Aromatherapy is the inhalation of plant oils, called essential oils, for improved physical, mental and emotional well-being. Essential oils are the pure essence of the plant -- often referred to as nature's living energy -- and can provide both psychological and physical benefits when used correctly. Essential oils can be used on their own for aromatherapy or with complementary natural ingredients, such as vegetable or carrier oils.
History of Aromatherapy
The use of aromatherapy actually predates written history. Combinations of resins, oils and fragrant plants were used in some form--for ceremonial, medicinal or pleasurable reasons00in most ancient civilizations. Perfumes and aromatic plants were the basis for many of the early trade routes established among ancient civilizations.
For centuries people have noted the numerous benefits of aromatherapy. Although the practice of aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years, the term was first created in 1930 by French chemist, Rene Maurice Gattefosse. After burning his arm during an explosion in a perfume factory, Gattefosse recognized the healing powers of lavender oil As a result, lavender oil was used to treat injured soldiers during the Second World War.
Aromatherapy Begins in Egypt and Spreads to Advanced Ancient Civilizations
Some of the earliest documented uses of aromatherapy were in Ancient Egypt. There, 3000 year old papyruses have been discovered containing remedies for many types of illnesses; some of the methods of application are similar to the ones used in aromatherapy today. The Ancient Egyptians used aromatic plants and their essential oils to create massage oils, medicines, embalming preparations, skin care products, fragrant perfumes and cosmetics. There are other written accounts of aromatic oil use in Ancient Africa, Mesopotamia, Greece, Babylon and China. In fact, the Chinese Yellow Emperor Book of Internal Medicine, written in 2697 BC, is the oldest surviving medical book in China--it contains information on more than 300 plants and their properties.
The Science of Aromatherapy
When an essential oil is diffused, it's inhaled and processed through the olfactory system, which then sends the therapeutic benefits of the aroma to the brain. Depending on the specific constituents in the oil, you may begin to feel the release of negative emotions, the soothing of undue muscle tension, or experience the cleansing effect of the oils as your body eliminates toxins.
There are two ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy: inhalation and topical application
When inhaling oils for aromatherapy, here are some commonly used techniques:
Inhale essential oils directly--simply smell them straight from the bottle
Diffuse essential oils using a device that disperses the oil into the air in a micro-fine vapor. Young Living Oils offers a line of essential oil diffusers that effectively spreads the aromatic benefits of essential oils through the air without damaging their important constituents.
Use essential oils with a humidifier. Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil on a tissue or small cloth and place in front of the escaping steam. Avoid putting the oil directly into your humidifier, as it will float on top of the water instead of dispersing with the water vapor.
Pour hot water into a bowl and add a few drops of essential oil. Lower your face a few inches over the bowl and cover your head and the bowl with a towel, then breathe deeply and slowly.
Essential oils can be applied directly to the skin. Be sure to read the label before using oils topically, as some oils must be first diluted with a carrier oil--like Young Living's V-6 Enhanced Vegetable Oil Complex--prior to use.
Key areas for topical application are:
Crown of head
Over vital organs
Soles and tops of feet
Steps for topical application are:
Place 2-3 drops of oil in the palm of your hand or directly on the desired area
If placing oil in your hand, rub palms together in a circular motion and then massage oil onto the desired point of application. If applying directly to the desired area, massage the oil into your skin using a circular motion. Repeat as delivered.
Note: Essential oils are very potent and some may be irritating to the skin. If irritation occurs, immediately apply a carrier oil or pure vegetable oil to the area to dilute. Please read label direction for each individual oil before using.