What Is Aromatherapy & Essential Oils

Does the aroma of baking bread or hot apple pie make you hungry? Perhaps on a subconscious level it takes you back to a time when your mother was baking for a holiday and at the same time a warm, secure feeling creeps its way into your being.

This is what aromatherapy is all about —using an aroma to bring about a physiological, psychological, and emotional change. In its purest sense, aromatherapy is using natural essential oils to soothe, comfort, and calm.

Essential Oils are naturally-occurring substances with an endless variety of uses. These aromatic concentrates are generally steam-distilled from a wide range of flowers, roots, leaves, barks, and resins, or cold-pressed from the rinds of citrus fruits. Essential oils contain hormones not unlike those of a human. For these reasons, natural essential oils form a synergistic bond with the human body.

Using oils for their medicinal, pharmacological, and cosmetic values has been dated to use in Egypt over 6,000 years ago. Since then, essential oils have been used in a variety of ways. Ancient Vedic Hindus vaporized floral and herbal oils to soften the skin, soothe the mind, and normalize various glandular activities—a practice that continues even today. The Aztecs enjoyed saunas whose steam carried fragrant floral and herbal vapors from small pools of stone and hot water. Hippocrates described the curative effect of more than 300 plants. The term "aromatherapy" was first coined by the French chemist, Vernet, in 1928.

Essential Oils vs Synthetic Drugs

Using natural oils for their medicinal properties was mainstream in the U.S. until the dawn of synthetic drugs. Synthetic drugs were made to directly attack physical problems; consequently, certain side effects were associated with certain drugs. Botanical oils, on the other hand, are meant to heal the whole person by stimulating their mental and physical awareness.

Natural oils work on psychological and physiological levels. Just smelling a pleasant fragrance immediately relaxes the mind and uplifts the spirit. Aromas enter the body through the nose where the olfactory nerves carry their message directly to the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system is the most primitive part of the brain that regulates the sensomotor activity.

Essential oils have been used for centuries in healing, altering of moods, and raising of consciousness. We eat plants for nourishment, but we can also partake of their life energy, or power, in more subtle ways. Aromatherapy affects the other bodies of man — the emotional, mental, and spiritual, not only the physical. Since plants manifest cosmic consciousness, they can open us up to a meditative or alert state and the all-encompassing consciousness of love.

When absorbed, the oils work with and stimulate the body's natural healing system. They help the body return to normalcy by supporting and acting as a natural stabilizing agent for the body's immune system. In this way, essential oils are able to work therapeutically on the symptoms as well as the cause of the illness; and at the same time, soothe and comfort the mind and emotions.

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With their exceptional versatility, you will find many applications for essential oils in cooking, preparing your skin and body care products, candles, aromatherapy, or simply for the enjoyment of their wonderful fragrances.

True essential oils are alive, and hum with soothing energies. However, synthetic oils have no link with the earth, and so, are energetically "dead". True essential oils are costly, precious and rare, so use them with due respect for the life essence of the plant.

These oils are potent... a little goes a long way. They can be used in bath oils, body powders, massage oils, love potions, spiritual ceremonies, oil lamps, or on a cotton ball. They should not be taken internally nor by pregnant women. Do not apply undiluted oils to the skin due to their intense concentration—dilute with a carrier oil such as almond, apricot or sunflower.

They should always be kept out of the reach of children. Patch testing is recommended before using on skin.

nora kracerRecommended book: 

Aromatherapy Oils: A Complete Guide

Info/order this book

More books on aromatherapy.

About The Authors

Drawn from information by Nora Kracer and Ariel Kadira. Nora Kracer is vice president of Sorg & Kracer, Inc., which manufactures top quality, patented, aromatherapy candles. She can be reached at: 3731 N. Country Club Dr., PH25, N. Miami Beach, FL 33180. 


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