Aromatherapy uses essential oils and other aromatic compounds from plants for the purpose of affecting a person’s mood or health.
History of Aromatherapy
In the 1920s by French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé, whilst working in a perfume laboratory set his arm on fire. He thrust his arm into the nearest cold liquid which in this case was lavender oil. He experienced immediate pain relief and the burn healed more quickly than could have been expected. He coined the term Aromatherapy now given to this use of essential oils for medical and or mood treatments.
Essential Oils may be applied in the following ways
- aerial diffusion for environmental fragrance or aerial disinfection
- direct inhalation for respiratory treatment for congestion as well as psychological effects
- topical applications – massage oils, in baths, compresses, skin care items
- oral, rectal, vaginal interfaces most commonly for treatment of infection, congestion, parasites and perfumery
Materials us in Aromatherapy
- Essential oils: Fragrant oils extracted from plants predominantly through steam distillation (e.g. eucalyptus and lavender oil) or expression (citrus oils). Also sometimes used to describe fragrant oils extracted from plant material by solvent extraction.
- Absolutes: Fragrant oils extracted from flowers through solvent or supercritical fluid extraction (e.g. rose absolute). Also, oils extracted from fragrant butters, concretes, and enfleurage pommades using ethanol.
- Phytoncides: Volatile organic compounds from plants that kill microbes(eg Pine Oil). Many terpene-based fragrant oils and sulfuric compounds from plants in the genus “Allium” are phytoncides, though the latter are likely less commonly used in aromatherapy as they pong(garlic, onion contain such oils)
- Herbal distillates or hydrosols: The water soluable remnants of the distillation process (e.g. rosewater). There are many herbs that make herbal distillates that have culinary,medicinal and skin care uses. Common distillates are rose, lemon balm and chamomile.
- Infusions: Aqueous extracts of various plant material (e.g. infusion of chamomile)
- Carrier oils: Typically oily plant base triacylglycerides that dilute essential oils for use on the skin (e.g. sweet almond oil and other vegetable oils)