Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering one’s mood, cognitive, psychological or physical well being. And, while it’s true that aroma can reach deep down inside of us, and influence us in profound ways, true aromatherapy is far more than just the stress-busting effects of fragrance. It offers a holistic approach to supporting health and wellness, through the powerful therapeutic properties of the aromatic molecules found in pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils.
Three qualities of the oils, working in harmony, give aromatherapy a wide array of unique health benefits: emotionally, physically and mentally.
- Fragrance, through which the power of the aromatic molecules is routed from the olfactory bulb, directly to the center parts of the brain, where they influence hormonal balance, boost the immune system and balance body systems. Fragrance can have direct influence on your emotions and memory, as well, enabling aromatherapy to have a powerful positive influence on almost every aspect of your health.
- Chemistry and the activity or, therapeutic action of aromatic molecules on the cells of the body. There are at least 3,000 known chemical compounds found in essential oils. A fairly simple oil may contain anywhere from 80 to 300 of these; and, an essential oil like lavender or ginger is far more complex. All of these aromatic compounds have scientifically documented therapeutic actions, which work in synergy with one another in any one oil, and can be blended to create specific therapeutic effects.
- Frequency, something like the xi (or chi) of tai chi, xigong or acupuncture, which enables the oils to actually raise the energy levels of your body, to enhance immune function and promote a greater sense of overall health and well-being.
Three Models of Aromatherapy
There are three models or schools of thought in aromatherapy: French, German and English.
- The English model advocates diluting a tiny amount of essential oil in a vegetable oil base (usually at a 1-3% concentration), and massaging the body to produce a relaxing effect and relieve stress.
- The French model prescribes the ingestion of therapeutic-grade essential oils, commonly done by adding several drops of an oil to honey, a piece of bread, or a small amount of vegetable oil, and taking it orally. It also relies on the neat (that is: undiluted) topical application of the oils.
- The German model focuses on the inhalation of essential oils, based on the belief that the effect of the oils’ aromatic compounds on the brain may directly improve the function of many body systems.
Each of these models has its benefits; and, together, they show how versatile and powerful aromatherapy the therapeutic use of essential oils can be.