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The Basics of Aromatherapy

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 16 May 2012 | comments*Discuss
Aromatherapy Essential Oils Carrier Oils

The History of Aromatherapy

Believe it or not, aromatherapy has been around for more than 6000 years. The Romans, ancient Greeks and ancient Egyptians all used aromatherapy oils.

The Romans had a passion for rose gardens and they helped to spread their knowledge of herbs and perfumes throughout the world. We owe England's most famous rose gardens to our legacy from the Romans.

The ancient Egyptians are the first true aromatherapists. They used essential oils in all aspects of their lives from making cosmetics and bathing to embalming.

It was the Greeks who took the Egyptians knowledge of aromatic oils and expanded it to cover their medicinal uses. Hippocrates suggested daily aromatic baths and massages for general wellbeing.

The use of essential oils had virtually disappeared in the 20th century. Aromatherapy as we know it today was developed in 1930. The term then came into use when Maurice Gattefosse began to use essential oils for therapeutic purposes. One day while making perfumes for his family's business, an explosion occurred, during which his hand became badly burned. In sever pain her plunged his hand into the nearest bowl of liquid. That liquid turned out to be essential oil of lavender. He was amazed at how quickly his wound healed, without infection or scarring. As a result Gattefosse turned his scientific attention to the medicinal properties of Essential Oils and their benefits for skin conditions such as skin conditions and healing wounds.

Today aromatherapy is becoming increasingly popular for its two-fold function for healing and wellness.

How Aromatherapy Works

When applied to the skin, essential oils penetrate through the follicles and sweat glands and are then absorbed into the body's fluids. Once inside the body, they have many beneficial effects including:
  • Stimulating the immune system and strengthening against attack
  • Speeding up the elimination of toxins
  • Promoting new cell growth
  • Stimulating digestion
  • Stimulating blood circulation
  • Promoting the body's natural healing processes.

Essential oils also enter the body through inhalation. The microscopic molecules are absorbed into the blood stream as the lungs oxygenate the blood. This makes them excellent for use in baths, vaporizers and even on candles.Aromatherapy also works on an emotional level, helping to calm and sooth the nerves and to promote a healthy sense of balance between the mind and body.

Carrier Oils

Aromatherapy carrier oils are used for mixing blends of essential oils on order to make bath oils or massage oils. They are fixed oils and are mainly extracted from nuts and seeds. Carrier oils should always be cold pressed. This method of extraction ensures that they retain their natural vitamins and therapeutic fatty acids. Most essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil before they are applied to the skin because of their concentrated strength. Popular carrier oils:
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Apricot kernel oil
  • Black seed oil
  • Borage oil
  • Evening Primrose oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Macadamia oil
  • Peach kernel oil

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