Aromatherapy History and the Use of Essential Oils

Aromatherapy has been used for centuries and continues to gain popularity. Aromatherapy history and the use of essential oils for various purposes began with the Egyptians and the Ancient Greeks when they realized how beneficial scented baths, diffusers and candles were for the overall well being of the human body.

The father of medicine, Hippocrates suggested that Athens be sprayed to rid the city of the plague in the city. Aromatherapy is the use through smell or massage of certain properties of plant oils or essential oils usually for psychological and physical well being.

Dr. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse developed some of the basic principles found in aromatherapy. After he burned his hand and used lavender oil as an ointment and his handed healed completely, he thought that other plant oils and scents could be used for similar uses.

A French doctor by the name of Jean Valnet, discovered that plant oils were effective in healing and disinfecting when applied to the skin and proceeded to write a book discussing aromatherapy in 1964 to educate others on the importance of aromatherapy.

Professor Paolo Rovesti used various plant oils in various circumstances to study their effect. For instance, he used lemon oil, sandalwood and jasmine for depression. To treat anxiety, he tested lime, rose, orange leaf and cypress.

It has been known and studied that the sense of smell triggers significant memory responses. Essential oils that are used in aromatherapy are obtained from plants and flowers through cold pressing or distillation.

When the essential oils are applied through the sense of smell, the minute molecules in the oils are picked up by the very sensitive nerve endings contained in the nose. These molecules are then sent to the emotional center of the brain to effect physiological or emotional changes in the body in order to balance and heal the mind, body and spirit.

It is important to note that these aromatherapy oils are highly potent. They can burn the skin when applied undiluted to the skin. It is therefore important that the essential oil be mixed with another oil known as a carrier oil. Carrier oils such as grapeseed, almond and sunflower work the best because they do not interfere with the scent of the essential oil used in aromatherapy. If you use an oil such as olive oil, it will interfere with the scent of the aromatherapy oil.

Although many health stores mix various combinations of essential oils making it unnecessary for individuals to make their own mixes, some people still mix their own combinations of aromatherapy oils that help them relax and that please them.

The various ways that the essential oils can be used in aromatherapy include, spraying into the air, inhalation, massage, used in bath water or used in cold or hot compresses.

Some people however should be careful around plant oils such as asthmatics because inhalation may lead to an asthma attack. Some people suffering from allergies can develop breathing problems when introduced to essential oils such as rosemary and sage. Juniper oil may cause uterine contractions in pregnant women.

Before you get into aromatherapy and use various plant oils, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and the people in it before you practice aromatherapy. A common practice is to use essential oils in a relaxing bath. Find what works for you to help you improve you overall emotional and physiological well being.

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