Aromatherapy is a term coined by French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefoss in the 1920's. It describes the practice of using essential oils taken from plants, flowers, roots, seeds, etc., for their benefits. Aromatherapy is said to restore or enhance mental, emotional, physical or spiritual health.
Essential oils can be blended together to also provide a specific therapeutic action. Oils may be made into salves, creams, and compresses. Oils are usually diluted with a "base" or "carrier" oil, which is a vegetable oil processed from nuts, seeds, or trees that helps spread the essential oil over a larger area and protects the skin from a reaction.
The aromatic chemicals found in essential oils are derived from phenylpropane, the precursor of amino acids, which link to make the proteins which provide the building blocks for just about everything in the human body from the smallest enzyme to the skeleton. In Aromatherapy it is held that when essential oils are applied to one's body, like in a massage, they are carried by the skin to specific organs and systems of the body where they enhance the natural functions of these organs. Unlike chemical drugs essential oils do not, as far as we know, remain in the body and are excreted out the body. In other words, essential oils enter and leave the body with great efficiency, leaving no toxins behind.
Essential oils can be anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal or anti-viral. They may even blend of two or more qualities. The essence, or chemical make-up of the oil, is what determines it's efficacy. Just as each oil has it's own unique scent, they each have their own unique medicinal properties and benefits as well.
One must be careful though, Oils that are high in phenols, such as cinnamon, can cause skin irritation. For this reason a bit of education in oils is beneficial, as they can be harmful if not used correctly, in the right amounts, or in the right ways.
There are many products claiming to be aromatherapy products, some of these are commercial products that just smell nice. Unfortunately, many companies improperly use the term aromatherapy on products that contain unnatural and perfume oils, so it's important to look at the ingredient label when seeking true aromatherapy products. Products that contain artificial ingredients do not provide true aromatherapy benefits; at best, they provide only a fraction of the benefit that natural products supply.
Being the fact that nearly 900 ingredients found in 98% of skin care products on the market in the US today are toxic, one must beware of what they put on their skin! A general rule-of-thumb is to be wary of products that do not list their ingredients and those that do not boast of having pure essential oils Look for products that contain pure essential oils on their ingredient list and avoid those that have words like fragrance.
We are bombarded with synthetics and fakes everywhere we look, from our skincare to our medicines, even most of the food we eat really isn't 'real'. Give up the excuse of not having time to treat yourself to a truely natural break...pencil it in your date book as a 'wholeness' treatment for your body, mind, and soul, one that you need on a regular basis, too!
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