Posts Tagged ‘orgins of aromatherapy’

Essential oils – Where they come from and common aromatherapy uses

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Essentials oils are, in a word, essential to the practice of aromatherapy. They are great for helping heal ailments and can be used to relax and refresh the body. But where do these oils come from and what gives them their therapeutic qualities?

Aromatherapy Essential Oils

Aromatherapy Essential Oils

Essential oils are man-made substances that are produced from taking the volatile oils (essences) of plants and exposing them to extraction processes that alter the chemical composition such as steam distillation and solvent extraction. These essences are produced within a plant as a reaction to sunlight – more specifically, the process of photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, plants absorb sunlight and convert it into light energy (glucose). Plant essences are produced when this stored sunlight energy is released. They are called the “life blood” of plants because they perform many important biological functions such as pollination, insect deterrence, and protection from rival plants.

Here’s a list of some essential oils and their therapeutic qualities:

  • Bergamot is refreshing and uplifting with a sweet and spicy scent. It is used in treating acne, boils, chicken pox, colds, cold sores, cystitis, loss of appetite, mouth infections and sore throat.
  • Jasmine is used for treating anxiety, cough, depression, headache, mental tension and sensitive or dry skin. It has relaxing and soothing effects with a warm, floral scent.
  • Rose has a warm and floral scent and is an effective all-purpose oil. It can be used to fight depression, grief, and fear. It is also good for the heart, digestive system, and for treating PMS symptoms. In addition, Rose is one of the best oils to use on dry and sensitive skin.
  • Tea tree is one of the most used essentials oils because of its ability to stimulate the immune system. It fights infections of all kinds, including viruses, bacteria and fungi. It can also help clear the skin. Tea tree has a spicy and pungent smell.
  • Rosemary has a pronounced effect on the brain and central nervous system. It used for stimulating the brain, improving memory and increasing mental awareness. It has a refreshing, woody, herbal scent.
  • Lavender is a calming and relaxing oil and is effective in times of stress and crisis. It relieves tension, depression and nervous exhaustion. Lavender has a floral, sweet, woody and herbal scent.

To learn more about essential oils and aromatherapy simply visit our Aromatherapy Section!

Making Scents – Instant Aromatherapy

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Homemade AromatherapyAromatherapy: the science of smells. It’s a word that’s become as common in spa vernacular as “sauna” or “facial.” But what does it really mean? And more importantly, how can you use it to attain instant relaxation?

While I consider closing my eyes and breathing in the intoxicating smell of maple-syrup-poured-over-a-warm-stack-of-pancakes a form of “aromatherapy,” the art of scents goes far beyond the notion of “smells that we like.” It’s a form of alternative medicine based in the healing and restorative power of essential oils, concentrated liquids extracted from plants, herbs, and flowers that we come in contact with on a daily basis. Basil, lemon, lavender, rose, thyme, cinnamon, citronella … the list is endless, but oh so familiar. Which actually makes everything about aromatherapy all the more appealing and all the more instant: there’s almost no plant, no herb, no essential oil whose primary ingredient you haven’t heard of. Who knew that aromatherapy could be as easy as a trip to your pantry?

Before leaving a world of non-scents for an olfactory nirvana, first figure out what type of oil or fragrant element you want to use (different scents for different gents). Every aroma has a unique and fantastic effect, from alleviating stress and fatigue, to relieving pain and elevating your mood. A quick cheat sheet:

  • For headaches: Basil, Lavender
  • As an aphrodisiac: Jasmine, Rose, Sandalwood
  • De-stressors: Lemon oil, Peppermint, Chamomile

With aromatherapy, the options are about as limitless as the fragrances! Purists say that using essential oils is the only true form of aromatherapy, but don’t limit yourself. Candles, incense, bath beads, infused lotions – even grated citrus zest in a bowl – can be part of your aromatherapy experience. Want real instant aromatherapy? Place sachets of herbs or flower petals in the pockets of your bathrobe, or dip cotton balls in your favorite herbal tea and leave them (inconspicuously!) around your bathroom. Doesn’t get much more instant than that.

Essential oils sound more intimidating, but I promise, they’re just as quick and easy to use. My favorite application is to infuse fragrance into my towels with essential oils; there’s nothing better than stepping out of a steam shower and wrapping yourself in terry cloth towel kissed with a hint of lavender. Before you dry your next load of laundry, put some drops of your favorite essential oil on a small washcloth and toss it in with your wet towels for instant aromatherapy! Or add a few drops to water in a spray bottle for the quickest air freshener you’ll ever find. And any unscented candle can become instant aromatherapy when you add a few drops to the hot wax as the candle burns. Just remember: with essential oils, less is more. You’re looking for the essence of rose, not a garden growing out of your steam shower.

Aromatherapy – it’s a big word for a really simple notion: fragrances with restorative powers. And in your home spa, there’s no easier way to make scents.


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