WHAT IS AROMATHERAPY AND WHY IS IT MAGIC?
Aromatherapy is a type of alternative medicine that uses essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds which are aimed at improving a person’s health. The use of aromatherapy can balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind, and spirit. Today, aromatherapy is widely practiced in North America and Europe. It is one of the most popular and fastest paced directions of alternative medicine. The main advantage is the use of natural essential oils, which do not have the side effects as modern medicines.
The word “aromatherapie” is said to have been coined by the French chemist, Dr. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, and later translated to English as aromatherapy. It is taken from the words “aroma”, meaning fragrance and “therapy” meaning treatment. Therefore, aromatherapy is understood as a treatment by scents and the effects of essential oil components. In fact, smells play an important role in peoples’ lives. Scents may draw different memories as our nose instantly responds to smells. What does the smell of mowing grass remind you of—or the smell of apple pie?
The human nose can potentially recognize at least 10,000 odors, maybe even more. If one applies smells constantly and consciously, the smell senses will progress. If you make a rule of applying oils every day, you will raise your ability to recognize many distinguishably scents. Your life will become more fulfilled and, more importantly, more healthy. Many essential oils, for example, eucalyptus or lemon oils, have antiseptic value. Their application in an aroma lamp will disperse essential oils so that their aroma fills a room or an area with the natural fragrance. Using essential oils every day as an aroma therapeutic preparation, in baths, for a massage, for cleaning rooms, and for medical purposes, will help you to improve your well-being and health.
The oldest written evidence of aromatic substances of plants being used for the preparation of drugs was found on a Sumerian clay slab dating back 5,000 years ago. Indian literature counts more than 700 plants, including cinnamon, ginger, myrrh, coriander, sandalwood, and aralias. The ancient Egyptians used essential oils for aromatizing their clothes and bodies as well as for conservation of products and drinks. Cedar resin, frankincense, and myrrh have been used in cultic incenses for ages. Priests used aromatic oils for anointing, and salves based on olive and almond oils, with the extracts of myrrh. Antiseptic properties of lemon, cedar, and myrrh oils were used for disinfection in temple rooms.
In the beginning of the twentieth century, aromatherapy became a part of medical science as an alternative to traditional medicine that generally used synthetically made chemical substances. Aromatherapy uses only pure essential oils, which support recuperating and revitalizing the psycho-emotional and physical spheres that may prevent stress or, possibly, diseases.
During the 1930’s, the advanced European clinics started using methods of aromatherapy to promote faster recovery of patients after traumas, operations, and complications. By the sixties, a new knowledge base about essential oil properties arose; mainly due to newer methods of oil extraction being developed.
There are entire research institutes for the investigation of composition and properties of essential oils. Scientific research is revealing the mechanism of essential oils through odor, antivirus, antimicrobial, tonic, relaxing, and other action of components, which include exploring compatibility, interaction of oils, and developing methods of their usage. The aromatherapy discipline itself is constantly developing. Many books and magazines about aromatherapy are being published daily and there are hundreds of offices in West European countries, the USA, Canada, and Japan where aromatherapy is being practiced.
The question arises, how is it possible to affect human organism through scent? In fact, essential oils affect our organism not only via smells, but every essential oil consists of a combination of particular substances that interact in a certain manner with an organism’s chemical elements that, in turn, affect particular organs or systems as a whole. Essential oils are multicomponent organic compounds of terpenes, spirits, aldehydes, ketones, and other hydrocarbons that are produced by odoriferous plants. These are clear, colorless, or slightly toned fluids. They are volatile, do not leave fat spots on paper, practically insoluble in water, and oxidize under the influence of light and oxygen, especially citrus oils. The quantity of different organic and inorganic substances comprising essential oils varies from 120 to 500. For example, frankincense oil contains about 300 components.
When using oils for massage, they easily soak through the skin and are transferred throughout the body. As previously stated, it is well known that aroma influences the psychological and physiological condition of man, and combines, with healing properties of essential oils. One explanation is that some molecules of essential oils act like hormones, penetrating into the systems of an organism, revitalizing the emotions and physical reactions, and adjusting them. Essential oils optimize body defenses against infectious diseases. As an example, they can stimulate production of leucocytes that attack harmful microorganisms. High concentration of antioxidants are found in essential oils, which is another mechanism of their influence.
Aromatherapy is mainly used in medicine, cosmetics, perfumery, cookery, and household activities. Main methods of aromatherapy usage in medicine are inhalations (hot and cold), massage, baths, perfume agents with healing action, cosmetics and perfumery use, masks for face and skin, water or carrier oil based blends enriched with essential oils, conditioners etc. I would like to remind you that modern cosmetics and perfumery use many substitutions for natural substances that make aromatherapy even more attractive for usage in this specialty.
There is an exciting and new innovative art within aromatherapy – cooking with essential oils. The oils not only stimulants the appetite and digestion, but is also highly effective as a nutritional supplement. Essential oils contain vitamins, nutrients, and trace elements, which are far better than artificial flavorings. Research has determined that essential oil can also be used in food preservation.
Essential oils are surprisingly useful all around the house. They can be used for general cleaning, air freshening, in the washer and dryer, washing the dishes, getting rid of household insects and much more. You can easily create your own homemade cleaning products with essential oil.
Where to begin? It is recommended that you collect essential oils step by step. First, learn properties of oils, practical usage of different methods, and recipes of aromatherapy. Tune yourself in to an endless experience of cognition of scents and their effects.
It is important before using any essential oil that you do a simple skin test to check if it is allergenic to you. There are many ways to test and it depends upon how you are going to use the specific oil. If you do not like the smell of an essential oil, then this oil, most likely, does not suit you. Perhaps the odor induces unpleasant recollections, which indicates that you should not use that particular oil as it may restimulate negative processes in your psycho-emotional sphere.
To check for allergy, you can apply one drop of the selected essential oil to a handkerchief and smell it during the day, or rub a mixture of a small amount of cream with one drop of the studied essential oil on the inside of your wrist. Leave on the skin for 24 hours. If you do not have any adverse reactions after 24 hours, you may use this oil.