Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process. So we can interpret his coining of the word “Aromatherapie” to mean the therapeutic application or the medicinal use of aromatic substances (essential oils) for holistic healing. As the practice of aromatherapy has progressed, over the years, it has adopted a more holistic approach encompassing the whole body, mind and spirit (energy).
Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It is an art and science which seeks to explore the physiological, psychological and spiritual realm of the individual’s response to aromatic extracts as well as to observe and enhance the individual’s innate healing process. As a holistic practice, Aromatherapy is both a preventative approach as well as an active method to employ during acute and chronic stages of illness or ‘dis’-ease. Aromatherapy, or essential oils therapy, is using a plant’s aroma-producing oils (essential oils) to treat disease. Essential oils are taken from a plant’s flowers, leaves, stalks, bark, rind, or roots. The oils are mixed with another substance (such as oil, alcohol, or lotion) and then put on the skin, sprayed in the air, or inhaled. You can also massage the oils into the skin or pour them into bath water. Aromatherapy as used today originated in Europe and has been practiced there since the early 1900s.
The word was coined in the 1920s by French chemist Renι Maurice Gattefosse, who devoted his life to researching the healing properties of essential oils after a lucky accident in his perfume laboratory. (In the accident, he lit his arm on fire and thrust it into the nearest cold liquid, which happened to be a vat of lavender oil. Much to his amazement, the burn quickly healed without a scar.)
The main branches of aromatherapy include:
- Home aromatherapy (self-treatment, perfume & cosmetic use)
- Clinical aromatherapy (as part of pharmacology and pharmacotherapy)
- Aromachology (the psychology of odors and their effects on the mind)
Practitioners of aromatherapy believe that fragrances in the oils stimulate nerves in the nose. Those nerves send impulses to the part of the brain that controls memory and emotion. Aromas are received through the olfactory system of the nose. The olfactory membranes under the bony covering of the nose contain hundreds of millions of extremely sensitive nerve endings for receiving and processing aromas. Microscopic vaporized oil particles from every organic substance enter the nose and float along specialized cilia which differentiate each chemical and respond in kind by generating a unique code of nervous impulses which are received by the central nervous system. These impulses then begin a long but momentary journey.
First they are carried to the Limbic Mid-Brain (the center of our emotions and memories), and then to the base of the brain, which is the pathway between the spine and higher brain centers, passing between the pituitary gland (switchboard of the endocrine system and ALL emotions) and the pineal gland (regulates our biological clock and stimulates our inner vision) and then to a little known part of the brain called the amygdala, which stores and releases emotional trauma. Finally the impulses complete their journey by entering our gustatory center of the brain, which is our taste perception. It is no wonder odors, smells and aromas create such a biological and emotional response.
Depending on the type of oil, the result on the body may be calming or stimulating. The oils are thought to interact with the body’s hormones and enzymes to cause changes in blood pressure, pulse, and other body functions. Another theory suggests that the fragrance of certain oils may stimulate the body to produce pain-fighting substances.
Aromatherapy may promote relaxation and help relieve stress. It has also been used to help treat a wide range of physical and mental conditions, including burns, infections, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. But so far there is limited scientific evidence to support claims that aromatherapy effectively prevents or cures illness. Aromatherapy, commonly associated with complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), is the use of volatile liquid plant materials, known as essential oils (EOs), and other aromatic compounds from plants to affect someone’s mood or health. Essential oils have both a physiological and psychological affect. They have the potential to detoxify and heal the physical body, as well as release and balance thoughts and emotions, and open pathways to higher consciousness.
Physically, essential oils have the potential to alter bodily processes, oxygenate the brain, and restore normal functioning of the physical body. Most directly affect the nervous system and are antibacterial, and many are antiviral, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, immune-supportive, and more. And yet they also have an effect on the mind, emotions, and spirit, which interestingly is the direct result of their ability to physiologically change the central nervous system and key brain centers.
