What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic application of essential oils.  Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile plant essences.  Aromatherapy is the controlled application of essential oils for physical, psychological and spiritual health and well-being.

Aromatherapy can be described as:

*        a type of massage

*        an aesthetic treatment

*        the use of perfumed bathing products

*        a therapy based on the belief that odour affects the state of mind

*        a branch of herbal medicine

*        a unique therapy that helps to restore the peace and calm within the body

Whilst the term “aromatherapy” was coined in the 1920’s by French chemist René Maurice Gattefossé, the use of plants and their  unique essence has a much longer history.   Aromatic plants and oils have been used for thousands of years as incense, perfumes, cosmetics, medicinal applications as well as in cooking.

Modern aromatherapy is distinguished from ancient practice not by the application of the plant essences (then as now, plant essences were adopted in worship and ritualistic practice, medicine, for relaxation, in cooking and in perfumery to name but a few) but rather by the different methods used to extract the oils, the quality of the oils, and by the emergence of research into the effects of these oils; claims which stem from history, culture and folklore are now the subject of research.  Research does not mean that the historical or cultural meaning is lost – rather it is there to prove or to safeguard.  Science does not mean that particular oils are not good for meditation, or for spiritual growth.  Instead, it is to prove this in order to DISPROVE the sceptics (and there are MANY!).

Today we know that essential oils have an intricate chemistry; the different compounds provide different functions or characteristics and it is these chemical constituents which indicate the healing or harmful effect that the oil can have on the body.  We also have a better understanding of the action of essential oils and the olfactory system, and therefore on the limbic system – or, what is happening in the body in order for a certain oil to have a specific effect, such as relaxation or improving mood.

Aromatherapy is a relaxing massage – and has a well deserved place in the spa industry, where you can be pampered for an hour and come out feeling relaxed and invigorated.  My FAVOURITE part of my early years of university was the Monday morning massage.  But, aromatherapy is SO MUCH MORE!  And I look forward to imparting some of my knowledge and to hearing your feedback, or answering your questions (tamara_aromatherapy@yahoo.com.au)!

Tamara x

Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance.

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