Aromatherapy treats mind and body together. The scent of the essential oils used can have a powerful effect on the emotions while the oils' chemistry affects the body.
The therapeutic use of essential oils covers a very wide spectrum. This is part of their charm and uniqueness. At the simplest, oils can be worn as natural perfumes, made into aromatic bath preparations or used in many ways as home remedies. They can also be combined with both home and professional massage to provide a very effective treatment for stress-relief. At the other end of the scale, specific botanical essences can be used by clinically trained therapists or doctors for the treatment of serious medical conditions.
The ways in which Aromatherapy can be practiced can be separated into five areas of specializations. Although it is impossible to draw hard and fast lines between these various aspects, classifications of this kind are helpful, at least in the short term, for the process of clarification and understanding. These different areas are: simple Aromatherapy for home use; cosmetic Aromatherapy; perfumery and the psycho-therapeutic use of oils for the effects of their odors on the mind; massage using essential oils; and medical and clinical Aromatherapy, where essential oils are used to treat medical complaints.
|Psycho-Aromatherapy and Perfumery|
A basic approach uses aromatic oils in a wide range of methods, including vaporization, aromatic bathing, local massage, cosmetic creams, and steam inhalation, for first-aid purposes and in the treatment of common complaints. This approach is in the ancient tradition of herbal "simples" - home remedies or household secrets, originally passed on from generation to generation. It can be adapted by nurses and other professionals and used as an adjunct to medical treatment. As a type of preventative medicine, it can help to ward off infectious illness and promote general health and well-being.
the use of essential oils for skin and beauty care is an ancient and specialized aspect of Aromatherapy. There are records that show that many primitive cultures natural aromatics as a means of adornment and s a way of enhancing their beauty. Indeed, many indigenous peoples still do so today. However, the earliest and richest associations concerning the cosmetic use of aromatic materials are to be found in the practices of the Ancient Egyptian civilization, some 5000 years ago. Aromatic herbs, gums and oils were incorporated into carefully formulated cosmetic ointments and other beauty preparations, as well as being employed in the embalming process. Seen in this light, the Ancient Egyptians were the original precursors of modern beauty therapists, especially those who use aromatic oils as part of their cosmetic treatments.
PSYCHO-AROMATHERAPY AND PERFUMERY
The term psycho-Aromatherapy is used to describe the use of the psychotherapeutic benefits of essential oils, effected mainly by inhalation but also by other methods of application. In the practice of psycho-Aromatherapy the ways in which botanically derived aromas can influence moods and emotions and help to induce certain states of minds are studied. This can be by bringing about a state of relaxation or through their energizing and stimulating effects. This contrasts with aromachology, in which both natural and artificial scents are studied for their therapeutic value, but principally for purely commercial purposes in the perfume industry. Nevertheless, psycho-Aromatherapy does have a treat deal in common with the art of perfumery, especially since all perfumes were originally made using natural aromatics, and since they both focus on the psychological effects of scent and require a high degree of olfactory discrimination and knowledge.
There are many benefits to be derived from combining massage with the use of essential oils. It is the main method adopted by professional aromatherapist working in the field of alternative health care. Aromatherapy massage has been largely influenced by the French pioneer, Marguerite Maury, whose research work was directly aimed at utilizing the healing and revitalizing properties of aromatics, especially through application to the skin. This approach is notably beneficial for the treatment of stress-related disorders and requires a substantial degree of training, both in acquiring massage techniques and in understanding the many and varied properties of the essential oils that may be used.
Medical Aromatherapy includes the systemic use of essential oils in the treatment of clinically diagnosed medical conditions. It adopts a wide range of methods, including oral prescription. It should only be practiced by suitable trained medical doctors or by clinical therapists, who, like qualified medical herbalists, have undergone a training period of at least four years. This is the approach of the 20th century founder of Aromatherapy, René-Maurice Gattefossé, and his scientific and medical successors.