What is Aromatherapy?

canstockphoto4069486People throw around the word “aromatherapy” alot. But what does it actually mean? Well, it kind of means what it says! In simple terms, it is the use of plant oils, in their most concentrated, and essential form, to promote both mental and physical well-being. Although the word “aroma” implies that the therapeutic benefit arises from inhaling the oils into your lungs, the term has also come to encompass using essential oils in other applications.

Some essential oils can be diluted with a carrier oil and used on the skin to heal various ailments. An example of this is using tea tree oil for acne flareups. Or, if you have ever used a vapor rub on your chest during a cold to help alleviate coughing and sinus congestion. That too, would be aromatherapy.

canstockphoto8671435Although the term, aromatherapy is generally thought of as a new phrase; the practice of using plants to heal has been around for thousands of years. According to historians, the Chinese were one of the initial cultures to use the essence of plants to promote better health by incense burning. Ancient Egyptians were known to use distilled cedarwood oil mixed with myrrh, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove to embalm their dead. The Egyptians, were also some of the first to use oils to make perfumes.

Have you ever heard the nursery rhyme, “Ring around the Rosie?” Aromatherapy is inadvertantly referred to. See the Americanized lyrics below.

Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.

This rhyme is said to date back to the Great Plague in England around 1665. A rosy rash was a symptom of the plague and posies (a small bouquet) of herbs and plants were carried as protection to ward off the smell of the dead and diseased. Interesting, huh?

canstockphoto2565506Around 1928, the phrase aromatherapy came into being. The story goes that a French chemist by the name of Rene-Maurice Gattfosse burned his forearm and used some lavender essential oil on the burn. It so happened, the lavender essential oil was the closest liquid he had handy. He was surprised at the rapid rate the burn healed; as well as the fact, he had no scar. At this point, he began using and writing about “aromatherapy” and the power of using essential oils to heal thyself.

Around the 1970s, there was a big push to get back to nature. After decades of ingesting and inhaling products full of chemicals, many are looking for a greener way to live. Using aromatherapy properly seems to bolster better results, with fewer side effects than taking medications in some cases.

At Emmi’s Essentials™, we advocate the smart, educated use of aromatherapy. Some essential oils can be advantageous. And some, downright dangerous. Always follow the recommended use, and do your own research, to find out how aromatherapy can best be used by you.