Subtle Aromatherapy is intended to primarily affect the mental, emotion and spiritual aspects of the individual, addressing issues such as healthy lifestyle, stress relief, promoting relaxation, mental focus & clarity, fatigue, depression, meditation and exploring higher states of consciousness, however, physical bodily systems are also affected. Only essential oils of the purest, highest frequency can be used and these 100% pure essential oils are called 100% pure a fragrance washes over you and suddenly you are transported back in time to a treasured moment from long ago…. That is the beauty, the essence, the miracle of subtle aromatherapy.
Organic aromas such as freshly baked bread, a newly mown lawn, the salty sea, or the sweet smell of the earth after a rainfall fill our everyday lives. This is the sensory world of smell, which is one of the ways our being gives and receives information.
Aromas have the power to alter our physical body’s chemistry, our emotions, our thoughts and mental outlook, and our sense of spiritual connection.The molecular chemistry of the essence of a plant, its essential oil, is diverse and complicated. Each chemical constituent creates a singular effect. For example, oils containing sesquiterpenes, such as Frankincense and Sandalwood, are able to pass the blood brain barrier in the brain, allowing oxygenation of the pineal and pituitary glands. “In studies conducted at Vienna and Berlin Universities, researchers found that sesquiterpenes in the essential oils of sandalwood and frankincense can increase levels of oxygen in the brain by up to 28 %( Nasal,1992). Such an increase in brain oxygen may lead to a heightened level of activity in the hypothalamus and limbic system of the brain, which can have dramatic effects not only on emotions, learning, and attitude, but also on many physical processes of the body, such as immune function, hormone balance, and energy levels. High levels of sesquiterpenes also occur in Melissa (lemon balm), myrrh, and clove oil
When a combination or blend of essential oils is created, the many constituents unique to each plant’s essential oil is powerful indeed. With a essential oil blend, one must fully understand not only the effects of each singular essential oil, but also the resulting effect of the synergy of the combination of essential oils.
The gift of essential oil blends is that a unique combination of essential oils can be made specifically for one’s needs.
While the practice of aromatherapy is sometimes thought to be confined to inhalation, it may include various methods, including:
- Inhalation (directly or diffused into the air)
- Absorption through the skin (baths, massages, compresses)
- Absorption through the mucous membranes (oral rinses and gargles)
- Ingestion (occasionally prescribed, with caveats)
When applied to the skin, the plant’s life-force is absorbed into the body’s fluid systems which eventually circulate through the organ and glandular systems of the body and eventually through all fluids and tissues of the body.The foot is the most porous of all the body’s skin. Rub a clove of garlic on the bottom of your foot and in about 5 minutes you will taste it in your mouth and “feel” the sensation in your nose. Essential oils applied to the feet, the most porous part of the body, and travel throughout the body and affect the cells, including the hair, in just 10-20 minutes.
New research suggests that because the olfactory nerves are similar to other nerves in the body, they may have the ability to form and transmit intelligent codes of information to all other parts of the body via neurotransmitter chemicals in the body. Recent research suggests that intelligence occurs not only in the brain but inside neurotransmitters.
There is no doubt that essential oils through inhalation and the direct application to the skin affect not only the physical body, but the mind, emotions and spirit. The potential for healing is enormous with therapeutic-grade essential oils. We are only beginning to understand their power and effectiveness.
Remember, go slow, inhaling or applying only one or two oils at a time. Some oils cannot be applied “neat” to the skin, which means undiluted. Savor each oil and give each one time for its voice to speak to you. Soon, you will know the oils intimately.
When aromatherapy is used for the treatment or prevention of disease, a precise knowledge of the bioactivity and synergy of the essential oils used, knowledge of the dosage and duration of application, as well as, naturally, a medical diagnosis, are required. In the Anglo-Saxon world, even among “natural” practitioners like herbalists or naturopaths, aromatherapy is regarded more as an art form than a v
alid healing science. At best, it is viewed as a complementary and seldom the only treatment prescribed. On the continent, especially in France, where it originated, aromatherapy is incorporated into mainstream medicine. There, the use of the anti-septic properties of oils in the control of infections is emphasized over the more “touchy feely” approaches familiar to English speakers. In France some essential oils are regulated as prescription drugs, and thus administered by a physician. In many countries they are included in the national pharmacopeia, but up to the present moment aromatherapy as science have never been recognized as a valid branch of medicine in the United States, Russia or Germany.
