Term used for treatment of illness and maintenance of general
physical health using essential oils distilled from plants.
Virtually unknown to the modern world twenty years ago, aromatherapy
is now considered the fastest growing natural healing
art in the United States.
Aromatherapy treatments were known in ancient Egypt,
Greece, Rome, and other civilizations, while early Arabian physicians
developed the distillation of aromatic oils through experiments
in alchemy. The term aromatherapy derives from
the writings of the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse,
whose book Aromatherapie was published in 1928. However, the
modern popularity of aromatherapy is generally traced to Marguerite
Maury and Jean Valnet. Maury, after developing a new
technique for the extraction and use of oils, published her findings
in 1962, for which she earned the Prix international
d’esthetique et cosmetologie. Jean Valnet also contributed to
the field of aromatherapy by publishing the widely read book
The Practice of Aromatherapy in 1964. Both of their works were
picked up by the New Age movement in the 1980s and have
become an integral part of the holistic health movement.
Essential oils are highly condensed vegetal extracts containing
hormones, vitamins, antibodies, and antiseptics. They are
considered the most concentrated form of herbal energy, widely
used in pharmacy, cosmetology, and perfumery. Various experiments
and studies have shown essential oils to be effective
therapeutic agents, particularly in cases of disease associated
with bacterial, viral, and fungal infection. Essential oils also
support and strengthen the human immune system.
Contemporary aromatherapy can be loosely grouped into
four main categories esoteric aromatherapy, fragrance aromatherapy
(or aromachology), massage or English aromatherapy,
and medical aromatherapy. Esoteric aromatherapy is
concerned with the energetic effects of essential oils on the subtle
bodies. Aromachology studies the psychological effects of
English and medical aromatherapy both address the effects
of essential oils on the physical body. They insist upon the use
of essential oils from single, identifiable plant sources. Essential
oils are used both as natural tonics and as therapeutic agents.
Medical aromatherapists use essential oils internally as well as
by inhalation and by topical application. Aromatherapists
trained in the English method dilute essential oils in other oils
for massage, and diffuse the oils for inhalation. By way of diffusing,
the healing is achieved through the olfactory senses,
which lead from the nose to the limbic system, the most primitive
area of the brain. Thus, the essential oils are said to affect
the body in a primal and often subconscious manner.
The philosophy behind aromatherapy is connected to the
Gaia Hypothesis, which conceptualizes the earth as a living organism,
seeing plants and animals together as inextricable
parts of that organism. In Aromatherapy Workbook, Lavabre
writes, ‘‘Essential oils are the ‘quintessences’ of the alchemists.
In this sense, they condense the spiritual and vital forces of the
plants in material form. Therefore, they act on the biological
level to strengthen the natural defenses of the body, and are
the media of a direct human-plant communication on the energetic
and spiritual plane.’’ Aromatherapy postulates subtle energies
of aromatic plants related to life force, which can be correlated
with ancient Chinese concepts of Yin and Yang.
A basic tenet of aromatherapy is to match a specific remedy
with a particular malady, designed for a unique body chemistry.
As such, aromatherapy can employ a wide variety of plant
oils to treat similar conditions. Examples of aromatherapy remedies
for common conditions include
Colds—7ml Rosemarin officitualus verbanion, 3ml Eucalyptus
globulus, 0.25ml mentha pepierita, for inhalation
through a diffuser
Headache—Two drops lavender, rubbed on temples or
back of neck
Muscle Strain—Massage oil created with five drops eucalyptus,
five drops peppermint, five drops ginger, diluted in one
tablespoon vegetable oil
Stress Reduction Soak—two drops lavender lavera, two
drops glang glang, in one tablespoon epson salt, place in
warm tub.
(See also Perfumes)
Aromatic Thymes. April
17, 2000.
Lavabre, Marcel. Aromatherapy Workbook. Rochester, Vt.
Healing Arts Press, 1990.
National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. http
www.naha.orgabout.html. April 17, 2000.
Schnaubelt, Kurt Ph.D. Advanced Aromatherapy The Science of
Essential Oil Therapy. Rochester, Vt. Healing Arts Press, 1998.
———. Aromatherapy Course, Cited Pierre Frandomine
and Daniel Penoel, formula for colds. San Rafael, Calif., 1985.
Severns, Dorothy & Thorpe, Penni, Letter from Into the Scented
Garden Aromatics San Mateo, Calif., 2000.
Stead, Christiane. The Power of Holistic Aromatherapy. Poole,
England Javalin Books, 1986.
The Burton Goldberg Group. Alternative Medicine A Definitive
Guide. Tiburon, Calif. Future Medicine Publishing, Inc.,
Thompson, C. J. S. The Mystery and Lure of Perfume. London,
Tisserand, Robert. Aromatherapy. 1977. Reprint, London
Mayflower, 1979.
Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and
Aromatherapy. San Rafael, Calif. New World Library, 1991.

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