What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the art and science of using essential oils for improving and maintaining health and beauty. Several ancient civilizations (Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Chinese and Indian) have used Aromatherapy for their physical and mental well-being. The actual word “AROMATHERAPIE” was coined in 1928 by Rene Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist. While conducting experiments, his hand was severely burned in a lab explosion and he found that LAVENDER healed it. He is referred to as the modern day father of Aromatherapy. Today there is growing interest in this gentle but effective method to balance body, mind and spirit.
The theory behind aromatherapy
It is believed that the inhalation of essential oils stimulates the part of the brain connected to smell - the olfactory system; a signal is sent to the limbic system of the brain that controls emotions and retrieves learned memories. This causes chemicals to be released which make the person feel relaxed, calm, or even stimulated. If the aromatherapy includes massage the effect is to further relax the person.
The essential oils are said to have a direct pharmacological effect. Aromatherapists claim there is a synergy between the body and aromatic oils; however there is no scientific proof that this is the case. Nevertheless, some preliminary clinical studies have revealed positive results.
Essential oils, phytoncides and other natural volatile organic compounds (VOCs) work differently. When targeting our sense of smell they activate the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. When applied topically (onto the skin) they activate thermal receptors and destroy microbes and fungi. Internal application may stimulate the immune system (generally in prescribed form).