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Aroma Therapy
By Lotus

Please Note: All information presented here is strictly for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care. Prior to the use of any essential oils, it is your responsibility to consult with a certified licensed Aroma therapist.

I looked around to see if I could find anything on aromatherapy, perhaps I did not look in the right place. If I am duplicating a previous article please excuse these old eyes and my newness at your very informative site. I discovered the benefits of aromatherapy many years ago. This ancient art has been refined over the centuries, and brings a sense of pleasure, and healing, as it promotes good health and well-being. “Aroma,” the first five letters of the word aromatherapy, defines on of the principal features of the essential oils. It is the aromatic nature of these substances, along with the effects they have on our brain through our sense of smell that makes aromatherapy more than just the application of sweet-smelling oils. Wonderful as they are, essential oils can be harmful. Some are toxic, or skin irritants and should not be used regularly. Also the inappropriate use of oils may put some people at risk.

Patricia Davis –“Aromatherapy AN A – Z”

The following oils must never be used for anybody suffering from epilepsy as they can trigger an attack:
Fennel (Sweet)

Wormwood – should not be used in therapy at all.

Cedar wood
Lavender and Rose should also be avoided during the first 4 months, but may safely be used after that if well diluted - 1% - 1 ½%.

High Blood Pressure

Skin Irritants
Lemon Grass
Lemon Verbena
There is a possibility that Ti-tree may also have a skin-sensitizing effect on some people.

This next group of oils may irritate the skin whether used in massage or baths. Handle with care.

Do not use at all for people with sensitive skin:
Cinnamon Leaf
Fennel (Sweet)
Fir Needle (Siberian)
Parsley Seed
Pimenta Leaf

Photosensitization The following oils make the skin more sensitive to ultra-violet light and should not be used before exposure to strong sunshine, sun-beds or other sources of ultra-violet light:

Note: As a caution Essential oils have an important role in an holistic approach because they work on so many levels. At the same time we must remember even small amounts of essential oil can build up to a toxic level in the body as they are readily absorbed through the skin. Therefore, I believe we should consider consulting a well-trained and licensed aromatherapist before using any essential oil. Aromatherapy may be defined as the therapeutic use of the essential oils of aromatic plants. These oils are highly concentrated forms of herbal energy and represent the soul or life force, of the plant. The value of natural plant oils has been recognized for more than 6000 years for their healing, cleansing, preservative and mood-enhancing properties as well as for the sheer pleasure of their fragrances.

The origins of aromatherapy can be traced through the religious, medical and social practices of all major civilizations. It is believed that the Chinese were the first to discover the remarkable medicinal powers of plants around 4500 BC, however, it was the Egyptians where the use of aromatic essences were highly developed. They created various fragrances for individual use, rituals and ceremonies. From hieroglyphs and paintings we know that aromatic preparations were used as offerings to the gods. The ritual use of aromatics was important in Egyptian spiritual life. No discussion of ancient Egyptian practice would be complete without mentioning the use of aromatics in mummification. The discovery of remarkably well-preserved mummies up to 5000 years after their preparation has left many modern day scientists amazed with the ancient embalmer's art. For example, in 1922, when King Tut’s tomb was exhumed over 350 liters of oil was discovered. The oil had been kept in alabaster jars where wax had solidified into a thick residue around the opening, keeping the oil in excellent condition.

Around 3000 BC, priests who had been using oils in religious and embalming ceremonies became aware of the natural antiseptic and antibacterial properties of essential oils and resins. Closely guarding their secrets they became the healers of their time. Gradually the oils began to make their way into cosmetics and perfumes. The Greeks and the Romans used aromatics widely in their ceremonies and rituals...and from Hypocrites, we know that the Greeks were aware of the their value as sedatives and stimulants. The oil played an important part in Greek and Roman lifestyles, enhancing baths and massages however, as the Roman Empire fell, so did the use of essential oils in Europe. The art flourished elsewhere though, particularly in Arabia where Avicenna was the first to distill the rose essence around AD 1000, and Arabia became the world's center for perfume production. The earliest written record of their use was by Nicholas Culpeper whose book on herbs was published in 1652 and from that time a great increase has been shown in both oils and treatments. A French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse wrote the first modern book on aromatherapy (indeed he coined the word). Dr. Jean Valnet, a French physician, also experimented with essential oils using them often on his patients. It was Marguerite Maury who developed the method of applying the oils through massage. She was eventually persuaded to come to England setting up the first aromatherapy clinic in London, where she taught passing on her knowledge. Today there is a worldwide revival in the art of aromatherapy and research is beginning to understand the scientific foundations of the oils, properties and applications.

