OVERVIEW Aromatherapy uses plant materials and volatile oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots and other parts of a plant, including essential oils, for the purpose of altering mood and enhancing psychological and/or physical well-being. There are a wide number of essential oils available, each with its own healing properties. Aside from promoting health, Aromatherapy is sometimes described as an alternative medicine used to counteract disease, and often used in conjunction with conventional medicine, as a complementary therapy.
Aromatherapists (the practitioners of aromatherapy) use blends of certain therapeutic essential oils in massage, inhalation or water immersion to achieve
a particular response.
The benefits of inhaling essential oil into the lungs can be both psychological and physical. The aroma of a natural essential oil can stimulate brain function. When applied physically, to the skin, essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream and their constituents can aid in health, beauty and hygiene. Essential oils are powerful and concentrated, hence they are generally diluted into a carrier like a cold pressed vegetable oil - e.g.sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and grapeseed oil. Diffusing eucalyptus essential oil is commonly used to help ease nasal congestion.
Essential oils can also be used in household and laundry cleaners, pesticides and natural insect repellents (candles and dispensers made with Citronella essential oil to repel mosquitoes).
If not done correctly and safely, however, the use of essential oils can have severe consequences. Not all products labeled with the word aromatherapy are pure and natural. Products that contain artificial/synthetic ingredients are generally frowned upon in holistic aromatherapy, do not provide true aromatherapy benefits and can even be harmful. Look at the ingredient labels (beware of any that do not list their ingredients!) and avoid those containing fragrance oils and unpure chemical components.