Aroma Therapy 101
A beginners look at Aroma Therapy
Today, more and more of us are seeking simple, safe, and natural alternatives. I am of Native American heritage and my interest is in using natural alternatives, such as aromatherapy, to complement conventional medicine. I feel the old ways should not be forgotten. After all, the old ways play a large role in today's medicine.
Essential oils are not magical or mystical things and as with all herbal medicine, aromatherapy assists the body in balancing itself in order for healing to take place, and for a state of wellness to be maintained. It is a good thing that we all try to walk in balance with ourselves and the world around us.
In the world as we know it, modern medicine is needed to and extent, but sometimes it is mis-used. While aromatherapy can be used as a primary tool for healing, it should not be viewed as a replacement for medical/surgical treatment or diagnosis. Rather, it is a complementary therapy, which can assist your body during the healing process. It embraces holistic healing through lifestyle enhancement, natural prevention, and botanical medicine. The key to success in healing everyday common ailments is found in prevention and early treatment. Be patient with the more chronic ailments. Those ailments, which have existed for a long time, usually take longer to remedy. Please do not try to treat a serious condition on your own, but consult a physician.
What better way to improve our health, appearance, and the environment around us, than through the sensual "scentual" natural pleasures of aromatherapy?
"The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them."
Only nature can produce whole essential oils. They are tiny droplets contained in glands, glandular hairs, sacs, or veins of different plant parts: leaves, stems, bark, flowers, roots, and fruits. They are the "essence" of that particular plant form. They are responsible for giving the botanical its unique scent and "fingerprint." When you brush against your rosemary bush in the garden, or sniff a rose in your neighbor's garden, you experience the essential oils being released into the air. Essential oils are volatile, which means they turn from a liquid to a gas very readily at room temperature or higher. They aren't oily at all, but rather a water-like fluid. Rupture of the essential oil glands, or simply heat exposure, will help release these natural, memory-evoking, volatile scents.
This is one of the reasons why we experience more fragrances in the summer than in the winter. Obviously there are fewer plants blooming in winter, but also because the weather is so much colder, and the air denser, molecules are moving at a slower rate and the essential oils are less likely to evaporate. This makes it more difficult for us to pick up their scent.
Essential oils are highly concentrated forms of the plant part in which they were derived; however, the oils can also change composition and location from one part of the plant to another. Take the Orange Tree, for example. Neroli oil is obtained from the blossoms, orange oil from the citrus fruit itself, and petitgrain essential oil from the leaves of the tree.
To give you an idea of how potent these oils are, consider this: one drop of essential oil equals about thirty cups of herbal tea in terms of concentration. When you make a cup of chamomile tea by pouring boiling water over the dried herb, and letting it steep, you are extracting miniscule amounts of the essential oil present in that herbal tea along with water-soluble constituents. Sometimes these oils can be 75 to 100 times more concentrated than the fresh herb. This is one reason why they should be used with caution and knowledge of their potency.