Aromatherapy, also referred to as essential oil therapy, involves the use of concentrated plant extracts to promote the well-being and balance of mind, body and spirit. Though the word ‘aromatherapie’ was coined in the 1930’s, the practice has been around for millennia with much research to back its ability to unify our psychological, spiritual and physical processes in order to promote healing.
French chemist and perfumer Maurice Gattefosse, literally ‘wrote the book’ on aromatherapy, (Gattefosse’s Aromatherapie), publishing his findings in a book that was released in 1937. It is still referred to by modern practitioners in the present day.
Using natural, aromatic plant essences, aromatherapy is used both as a preventative and an active treatment, and has been found effective during both acute and chronic phases of many disorders, both physiological and psychological. It is a non-invasive modality designed to address the whole body condition, and not just the symptoms of a disease. It is meant to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes and to restore balance.
Aromatherapy can be potent medicine, achieving results where conventional treatments fail. When the olfactory system is stimulated, a signal is processed through the limbic system of the brain, the area that controls our emotional response and helps us to recall memories. Once this process is instigated, the brain releases chemicals that can in turn make a person feel calm, relaxed or energized, even euphoric in some cases. By combining aromatherapy with other holistic treatments such as massage, a practitioner can deepen the relaxation, relieving and removing the underlying stress that is the root of many modern ailments.
Even though there is widespread agreement among practitioners that there is a close relationship between aromatherapy and the body’s functions, there is still no absolute proof that this is the case. Clinical experimentation has, however, yielded positive results for many, though the conventional medical community is still on the fence for many reasons.
Aromatherapy can be safely administered in three different ways:
While essential oils are widely available to anybody, it is always important to highlight safety concerns, as improper use can potentially cause great harm to the skin and mucous membranes.
If you have been researching aromatherapy, you may have come across some discussion about the “French” methods as opposed to “British” methods. The basic difference between the two is that practitioners of the French methodology rely more on undiluted topical and internal use of essential oils, which can be exceedingly dangerous in the hands of the uneducated. The British method advocates diluted topical use, while the German method is based strictly on inhalation. When considering the French method, it is important to note that within France, it is illegal for anybody but a licensed practitioner or pharmacist to administer or prescribe an essential oil treatment. This puts aromatherapy in the realm of any conventional medicine, having the potential to do great harm if used incorrectly even as much as it can produce a good and positive result if used properly.
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