Aromatherapy has been around for some 6000 years and involves the use of pure essential oils (fragrant plant extracts), usually through massage, inhalation, baths or compresses. In an aromatherapy massage, individual blends are prepared by the practitioner, in a base of cold pressed oil and then applied to the patient's skin through a remedial or relaxing massage. It is important that they are not used directly on the skin, as burning or rashes could occur.
As a holistic treatment, aromatherapy can have a profound effect on physical and psychological wellbeing. There exists the belief that scent, as the most enduring of our senses, has the power to transform our emotions, and heal our bodies.
The Essential Oils used in aromatherapy are extracted from plants and herbs to treat conditions ranging from infections and skin disorders to immune deficiencies and stress. When aromas are detected in the nasal cavity, impressions associated with previous experiences and emotions are created. Combining this with the fact that the parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance are also related to the nasal cavity, it is evident that the use of essential oils contributes to and achieves many physiological or psychological effects.
Some common oils and their uses include:
Aromatherapy can have a wide range of benefits, from the physical to the emotional. The benefits of essential oils can be obtained through inhalation or by external application. Aromatherapy is often used in conjunction to mainstream medicine to help treat common colds and flu, insomnia, nausea, skin conditions, migraines and headaches and many other ailments. Aromatherapy is easy to practice, readily available, and can be effective as a therapy, but should be used with care.