Aromatherapy – What is it and how does it work?Aromatherapy is a modern alternative therapy with a history as old as time itself. It is based upon the healing and relaxing effects that arise from the use of many scents. It is similar to the use of herbal remedies and organic medicines, with the main difference being the mode of delivery.

The term “aromatherapy” was initially coined by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist from the early 1900’s. He described his seemingly miraculous burn cure as “Aroma-therapie” and published his findings about the uses of aromatic extracts for various therapies in 1937.

The use of scents and scented oils for therapeutic means has been around at least as long as any human records and remains. Such practices are described in the Old Testament of the Bible and the remnants have
been unearthed in the ancient burial grounds of many cultures.

While many uses and types of scents are popular, including the use of candles, perfume and air fresheners, true aromatherapy uses essential oils. These oils are extracted from various types of plants, with the method of extraction depending upon the type of plant in use.

In aromatherapy, the essential oils are used in a variety of methods, some diluted and some full-strength to provide a variety of therapeutic results. Some of the ways these oils can be diluted are:

  • In water as a spray. A few drops of oil per ounce of water can be sprayed on the body or into the air.
  • In a bath. Add a few drops of essential oil to a bath, or blending with bath salts.
  • In alcohol. Add a few drops of oil to rubbing alcohol or vodka and dab onto locations of the body. Do not drink this mixture.
  • With salt. Combine essential oil with Epsom salt and natural sea salt. Use in bath or add olive oil to make a salt rub.
  • In lotion. Add up to 5% essential oil to natural unscented lotion or body cream.
  • In other base oils. Mix with any type of vegetable oil, butter or vegetable wax for a variety of uses.
  • Through evaporation. Simply pour the oil into a jar and let it evaporate into the air.

Aromatherapy can also be used directly by applying the essential oil onto a cloth and holding it near a person’s nose.

Aromatherapy has a wide variety of ways to be used, including baths, evaporating into the air through a diffuser, use in a nebulizer or in a lotion. Rubbing the oil onto the body through a therapeutic massage is one of the most popular methods. The oil can be diluted through the use of other oils, lotions or salt for these massages.

Aromatherapy is an ancient practice with a modern popularity. It can encompass nearly every aspect of a person’s day, from sleeping to bathing, and through scents in the air or on the body.