You have probably heard the term Aromatherapy and wondered what exactly that funny word, ‘aromatherapy’ actually means. It is the use of plant oils in there most essential form to promote both mental and physical well being. The use of the word aroma implies the process of inhaling the scents from these oils into your lungs for therapeutic benefit.
If you have ever used a vapor rub for a cough then you have tried aromatherapy, although not in its purest form. As a matter of fact, you probably have been using aromatherapy on yourself and your family for many years without realizing it through vapor rubs or electric vaporizers. Vicks or other brands of vapor rub use eucalyptus or menthol to clear out stuffy chests and noses. Imagine if you used the undiluted essential oil of eucalyptus how clear your lungs would feel.
The term aromatherapy is generally new, beginning to be used in the 20th century, but the practice has been around for thousands of years. It is believed that the Chinese were one of the first cultures to use the scents of plants to promote health through the burning of incense. Ancient Egyptians used distilled cedarwood oil mixed with clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and myrrh to embalm the deceased. The Egyptians also used oils to perfume both men and women. In the 14th century when the bubonic plague hit, killing thousands of people, aromas were used to ward off the deadly disease. There is even discussion that the popular nursery rhyme, “Ring Around the Roses” refers to aromatherapy. The lines, “a pocket full of posies” allegedly refers to keeping the flower in ones pocket in an attempt to keep the illness away.
Moving forward through later centuries a growth in books about the use of oils in healing grew.
The Greek alchemist, Paracelcus, used the term “essence” and focused study on the use of plants for healing purposes. While the use of essential oils for perfume continued to grow throughout the ages its’ use for medicinal purposes waned slightly until around 1928. It was at that time that a French chemist named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse accidentally discovered the use of lavender essential oil to heal wounds. The story is told that he burned his forearm and reflexively placed it in the closest liquid he saw, which was lavender essential oil. He was surprised to find that the burn healed rapidly and left no scar. It was then that he began using the term aromatherapy and wrote about the powers of essential oils.
Today, many people are trying to get back to nature. People have seen first hand the dangerous effects of synthetic chemicals and processed medications.
The use of all natural essential oils for medicinal, cosmetic, and therapy purposes continues to grow. Many people have found the results of using aromatherapy to be far greater then man made medications and with far fewer negative side effects.
Aromatherapy can be used by itself or in conjunction with typical medical treatments. For example, you may use aromatherapy to ease pain after a surgical procedure. You still get the benefit of the surgery but do not have to take the powerful and often dangerous pain medications that a doctor prescribes.