Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy which can help the body’s natural ability to prevent, heal, rest and recover from illness and has been used in some form or another for centuries. Aromatherapy is the use of essences from plants, in the form of oils, which can treat symptoms on the physical, mental and emotional level and is entirely natural. Essential oils can be obtained by distillation, solvent extraction or expression and come from the seeds, flowers, fruit, peel, grass, leaf, root or wood of the plant but whatever the method or the source the result is an essential oil free from any impurities.
As the name suggests aromatherapy works by smell, which is our most primitive and instinctual sense, which can have a substantial effect on our mood and outlook. Each oil has a distinct aroma and unique properties and up to three oils may be combined to create a new scent depending on your preferences and requirements. Essential oils are grouped by their type of fragrance which relates to the part or type of plant they come from*
- Florals are from the flowers, or petals, and include: Lavender, Chamomile and Ylang Ylang.
- Fruities are from the fruit and include: Bergamot, Grapefruit and Lemon.
- Herbies come from plants considered herbs and include: Basil, Geranium and Rosemary.
- Leafies come from leaves and include: Cypress, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree.
- Resinies are from the resin, or balsam, and include Frankincense and Myrrh.
- Rooties come from the roots and include: Angelica, Ginger and Turmeric.
- Seedies are from seeds and include: Aniseed, Coriander and Nutmeg.
- Spicies are from plants considered spices and include: Black Pepper, Cinnamon, and Clove.
*taken from The Fragrant Mind by Valerie Ann Worwood)
Aromatherapy can help treat a very wide range of conditions such as arthritis, back pain, headaches, colds and flu on the physical side, poor memory or concentration and insomnia on the mental side and emotional states such as depression, anxiety, anger, phobia and grief among many, many more. A qualified aromatherapist is helpful in many ways but not necessary as your vendor should be able to advise you.
Some conditions, people and pets may not be suitable for essential oils so check with your G.P., vet or supplier first.
“People perceive [essential oils] to be kind and gentle. It’s a gentle form of therapy. People have an increased interest in looking after their own health and maintaining their own health and wellbeing and that is one of the key reasons why people have gone to alternative therapies”
says Stephen Dagnell of G. Baldwin & Co, a leading purveyor of essential oils.
“If we are in an environment where there is a nice fragrance in the air we feel more relaxed and calmer”
Baldwin’s sell over 100 different essential oils the most popular being Lavender but in the run up to Christmas Frankincense oil sees a steep rise in sales.
Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways:
Massage is the most effective as the oils are absorbed directly into the skin. In this case the oils need to be blended with a base/carrier oil (not used neat on the skin or swallowed) such as almond, avocado, olive or wheatgerm etc (allergies permitting). You can create your own or buy the oils already made up and ready for use.
Bathing is the second most effective way of using essential oils and can be used every day.
Inhalation can be used by placing a towel over your head and inhaling the vapour from a few drops of oil.
Compress soak the material in a basin or bowl of warm water and a few drops of oil then apply to the affected area.
Room Fragrancers are a way of filling your home or office with the aromas of your choice to create or enhance the atmosphere. To do this you can use an oil burner to disperse the aroma around the room or a diffuser which is electric and does not heat the oil thus retaining the properties of the oils for longer.
The important things to remember are that you like the aroma or blend so try before you buy and only a few drops of essential oil at a time are needed as less is more and a little goes a long way.