The vital element in aromatherapy is pure essential oil. I must stress that just because something is natural does not mean that it is harmless. Essential oils are highly concentrated forms of plant energy. In order to safely use these oils, it is essential that you understand this. As we explore the methods of their extraction, it becomes apparent that the production of essential oils can be a lengthy procedure. Also important to note is that the cost of producing essential oils depends greatly on the harvesting of the plant, the quality of the plant, where it is produced and the quantity of oil glands present in the plant. Essential oils are extracted from an array of plant sources...petals, leaves, seeds, nut kernels, bark, stalks, flower heads and gums and resins from trees and are composed of tiny molecules which are dissolved in alcohol, emulsifiers and particularly fats helping them to penetrate the skin more easily. As the essences evaporate, they are also inhaled, entering the body via the nasal passages sending messages to the brain. This helps us understand how essential oils are able to enhance both physical and psychological well-being at the same time.

Steam Distillation The Egyptians stored their raw materials in large clay pots adding water as the pots heated so that steam rose and was pushed through a cotton cloth in the neck of the jar. This soaked up the essential oil. It was then squeezed and pressed out into a collection vehicle. Today, the same principle remains, a high-pressure steam is passed over leaves or flowers so that the essential oils within them vaporize. The water and essential oil begin to separate naturally upon cooling. As the essence separates, it runs into a collecting vessel. This is the most modern method used today.

Maceration - similar to enfleurage: Flowers or leaves are crushed to rupture some of the oil glands then soaked in warm oil to break down the cells, releasing their fragrance into the oil which is then purified and the aromatics extracted.

Enfleurage: This is the method by which flower essences such as jasmine, neroli and rose, (being more delicate and difficult to obtain) are extracted. Flowers or petals are crushed between wooden-framed, glass trays and smeared with purified fat or wax until the fat is saturated with essential oil. A solvent such as alcohol is then used to separate out the essence. This can be a costly and time-consuming method.

Cold Expression or Pressing: This is a simple method of squeezing out essential oils from the rinds and peel of rip fruit, such as grapefruit, oranges, and lemons into a sponge producing the most natural essential oil because no heat or chemical treatment is involved. The best quality oils are expensive, but they are worth the extra cost. Synthetic substitutes are quite successful for cookery and perfumery but for the purpose of aromatherapy, only the purest oil will give the desired effect. As with most things the price is comparable with the quality. If an essential oil is to be suitable for aromatherapy, it should be from the correct plant source, preferably organic, and should never be adulterated with chemicals or synthetics.

Blending oils is one of the most exciting and creative activities in aromatherapy and one of the most important. Each oil has its own fragrance and properties and requires the skill of an aroma therapist to blend them harmoniously for each individual's therapeutic use. Essential oils are highly volatile and should be handled, mixed and stored with care. Oils are sensitive to the light and should be stored in a well-capped dark glass bottle. By the way, essential oils are not greasy and should never be applied directly to the skin undiluted.

When essential oils are used for massage, base or "carrier" oils play and important role in diluting the highly concentrated essential oils, which are used in very small quantities. The "carrier" oil also provides the lubrication needed for the therapist's hands. “Carrier" oil can be almost any un-perfumed vegetable oil but those most often used for aromatherapy are sweet almond oil and grape seed oil. Sesame seed oil, and walnut oil are sometimes used. Peach kernel, apricot kernel, and avocado oil, are rich nourishing oils often used on aging skin. All carrier oils will oxidize after being exposed to the air and that is why only as much as will be used for a treatment is mixed.

