What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is an ancient science and art and a branch of phytotherapy. The word “aromatherapy” literally means therapy through aroma or scent, however, as a fully holistic therapy, aromatherapy concerns itself with the whole person and is an effective method to balance body, mind, and spirit.
Aromatherapy is a therapy in its purest form. Through the utilization of essential oils and aromatic plants extracts, aromatherapy works on the entire person, physically, mentally, emotionally, as well as spiritually. While essential oils can be used simply for their fragrance and mood-altering properties, or for their beautifying benefits in cosmetics and skin care, in a professional environment, they are employed in a much more powerful way. In fact, aromatherapy is a well-practiced medical therapy in clinics and hospitals around the world. Not only do essential oils help treat individuals on a psychological and emotional level, their therapeutic properties aid in a variety of physical treatment plans as well as promote good health through prevention.
The Role of an Aromatherapist
The role of a professional aromatherapist is to understand the unique needs of each individual and create a wellness plan using the healing and therapeutic properties of essential oils to promote a healthy, happy, and balanced life. Aromatherpists are trained to look at each person as an individual composed of body, mind, and spirit. If one part is ailing, all three components will also be affected. An aromatherapist must endeavour to look at each area separately and as a whole before any course of action.
A client assessment is conducted during the initial appointment and a questionnaire is filled out by the client so that the aromatherapist may better understand his/her needs. Not only is a report taken to establish previous medical conditions as well as family medical history, but an aromatherapist also makes an effort to understand the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of each individual. After discussing health goals and carefully reviewing the answers, an aromatherapist will choose the appropriate oils to coincide with a specific holistic therapy, such as massage or hydrotherapy, or a special blend will be created and incorporated into a skin care treatment, such as a bath and body oil, a healing salve, balm, or a lotion. The aim of aromatherapy is not solely to treat the symptoms of dis-ease, but to act on the underlying causes in the most natural way possible. The true skill of the therapist lies in understanding the specific needs of the client and selecting the correct combination of essential oils and the method of use to foster physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance and overall wellbeing.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated extracts and the true essence of the plant from which they were derived. They are highly concentrated, complex, and volatile substances and are found in the flowers, leaves, seeds, rind, roots, and resins of a plant. The term essential “oil” is a bit of a misnomer as essential oils are, in fact, not really oily-feeling at all. Most essential oils are light and clear, while others may be viscous and coloured. Essential oils are extracted from botanic material through a variety of methods, including, distillation, expression, maceration, and solvent extraction.
What are Carrier Oils?
Carrier oils, also called base oils, are vegetable based oils derived from the fatty substance of plants and are usually extracted from the seeds, kernels, or nuts of the plant. Carrier oils are used to dilute the highly concentrated essences of essential oils. They are easily absorbed and thus, carry essential oils into the skin so that they may better deliver their therapeutic properties. Carrier oils also maintain their own therapeutic benefits, thereby enhancing aromatherapy treatments.
What are Hydrosols?
Hydrosols, also known as floral waters, hydrolates, hydrolats, or distillate waters, are the remaining substances during the production of essential oils through steam or water distillation. The word “hyrdrosol” is derived form the Latin hydro, meaning “water” and sol, for “solution”. These amazing byproducts are truly holistic in their nature as they contain the water-soluble components, the essential oil molecules, and the very essence of the plant from which they were derived. Unlike essential oils, which should be diluted before applying to the skin, hydrosols are much gentler and can be used directly and safely.
As a natural way to care for our health and enhance our wellbeing, aromatherapy utilizes the vital essence of plants through a variety of methods. The methods of use and application include the following:
Benefits of Aromatherapy
The benefits of aromatherapy are manifold. As a fully holistic form of natural healing, aromatherapy fosters wellbeing in body, mind, and spirit. By combining the physical and emotional benefits of massage, hydrotherapy, and inhalation with the medical and psychotherapeutic properties of essential oils, aromatherapy aids in a variety of dis-eases and promotes balance and an overall sense of wellbeing.
Some of the documented benefits of aromatherapy include:
- Relaxes, stimulates, and energizes
- Soothes and calms the mind
- Beautifies and improves skin tone
- Reduces stress
- Relieves anxiety, depression, and grief
- Uplifts the spirit
- Strengthens the nervous system
- Encourages restful sleep and alleviates insomnia
- Eases muscle aches and pains
- Relaxes muscles
- Reduces tension
- Relieves menstrual cramps
- Regulates hormones
- Reduces inflammation
- Relieves headaches and migraines
- Decreases congestion
- Improves digestion
- Improves blood and lymphatic circulation
- Facilitates blood pressure regulation
- Stimulates and boosts immune system
- Heals wounds
- Improves focus and concentration