Essential oils and Aromatherapy

Many cultures – including the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Chinese – were convinced of the therapeutic properties of aromatherapy and used it to treat a variety of ailments. As essential oils are derived from natural sources, such as trees, grasses, herbs and flowers, they act efficiently, leaving no toxins behind.

In Ayurvedic medicine, a form of aromatherapy has been practiced as one element of holistic treatment for thousands of years. Since aromatic essences also contain the life force of a plant, they can help re-activate or harmonize the prana or chi within an individual, which is vital to the overall healing process.

The Chinese had just one word, heang, for perfume, incense and fragrance – classified into six basic types, according to the mood induced: tranquil, reclusive, luxurious, beautiful, refined or noble.

Their bodies, baths, clothing, homes and temples were all richly scented, as were ink, paper, sachets tucked into their garments, and cosmetics.

In 1910 – Gattefosse, a French chemist, discovered healing properties of lavender oil after dipping his hand in it following a burn. It healed without a scar or becoming infected.  He developed the use of using essential oils in their whole without breaking them down into their primary constituents. He discovered that the antiseptic properties are more active when used as a whole plant in its natural form and react stronger than separated or isolated.

He called the substances ‘oils’ as they separated from water and had the appearance of oil.

Essential oils have a balancing effect in three ‘P’ ways-

  • pharmocologically – e.g. eucalyptus as a decongestant
  • physiologically – a sedative or stimulant on organs or tissues e.g. rosemary improves blood circulation in the brain, thus improving mental activity
  • psychologically – smells affect our memory, learning and emotion e.g. a perfume can remind us of a person or a pleasant (preferably!) event.

An aromatherapy massage uses essential oils in a carrier oil, such as almond or grapeseed, which will enable the oils to enter your body through your skin and also through your nose. I will choose a blend of oils specially to benefit you and the therapeutic effects will continue to be active for up to 7 days.

Essential oils are very concentrated and should not, in general, be used neat on the skin as they can be an irritant.

If you particularly like the blend I use, you could buy the oils and burn them in a specially designed diffuser, usually mixed with a little water, or add a few drops mixed with a plain bath oil, to your bath.

Also read article about Aromatherapy