What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the controlled use of essential oils to maintain health and wellbeing. Aromatherapy is a complete holistic therapy as it affects not only your body, but also your mind and spirit. Aromatherapy can be divided into two main branches; beauty Therapy and Complementary Therapy. 

As a beauty therapy, aromatherapy is used mainly for relaxation purposes and the therapist may use a pre-blended oil. 

As a complementary therapy, oils are blended with the individual in mind, taking into account any problems or requirements. Aromatherapy makes use of essential oils and massage as a treatment for both physical and emotional ilnesses. It is used alongside conventional medicine to treat serious, often terminally ill patients. Benefits are best felt after several sessions and chronic conditions may require a course of treatment. Weekly at first, reduced to fortnightly and finally once a month - followed by "Top up" treatments.


The term Aromatherapy was coined by a french Chemist called René-Maurice Gattefossé in 1928. While working in a lab he burnt his hand and plunged it into a vat of lavender essential oil. He was amazed, the hand healed very quickly without scarring. This led him to investigate further the healing properties and benefits of essential oils. In 1937 he published his findings in his book : Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles Hormones Végétales.

Of course this is not the first time that humans have benefited from the use of essential oils; The Egyptians were using aromatic oils widely 3000 years before Christ, for not only medicinal purposes, but also for cosmetics and to embalm their dead. There are also records in the Bible of people using plants and their oils for treatment of illnesses and religious purposes.

The earliest written record of the use of essential oils in Britain was in the 13th century. During the Great Plague pomanders were carried in public places to ward off infection. The herbs used for these were known at the time to promote good health. Recent research has proven them to be powerful disinfectants and bactericides.


How Can Aromatherapy Help?

Essential oils are effective on an emotional and physical level and may be administered in a number of ways;

  • Inhalation - in oil burners, on a tissue, room sprays
  • Inhalation - in oil burners, on a tissue, room sprays
  • Compresses - both hot or cold
  • Baths and footbaths
  • Mixed with a carrier oil and used in massage

As an aromatherapist I treat a client using essential oils and massage. The oils are diluted in a carrier oil and the blend is specific to the needs of the person.

One of the immediate benefits of the treatment is a feeling of deep relaxation and calm. This occurs because massage eases muscular and nervous tension, soothes and quietens the mind and prompts the release of endorphins, the brain chemicals that produce feelings of wellbeing.

Research shows that massage helps to reduce levels of the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol - allowing the immune system to work effectively and aid the body's natural healing process. 


Some of the physical benefits of massage include:

Reduced muscle tension

Improved circulation

Stimulation of the lymphatic system

Reduction of stress hormones

Increased joint mobility and flexibility 
Improved skin tone 
Helps peristalsis easing constipation
Heightened mental alertness 
Reduced anxiety and depression 
Improved sense of wellbeing


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