage and advanced the practice in the United Kingdom and the United States.
The New Age movement latched onto aromatherapy soon after and 'the rest is history.' A burgeoning of holistic, natural medicine since the 1980s has provided a comfortable environment for aromatherapy. In 2008, aromatherapy accounted for 95% of the essential oils global market, roughly US$ 4.6-billion. The industry has grown at a rate of 7.5% annually in the last decade and shows no signs of abating. Aromatherapy has been around for ages and it’s here to stay.