Aromatherapy, the very sound of the word is soothing. It conjures up images of inhaling substances for therapeutic purposes. However, this only tells part of the story.
The essential oils that are used may indeed be inhaled, but that is not the only method. Massaging into the skin—and even taking by mouth—are two other ways to use this therapy. (But this latter method is not to be tried on your own. Only trained practitioners may guide in ingesting these substances.)
Before we discuss the different aspects of aromatherapy, let’s talk about the background of this popular treatment. First and foremost comes a definition of the term essential oils. They are substances derived from various parts of plants. Each oil is made up of a unique blend of components, and this combination determines its use. Whether the resultant concoction is used for physical or emotional healing depends on its formulation.
Aromatherapy Has Been Around For a Long Time
While aromatherapy sounds like something new to the last few decades, it is a far-from-recent innovation. Essential oils have been used for thousands of years and around the globe to treat ailments from infections to depression. What’s more, they were, from the beginning, utilized in hygiene, cosmetics, and rituals.
The modern concept of aromatherapy began about a century ago. A French scientist by the name of René-Maurice Gattefossé tested lavender on a burn on his hand. Experimenting with the effects of various essential oils led to his inauguration of the practice of aromatherapy in 1928. However (and this may be the reason the therapy is considered to be a recent development), it did not catch on in this country until some 30 years ago.
So how does aromatherapy work? While no one is really sure, there are theories. One is the nose-brain connection. Certain scents may play a role in how the brain functions, resulting in relaxation or a feeling of well-being. And it is possible that there are hormonal effects of components of essential oils once they enter the bloodstream.
If you are considering aromatherapy, be sure to choose a trained practitioner. The aromatherapist, after learning about your condition, will decide what may work best for you. One thing to keep in mind is that, even though essential oils do, on a chemical level, have positive effects on various physical and mental functions, there is no research that proves their efficacy. However, the multitudes of individuals who claim that they reap benefits from aromatherapy may be all the proof we need.