by Gloria Jones
(San Antonio, Texas, USA)
Aromatherapy is one of the fastest rising industries in the country. With the fad of new age activities like yoga on the upswing, it seems that aromatherapy is here to stay for the next couple of years. In fact, it is one of the most popular practices in terms of holistic and alternative medicine.
It is being used everywhere, from clinics and hospitals for their pain relief treatment especially during labor and with chemotherapy to the rehabilitation of patients who have heart ailments, from the alleviation of stress and the relaxation of muscles in day spas to the beauty and cosmetic products being made. You name it and aromatherapy has influenced it one way or the other.
But besides candles and lotions and scents, which define aromatherapy to a T, what is it all about and what can it give us?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using oils from plant extracts for medicinal, relaxation and aromatic purposes. These oils are called essential oils, which are used and combined with other ingredients to produce perfumes, lotions, and other beauty, skin care and hair care products.
In fact, all the products with your favorite plant scent such as Rose, Lavender and Chamomile are results of the practice of aromatherapy. It is said that aromatherapy can also improve one’s mood, lightening it up and easing the stress. This is perhaps why the technique is also used in massage parlors and spas to relax customers.
The use of essential oils is a practice that has been going on for centuries. It all started with the Greeks, who invented the crude way of distilling. The process of distillation was then used to extract the oils from the plants.
Next to adopt the practice are the Egyptians, which incorporated it into their traditions and customs. Plant oils are used in their various religious set-ups and even in the burying of their dead.
In fact, archaeologists who dug up tombs in Egypt have found plant extracts and remains with embalmed bodies. It was also the Egyptians, who first used the plant extracts for cosmetic and aromatic purposes.
Next in line were the Romans, who discovered the use of the essential oils as medicine. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, has been known to use plant oils in his medical work back in his time.
It was only in the 1920s that the practice got the name “aromatherapy” which was invented by René Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist, who used the process in his own work.
Unknown to many, aromatherapy has a lot of branches. One of those branches is Home Therapy, which deals with the use of the practice for self-treatment as well as in the use of it in making perfumes and cosmetics.
It is also used in medical practice and this branch is called the clinical aromatherapy. Lastly, the branch that deals with the use of aromatherapy in the psychology of odors and its effects in people is called the Aromachology.
One of the best known scents in aromatherapy is the lavender, which people can actually find in every product label in groceries and in beauty stores. Unknown to many, lavender can also be used in the treatment of wounds as well as in the enhancement of memory. It can also be used as a sleeping aid as it helps relieve anxiety and insomnia.
In addition to lavender, other really popular aromatherapy products are those with the scents of Rose, Eucalyptus, Bergamot, Cinnamon, Rosemary and of course Jasmine.