The Art of Aromatherapy

| by Dr. Lynda Torrey, under Wellness

 

Essences. . .

Are powerful tools reconnecting body, mind and spirit.  They promote deep relaxation.  It is in this state that the body’s own regenerative forces are nourished and reinforced.  Consciousness is best perceived through the senses of smell and touch.  Remember the experience of the musky essence of a newborn baby’s skin, the velvety softness of the baby’s face.  Recall the scent of newly mown grass, the essence of a fragrant red rose and the velvet of its petals, apple pie baking in the oven, a pine forest growing from the deep, rich earth of a mountain.  As we proceed on our holistic journey, recall and embrace the aspects that unite us with the plant kingdom.

WHAT IS AROMATHERAPY?

Aromatherapy is the art and science of using essential oils for therapeutic use.  When we employ essential oils in treatment, we experience them as an aromatic delight in addition to the positive physiological effects achieved by topical application.  “Aromatherapie” as coined in 1928 by French perfume chemist,  Rene’ Maurice Gatefosse’, has three primary categories of use:  1) general aromatherapy – the therapeutic use of essential plant oils treating dysfunction symptomatically; 2) holistic aromatherapy – the use of essential plant oils to bring about balance in one’s being, taking into account our current state (body, mind and spirit); 3) clinical aromatherapy – a branch of medicine practiced by physicians in France.  It is the use of specific essential oils selected for their therapeutic properties.

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL OILS AND WHAT ARE THEIR PROPERTIES?

Essential oils are volatile, plant hormones, which are termed phytohormones, and are found in different parts of a plant’s anatomy.  They can exist in the seeds, leaves, branches, wood, bark, roots, berries, flowers, sap, needles and peels.  Due to this similarity between plants and people, our bodies are able to recognize and assimilate essential oils for therapeutic use.  Each essential oil has a unique and specific chemical constituency, which allows for creativity in application and blending.  Due to this individuality in composition, some essential oils may be more efficient for respiratory situations, circulatory stimulation, mental clarity, skin care and the list goes on and on.  There are certain properties that all essential oils have, which include hydrating/remineralizing, oxygenating, detoxifying (you must have increased hydration and oxygenation to create a detoxifying environment), anti-viral, antiseptic, and anti-bacterial.

Although all essential oils have these qualities, due to the molecular structure and chemical composition, they each have their area of efficiency.  For example, red thyme, due to its high phenol content, is one of the most anti-bacterial substances on the planet.  Lavander is called the “universal” essential oil due to its balance of organic constituents.  The chamomile family is soothing, sedating and hydrating.  There are as many examples as there are essential oils.

HOW ARE THEY USED AND WHY?

There are many methods of usage of essential oils, which include massage, skin care, inhalation (aromatic), poultice and compressing, hair care, nail care, environmental uses, spa therapies and ritual uses.  Essential oils have been in existence since man first discovered the medicinal use of plants and, in fact, all modern pharmaceuticals are based on these plants.

From a holistic perspective, when integrating aromatherapy into our practice and our lives, we are viewing the human being as a whole organism that is inter-related and integrated with every system contained within the physical structure, as well as our external environment.  Homeostasis, the being’s innate ability to bring balance to the system, plays a major role in the concept of aromatherapy.  When we use essential oils we are dealing with the alchemy of creation.  We are dependent upon plants in every facet of our existence; the air we breathe, the foods that we eat, as well as the energy that we use for metabolism and emotion/spirit balancing.  There is a definitive and altruistic relationship between plants and people.  After all, we are made up of the same atomic structure, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  From the physical perspective, essential oils used for the legs and digestive system (our root) are derived from the root or lower trunk of the plant.  We use essential oils extracted from the leaves and branches for the upper body.  For the head, brain and nervous system, as well as the emotion/spirit aspect, we use the flowers.

 
 
 
 
 
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