The word Aromatherapy was coined by a French chemist, Rene Gattefosse in 1926 but its fragrant healing connotations recall an antiquity beyond Cleopatra's Egypt.
Apart from their pleasing aromas, essential oils are valued equally for their potent therapeutic and cosmetic properties. Aromatherapy is perhaps the most luxurious treatment for mind and body.
Ancient Art Aromatherapy has a long history. The Egyptians had a sophisticated understanding of aromatic oils. Translations of hieroglyphics found in ancient tombs and temples reveal aromatics were used to treat a variety of illnesses. They also used the essential oils for embalming, for creating perfumes for the pharaohs and for scenting the temples during religious ceremonies.
Therapeutic properties that essential oils possess are numerous, making them useful for treating many of our most common health and beauty problems. A large number of pure essential oils have natural anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties.
Dr Jean Valnet a French medical expert on Aromatherapy, writes at length about some of the most remarkable feats that essential oils can perform. He says that a simple solution of thyme essential oil in water at a concentration of only 5% of the oil can kill dysentery bacillus in two minutes.
Plant essences offer a wide range of therapeutic properties:
- Lavender or rosemary can be used to soothe or stimulate the nervous system,
- tea tree to speed wound healing,
- juniper to detoxify the system,
- ylang-ylang to lower blood pressure,
- eucalyptus to relieve asthma and fennel to regulate hormones - just to name a few.
Essential oils are useful in treating stress-related problems, ranging from tension headaches, insomnia, and certain skin disorders. We rarely realise how the fragrances which surround us affect the way we feel.
We perfume our bodies and scent our rooms with fresh flowers because they, give us intense pleasure. We never stop to wonder why. The reasons for this response are - yet unclear, but it is known that odour molecules are perceived by, thousands of tiny, nerve cells in the nose and these nerves are connected to that part of the brain which is concerned with emotional drive, creativity, and sexual behaviour. That is why, certain perfumes will make us feel happy, and unpleasant smells such as petrol fumes, can induce depression.
- Toni McMahon