Aromatherapy is based mainly on the following therapeutic effects:
- Antiseptic effects: viricidial, bactericidal, fungicidal
- Anesthetic action (menthol, camphor)
- Central nervous system effects
- Metabolic / Endocrine effects
- Psychological effects Immune stimulator
Fragrances can have a relaxing effect measured as an increase in alpha brain waves. Aromatherapy is among the fastest growing fields in alternative and holistic medicine. Aromatherapy is sometimes used in clinics and hospitals for treatment of pain relief, for labor pain, for relieving pain caused by the side effects of the chemotherapy, and for the rehabilitation of cardiac patients.
Skeptics argue that while pleasant scents can be relaxing, lowering stress and related effects, there is currently insufficient scientific proof of the effectiveness of aromatherapy. Like many alternative therapies, few controlled, double-blind studies have been carried out – a common explanation is that there is little incentive to do so if the results of the studies are not patentable.
There are some treatments generally accepted in Western medicine to give a form of relief for the airways in case of cold or flu, such as mint and eucalyptus essential oils. Skeptical literature often depicts aromatherapy as based on anecdotal evidence of its benefits rather than proof that aromatherapy can cure diseases. Some skeptics acknowledge that aromatherapy has limited scientific support but argue that its claims go beyond the data or that the studies are not adequately controlled and peer reviewed. If there can be positive effects, there can also be negative ones if used incorrectly or in bad combinations especially with traditional pharmacology.
The term “aromatherapy” has been applied to such a wide range of products that almost anything which contains essential oils is likely to be called an “aromatherapy product”, rendering the term somewhat meaningless in that context.
Some proponents of aromatherapy believe that the claimed effect of each type of oil is not caused by the chemicals in the oil interacting with the senses, but that the oil contains a distillation of the “life force” of the plant from which it is derived that will “balance the energies” of the body and promote healing or well-being by purging negative vibrations from the body’s energy field. Arguing that there is little scientific evidence that healing can be achieved, or that the claimed “energies” even exist, many skeptics reject this form of aromatherapy as pseudoscience or even quackery.
Historically aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years for healing and spiritual rituals. Aromatherapy and its various uses was a sacred practice in most traditional cultures including the Persian, Hebrew, Mayan, Greek, Egyptian and Chinese.
Today, aromatherapy is a very active movement in Europe, especially in France where it is now a recognized medicine reimbursed by medical insurance.
Plants from all over the world contain useful essential oils. These highly volatile oily substances, to which the plant owes its perfume and flavor, are present between the cells and act as plant hormones, regulators, and catalysts. They may be considered as representing the vital elements or life force within the plant.
Extraction methods are of utmost importance with purity being imperative in order to obtain good therapeutic results.
Breathing in these essentials oils is what gets the required results. Aromatherapy
requires an extremely high quality of essential oils. Synthetic substances cannot replace the real product. There are hundreds of chemical components in essential oils. Most of them are in minute quantities, and yet it is the precise combinations and ratios of elements which render each oil powerful.
Because of that, solvents or preservatives are not used in the preparation of first-quality essential oils. A steam-distillation method of extraction is used instead. This process consists of sending steam throughout the plants, which evaporates oils.
The steam is then condensed and the oils separate from the water. This method yields high quality oil. The best oils come from wild organic plants.
The amount of oils found in each plant varies greatly and this is reflected in the price.
Essential Oils and the Chakras
& Body Parts
|~~~||12″ above head||Unknown
all delicate flower oils
all root oils
any clear crystal
St. John’s Wort
|blue lace agate
legs & feet
St. John’s Wort
all root oils
|~~~||6″ below feet
into the Earth
all root oils
all delicate flower oils