Aromatherapy uses aromatic substances called essential oils to treat a wide variety of physical and emotional ailments. The essential oils, which are primarily taken from plants, are usually inhaled, rubbed on the skin or used in a bath.
In some cases, the essential oils are ingested or injected. Among the many essences used in aromatherapy are basil, bergamot, black pepper, camphor, cedarwood, chamomile, fennel, frankincense, hyssop, jasmine, juniper, lavender, melissa, patchouli and rose.
Proponents argue that aroma therapy is useful for treating acne, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, burns, colds, constipation, depression, diarrhea, fever, flu, gas, headaches, herpes, indigestion, insomnia, memory loss, nausea, poor circulation, premenstrual tension, skin problems, stress, toothaches, wounds and other problems.
About 4,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians were using fragrantoils to heal the mind and body. Closer to our Common Era, the Greeks used oils from plants as medicines. Roman soldiers carried lavender with them as they conquered the known world, using the plant to disinfect wounds. Various plant oils were used throughout the Middle Ages for many mental and physical diseases and for treating wounds.
Aromatherapy began to be systematized in the sixteenth century by William Turner, who classified plants by their effects on the body. By the end of the eighteenth century, 13 standard preparations had been described in an aromatherapy text. However, the rapid advance of chemistry and pharmacology in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries swept aromatherapy aside.No one quite knows how aromatherapy works.
There are several theories, including:
Once the mainstay of ancient Egyptian medicine, and for centuries a major part of many traditional healing systems, aromatherapy is slowly making its way into Western medicine. There is, however, no standardized course of training for aromatherapists; indeed, no training of any sort is required for people to call themselves aromatherapists. Neither are there widely accepted treatment protocols, so treatment will vary from practitioner to practitioner. Many chiropractors, acupuncturists, masseuses and other therapists are incorporating aromatherapy into their practices.