The use of aromatherapy can be seen as part of a lifestyle choice -- a lifestyle that allows for pleasure because moments of pleasure are relaxing and healing. Essential oils nourish and stimulate the skin, enhance the immune system and delight the senses. Using essential oils correctly is one of the most important things to learn. Never take essential oils internally unless prescribed by your physician. Choosing the correct method, knowing the proper dilution and being aware of the possible contraindications of specific oils will ensure you are using them safely and responsibly. You can soak in a relaxing bath, feed your skin or simply breathe in their wonderful healing aroma. The versatility of aromatic oils is one of nature's kindest gifts, and there are many ways of dispersing their fragrance.

This is the traditional aromatherapy treatment triggering the body's natural healing process .The techniques used in an aromatherapy massage are designed to be relaxing rather than stimulating. Combining essential oils with massage, gives a double benefit, the healing power of touch and massage and the plant energy of the oils. Essential oils are never applied directly to the skin and must be diluted in suitable "carrier" oil.

Steam inhalation is a good way to treat respiratory problems, colds, sinus etc. This method should not be used by asthmatics or if you have broken capillaries in the facial area. The method consists of adding a couple of drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot water, then covering your head with a towel while you inhale the vapors from the aromatic oils. By the way, this is a great facial cleanser.

One of the most common methods of use is in the bath. This is very effective because the oil can act in two ways, by penetration of the skin and by inhalation since the warm water causes evaporation to create an aromatic vapor. Essential oils are only added after the bath has been run and the water turned off. For sensitive skin, it is better to dilute the oil in base "carrier" oil like sweet almond, apricot or peach kernel. Caution must be used in the choice of oils, as it is easy to burn the skin with certain oils. Essential oils can also be used to refresh tired feet as well as for soaking chapped dry hands.

A marvelous way of applying essential oils to a specific area of the body. They can be hot or cold depending on the situation and are applied as needed. Place 5 drops of essential oil into a bowl of warm or cool water. Mix well and soak a washcloth, wring out and apply to area.

Add 20-30 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil and gently massage into a sore or stiff area...soothes the ache.

These attractive pots are simply to use and can effectively kill airborne bacteria as well as altering moods. The candle in the pot underneath heats the water, slowly releasing the fragrance of the oil into the room.

Essential oils are highly aromatic and many of the benefits can be obtained simply by inhaling the fragrance from the bottle, or the oil can be diffused into the room and used as an air freshener. Air sprays are simple to make and are environmentally friendly. Create your own by adding 15-20 drops of essential oils to a 2 oz. misting bottle filled with spring water. Shake and mist...spread the magic. Use the heat from a light bulb to release perfumed oils. Small ring burners can be purchased to sit over the top of a light bulb. A few drops of the essential oil and the heat from the bulb will gently vaporize the oil. A couple of drops of lavender on a tissue tucked near your pillow can help promote a relaxing sleep. Refresh tired potpourri by adding a few drops of an appropriate essential oil, or even make your own. Adding 3 or 4 drops to a hanky can be useful for treating colds or headaches. As you can see there are many ways of using essential oils and it is the versatility of applications that makes aromatherapy such a useful therapeutic tool.

Wonderful as they are essential oils can be harmful. Some are toxic or skin irritants, and should not be used regularly. Also the inappropriate use of oils can put some people at risk. The penetrating characteristics of essential oils can last up to twenty - thirty minutes when applied to the skin. Therefore, I would recommend that prior to using any essential oil, you consult with a Health Care Professional - an aroma therapist who is licensed and registered to practice in your area. The rebirth of this ancient art offers us the opportunity to inspire and enlighten us in achieving balance in a holistic manner.

Essential oils offer an opportunity to fine-tune our body's harmony. Many good books on aromatherapy are available. Patricia Davis, Robert Tisserand, Jeanne Rose, Valerie Ann Worwood and Julia Lawless are some of the respected Aromatherapists who have published books.


Again, Please Note: All information presented here is strictly for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care. Prior to the use of any essential oils, it is your responsibility to consult with a certified licensed Aroma therapist.

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