Get Adobe Flash player

More about aromatherapy

Aromatherapy can be said to dates back to ancient Egypt, and to the early Vedic culture of the Indus valley, where plants and flowers were distilled to extract their essential oils. These were used for both medicinal and perfume, but also importantly in both cases for use in temples and as sacred offerings in the home.  This long established tradition is perhaps more widespread than is documented and in a sense was a taken for granted use of plant material.In the early 20th century a French chemist Rene Gattefosse, badly burned his hand whilst working in his laboratory. In an attempt to cool the burn he plunged his hand into a vat of lavender essential oil that was waiting to be used in perfume. To Gattefosse’s astonishment, he found that the burn healed extremely quickly, without blistering or scarring, and he then went on to research the healing properties of other plants. This accidental discovery of what other cultures had long known that plant oils had particular healing qualities lead to the modern art and some would say science of aromatherapy.During the Second World War a French doctor called, Jean Valnet used essential oils to treat the wounds of the soldiers. French biochemist, Marguerite Maury, built on these practices by using essential oils as an integral part of healing massage.How does aromatherapy work?A Human being can distinguish up to 10,000 different smells, like most other mammals in the past we would have been very reliant on our sense of smell and our instinctive responses to certain scents. It is believed that smells enter through our nasal cilla, and then go on to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls our moods, emotions, memory and learning. It might be suggested that scent can bypass conscious thought in this way. We may respond to a smell before we are consciously aware of it.Essential oil, in effect the chemical essence of a plant is present in all parts of the plant, in differing forms and with subtly different characters. Although it is called aroma therapy it is in effect more complex than simply encouraging the person to smell an oil, research suggests that we can respond to oils through absorption in the skin, ingestion (for a small number of safe oils) and inhalation, though the lungs. In these ways the oils interact with our emotions and our nervous system, creating differing changes depending on the oil used.What does aromatherapy involve?An aromatherapy consultation will begin with the practitioner finding out about your medical history and what you would like the therapy to achieve for you. On the basis of the information you provide, the practitioner will then mix a recipe of essential oils, which is individually designed to suit your needs.The recipe can contain anything from four to eight different essential oils, and the practitioner will usually add three of four drops of each one to a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil. Depending on how the oil is administered you may then be massaged, given a bottle of lotion cream or oils to take home and use as advised, or you may be given advice on various lifestyle issues to maximise the impact of treatment.

If you are going to have a massage, you may be asked to undress and lie on a treatment couch whilst the massage is carried out. Therapists are particularly sensitive to their clients’ need for privacy and the client is always covered with sheets or towels throughout the massage, which are removed only over the portion of skin on which the therapist intends to work. Aromatherapy oils do not have to be used on the skin to be effective.Alternately you may be given oil to use with, an oil diffuser (a small china pot The recipe can contain anything from four to eight different essential oils which has a space for a tea candle underneath and a flat area on top for warm water to which a few drops of oil are added). The candle warms the oil and water and releases the fragrance into the room. Essential oils can also be diluted in water and sprayed into the air, or a couple of drops can be poured onto a tissue or cotton wool and tucked under your pillow whilst you sleep.What is aromatherapy good for?Aromatherapy can be used for a variety of physical and emotional problems including stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain, insomnia, coughs and colds, burns, scar tissue, digestive problems and skin disorders.