Aromatherapy according to Aromatherapy by Anna Selby is derived from the ancient practice of using natural plant essences to promote health and well-being. It consists of the use of pure essential oils obtained from a wide assortment of plants, which have been steam distilled or cold-pressed from flowers, fruit, bark and roots. Aromatherapy is also the therapeutic use of aromatic substances. Therapeutic use covers both mind and body, whereas aromatic substances tend to be the essential oils. As a treatment, it is usually combined with body-contact therapy in the form of massage. Aromatherapy massage is one of the most relaxing types of massage. The nature of Aromatherapy is as a holistic treatment, restoring balance to mind and body as well as its specific use in treating a wide range of symptoms. Aromatherapy can help ease a wide assortment of ailments; easing aches, pains, and injuries, while relieving the discomforts of many health problems. Aromatherapy also acts on the central nervous system, relieving depression and anxiety, reducing stress, relaxing, uplifting, sedating or stimulating, restoring both physical and emotional well-being. Although Aromatherapy is consider to be a new and alternative foram of medicine in the western world, however it has been practiced for thousands of years in the eastern world.
A lot of interest in Aromatherapy stems from its use as an ‘alternative medicine’ or even a ‘complementary medicine’. It is certainly true that before pharmaceutical companies brought a vast array of modern drugs to the market, people had to make do with many ‘home remedies’ – often herbal remedies or extracts of plants. Flowers, buds, roots, bark, leaves etc. all played a part in the treatment of disease and sickness. In this mix of treatments essential oils. Essential oils are pure, concentrated plant extracts obtained specifically for their fragrance and therapeutic value. The chemical composition of these oils is exceedingly complex – often tens or hundreds of constituent parts. It is now thought that all of these parts play a vital role in the effectiveness of essential oils and thus the chemical synthesis of these oils has proved remarkably tricky. have always had a role stretching back to the early civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome.
According to Aromatherapy Complete Guide to Plant and Flower Essences for Health and Beauty by Daniele Ryman, Aromatherapy, while relatively new to the Western World, goes back a long way. Although the term essential oil is a recent one, civilizations have been using incense, perfumes and cosmetics for thousands of years. Herbs and spices have been used in cooking for a long time, but their use has often been linked to both religious and medicinal purposes. Indian literature, dating from around 2000BC mentions the use of cinnamon, ginger, myrrh, coriander and sandalwood. The Chinese have a long tradition of alternative medicine. Aromatherapy is just one of a number of treatments which include acupuncture, reflexology and herbal remedies. The Egyptians were renowned for their herbal potions and ointments. Temples were filled with incense. Corpses were embalmed in oils of cedar and myrrh. Egyptian women wore perfume. Greece and Rome were introduced to the riches of the far-away places. Camphor from China, Cinnamon from India, Gums from Arabia.
Much of the knowledge gained by earlier civilizations was lost to Europe during the Dark Ages. The Arabs excelled in the manufacture of perfumes during the thirteenth century. During the Middle Ages, infectious diseases such as the plague were fought off with aromatic plants strewn across floors. Lavender water was available in the sixteenth century at the local apothecary. It was a time of alchemists embarking on mystical quests to turn base metals into gold, and for others to distill the quintessence from aromatic materials. Not until the end of the seventeenth century was the distinction between perfumes and aromatics made clear, with alchemy giving way to chemistry as more and more became understood about the nature of matter. The scientific revolution of the early nineteenth century saw the birth of the modern drug industry. During the twentieth century, essential oils were moved away from therapeutic use into perfumes, cosmetics.
Aromatherapy is one of a number of alternative medicines now gaining credibility in scientific or medical circles. Others include acupuncture, and acupressure , herbal medicine ( Western or Chinese ), homeopathy, hypnotherapy and reflexology. Other treatments are not so well accepted. I think these would include Alexander Technique, Ayurvedic Medicine, Chakra Therapy, Color Therapy, Crystal Healing, Feng Shui, Flower Remedies, Hydrotherapy, Iridology, Phrenology, Reiki, Regression, Shiatsu ( using the Yin and Yang meridians ), Spiritual Healing, Tai Chi and Yoga.
Even though Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years in the eastern culture but it is still relatively new the western culture. Many Aromatherapy treatments are well established the antibacterial and antiseptic properties of essential oils are proven facts. Whereas others are very controversial, they have a little evidence with no scientific basis, For instance, the use of oils in cancer treatment would be viewed with great suspicion by the medical community, and could in no way be recommended. There is little point in rejecting modern drug and radiation therapies which have a proven track record in fast and effective treatment because of some ‘belief’ in an alternative therapy. However, even with serious disease, essential oils can relieve the symptoms and provide a mental comfort which is still hard to explain without knowing more about the interaction of brain chemistry with the olfactory centers.