Aromatherapy
Fragrant oils have been used for thousands of years to lubricate the skin, purify air, and repel insects. Ancient Egyptians used fragrant oils ...

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Synonyms

Aromatherapy massage, bergamot, Cananga odorata, , Citrus aurantium, clary sage, essential oils, geranium, grapefruit, inhalation, inunction, , lavender vera, Lavendula officinalis, lemon balm, Melaleuca alternifolia, mandarin, , meditation, Melissa officinalis, myrrh, neroli, orange, peppermint, , Roman chamomile, rose, sandalwood, Santalum album, sweet orange, tea tree, vetivert, ylang ylang oil.

Background

Fragrant oils have been used for thousands of years to lubricate the skin, purify air, and repel insects. Ancient Egyptians used fragrant oils for bathing and massage. Essential oils of plants have been used medicinally through application directly to the skin (usually diluted), as a part of massage, added to bathwater, via steam inhalation, or in mouthwashes.

Aromatherapy is a technique in which essential oils from plants are used with the intention of preventing or treating illness, reducing stress, or enhancing well-being. Fragrance oils and products containing man-made compounds are not used in the practice of genuine aromatherapy. Although many gift shops sell scented candles, pomanders, and potpourri as "aromatherapy," genuine aromatherapy treatments use higher strength (concentrated) essential oils drawn from various herbs.

There is no formal training or licensing procedure for aromatherapists in the United States. This technique is offered by a wide range of practitioners with licenses in other fields, including massage therapists, chiropractors, and other therapists.

Fragrant oils have been used for thousands of years to lubricate the skin, purify air, and repel insects. Ancient Egyptians used fragrant oils for bathing and massage. Essential oils of plants have been used medicinally through application directly to the skin (usually diluted), as a part of massage, added to bathwater, via steam inhalation, or in mouthwashes.

Aromatherapy is a technique in which essential oils from plants are used with the intention of preventing or treating illness, reducing stress, or enhancing well-being. Fragrance oils and products containing man-made compounds are not used in the practice of genuine aromatherapy. Although many gift shops sell scented candles, pomanders, and potpourri as "aromatherapy," genuine aromatherapy treatments use higher strength (concentrated) essential oils drawn from various herbs.

There is no formal training or licensing procedure for aromatherapists in the United States. This technique is offered by a wide range of practitioners with licenses in other fields, including massage therapists, chiropractors, and other therapists.

Theory

A variety of mechanisms have been proposed for the reported effects of aromatherapy. It has been suggested that following placement of oil onto the skin, or breathing in fragrant air, the odor-sensing nerves in the nose are stimulated, sending impulses to the limbic system of the brain (a center for processing of emotions). A different theory is that some oils directly interact with hormones or enzymes in the blood, or stimulate the adrenal glands. Scientific research is limited in these areas, and it remains unclear how specific types of aromatherapy may work in the body.

There are more than 100 essential oils commonly used for aromatherapy. These oils are extracted from flowers (rose, narcissus), roots (orris), leaves and needles (eucalyptus, pine), resins (turpentine), seeds (caraway), fruits (lemon, lime), berries (cloves), bark (cinnamon) and wood (cedar). Many are obtained from familiar herbs and spices (basil, anise, nutmeg, cumin, oregano), and many are derived from substances related to herbal medicine (ginger, garlic, St. John's wort).

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