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The beneficial effects of aromatherapy are well-documented. The Egyptians were experts in the use of cosmetology and created perfumes, incense and herbal preparations. They realized the importance of fragrance in everyday life and used their herbal preparations to enhance beauty and create a sense of well-being.
Although aromatherapy dates from ancient times, its wider acceptance is more recent. Ten years ago, it was dismissed as an alternative therapy practiced by hippies and it was not accepted as a part of orthodox medicine. Today, aromatherapy is seen as a complementary therapy which has its place in a more holistic approach to health.
So what exactly does an aromatherapist offer?
The aromatherapist aims to treat the client as a whole, to maintain a balance in his/her physical, mental and spiritual health. This is achieved through a consultation with the client to establish any concerns which they might have and the careful selection of essential oils, based on the properties of the individual oils and the synergy created in blending them together.
Aromatherapy offers a healing approach to the stresses of daily life. Essential oils are distilled from plant material and are highly concentrated and chemically complex substances, with both physical and emotional benefits. Used under the guidance of a professional aromatherapist, they offer a safe and natural approach to health.
The quality of the essential oils used is of paramount importance. In order for them to have therapeutic benefits, it is essential that the oils selected are 100% pure and organic or wild-crafted. Inferior grade oils or those intended as fragrance oils do not offer the same therapeutic benefits and may be potentially harmful. Organic oils should be used whenever possible as a concentrated chemical cocktail is undesirable.
Massage offers easy penetration of the skin; allowing the essential oil blend to be absorbed into the bloodstream, where it stimulates the immune system. The recognized properties of essential oils include anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral effects, which support the body and promote healing.
There are many other methods of application in aromatherapy, including aromatic baths, which are probably one of the most pleasant ways of experiencing essential oils. A bath offers an opportunity to relax and unwind and the oils can affect the mood as well as relieving muscle discomforts and aiding sleep.
If total immersion is impossible or impractical, it is still possible to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy through a shower or even a foot or hand bath. What could be more enjoyable at the end of a tiring day than soaking the feet in a foot bath with an essential oil blend to ease tension and promote relaxation? Sitz baths are another bathing method commonly used in aromatherapy, particularly in relieving symptoms related to the female reproductive tract. Alternating between hot and cold sitz baths is an effective method of relieving pelvic congestion and easing constipation.
For more local applications compresses may be applied as a means of relieving sprains and strains to muscles; swelling and inflammation of joints. Compresses may be applied hot or cold, depending on the nature of the problem and in some cases, alternating between the two is beneficial.
Inhalation is another method of application used in aromatherapy. This may be through vaporization using an essential oil burner or inhalation with a steam diffuser or the old-fashioned method of breathing in the essential oil vapors over a bowl of hot water.
The undiluted application of essential oils to the skin have their use in aromatherapy, but it is always advisable to consult a Certified Aromatherapist before considering this method of application. Certain oils can cause quite severe skin irritation and even burning of the skin (testing one drop on the inside of the arm is sometimes used). When in doubt, always dilute an essential oil in a base or carrier oil or cream prior to application and remember that essential oils are highly concentrated and should be treated with respect.
Marie is a Certified Professional Aromatherapist based in Toronto, Canada. She founded her company Marie Chantal to create high-quality natural skin care products and to promote the use of organic and wild-crafted essential oils. The philosophy behind the company grew from concerns about the ingredients commonly found in mass-produced creams and lotions and a desire to produce a purer alternative.Share Share