What is Aromatherapy?

The art of applying essential oils to suit individual needs. The oils work directly on the chemistry of the body, via the skin and bloodstream.

Essential oils are extracts that contain the substances that give plants their smell. They are produced by tiny glands in the petals, leaves, stems, bark and wood of many plants and trees. In nature, they are released slowly, but when heated or crushed, their oil glands burst, releasing the plant's aroma more strongly.

It isn't known exactly when or where the art of aromatherapy began. It is thought that Chinese knowledge of medicinal oils may have reached the west by way of the Egyptians, Greeks and Roman. The first recorded use of plants in Britain was in the 13th century and from then on, manufacture increase and the oils became widely used as perfumes, antiseptics and medicines.

How are the oils applied?

aromatherapy massageUsually by massage, they can be given as a relaxing treatment covering "stress" areas such as back, shoulders, face, legs.

Essential oils can also be inhaled, using an oil burner or breathing in an infusion and can also be very beneficial when added to baths.

Who can it help?

Aromatherapy is believed to be suitable for people of all ages, even babies. Aromatherapists claim that they can treat many conditions, and often see a great improvement in nervous disorders, such as depression, anger, stress and other related symptoms such as headaches and insomnia.

Practitioners say that aromatherapy is safe for home use, but the following general guidelines should be observed:

  • Only high quality oils should be bought from a specialist aromatherapy supplier.
  • Pure oils should not be applied directly to the skin.
  • Oils should not be swallowed unless they are supplied by a fully trained aromatherapist and used under his/her supervision.
  • Some oils are to be avoided by pregnant women. Check with a trained aromatherapist.

For more information about how essential oils exert their effects, please have a look at the Aromatherapy Database.

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