Many people think that "aromatherapy" is just smelling a relaxing or pleasing aroma. So first, let's talk about what aromatherapy isn't:
- Smelling a boquet of roses, while enjoyable, is not aromatherapy.
- Using synthetically scented air fresheners, despite what the packages may claim, is not aromatherapy.
- Using lavender soap in the shower is not aromatherapy.
Essential oils are the primary and most important substances used in aromatherapy. Essential oils are made by extracting volatile oils from organic plant matter. Some common essential oils are: lavender, extracted from lavender flowers and stems; lemon, extracted from lemon peels; eucalyptus, extracted from eucalyptus leaves; frankincense, extracted from tree resin.
Essential oils are used in many ways, in addition to simple inhalation. Aromatherapy application methods include diffusion for inhalation, steam inhalation, dilution in a carrier oil for massage, dilution in the bath, use in a masque or salve, among others.
Essential oils are also used as fragrance ingredients in beauty products and perfumes. In these cases, the essential oil often is used for its fragrance properties. While essential oils may make the products may smell nice, in nearly all cases there is no significant medical "therapy" taking place when these products are used or applied.
You may still be wondering: why might I want to use essential oils, and what are the health benefits of aromatherapy? Many people have used aromatherapy to help relieve problems such as head and chest congestion, fungal infections, muscle pain, anxiety, and acne.
Last, but not least, it is imperative to familiarize yourself with safety guidelines before you begin doing any aromatherapy on you own. In most cases, essential oils should be well diluted in a carrier oil, such as almond oil or even olive oil. There is always the potential that an essential oil could cause an adverse reaction, and it is always possible to become sensitized to essential oils. Please do your research before using essential oils.
If you're ready to start exploring the world of aromatherapy, browse the Essential Oil Encyclopedia or delve into Aromatherapy Recipes.
Recommended Resources ~
More Aromatherapy Basics:
- Introduction to Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy 101 Article
- Wikipedia: Aromatherapy
- Benefits of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy Extraction Information:
Aromatherapy Application Methods:
Health Benefits of Aromatherapy:
- Aromatherapy Health and Beauty Database
- What Does The Research Say About Essential Oils?
- Guide to Aromatherapy Research and Resources