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"Living is about capturing the essence of things. I go through my life every day with a vial, a vial wherein can be found precious essential oils of every kind! These priceless, aromatic oils are the essence of my experiences and my thoughts.”   ~C. JoyBell C.


Aromatherapy is one of the fastest growing natural healing arts around the world. Simply stated, aromatherapy is using essential oils for healing. Essential oils are volatile oily substances; they are highly concentrated plant extracts that contain hormones, vitamins, antibiotics and antiseptics. In a way, essential oils represent the spirit, the soul of the plant. They are the concentrated form of herbal energy. They are contained in tiny droplets between the cells and play an important role in the biochemistry and natural defense of a plant.


Aromatherapy is used for fragrance and medicinal purposes. In Europe, where it began more than 70 years ago, it is practiced by a variety of medical and other health professionals. It is taught to medical students in France, and is used by some English and American doctors and nurses. Extensive clinical research is underway in Europe and the Americas.


The Birth of Aromatherapy


The term “aromatherapy” was first coined in 1928 by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist working in his family’s perfume business. He became infatuated with the therapeutic possibilities of essential oils after discovering by accident that lavender was able to heal a severe burn on his hand quite rapidly, and help prevent scarring.


Another French doctor and scientist, Dr. Jean Valnet, used essential oils as part of a program in which he successfully treated specific medical and psychiatric disorders, the results of which were published in 1964 as Aromatherapie.


The work of Valnet was studied by Madame Marguerite Maury, who applied his research to her beauty therapy. Her aim was to revitalize her clients by creating a ‘strictly personal aromatic complex’ which she adapted to the person’s temperament and particular health problems. “Hence going far beyond any simple esthetic objective, perfumed essences when correctly selected, represented many medicinal agents.”


In some respects, the word aromatherapy can be misleading because it suggests that it is a form of healing that works exclusively through the sense of smell, and on the emotions. This is not the case. Apart from its scent, each essential oil has individual combination constituents that interact with the body’s chemistry in a direct manner, which then affect certain organs or systems as a whole.


For example, when the oils are used externally in the form of massage treatment, they are easily absorbed via the skin and transported throughout the body. This can be demonstrated by rubbing a clove of garlic on the soles of the feet; the volatile oil content will be taken into the blood and the odor will appear on the breath a little while later. Different essential oils are absorbed through the skin at varying rates.


This information shows us that is important to recognize that essential oils have three distinct modes of action with regard to how they interrelate with the human body: pharmacological, physiological and psychological. The pharmacological effect is concerned with the chemical changes that place when an essential oil enters the bloodstream and reacts with the hormones and enzymes etc.; the physiological mode with the way in which an essential oil affects the system of the body, whether they are sedated or stimulated,etc.; the psychological effect takes place when an essence is inhaled, and an individual responds to its scent. On the first two points, aromatherapy has much in common with the traditional medical herbalism of phytotherapy – in other words, it is not simply the aroma that is important but also the chemical interaction between the oils and the body, and the physical changes that are brought about.


As a general rule that is in line with the present-day aromatherapy ‘code of practice”, it is best to use essential oils as external remedies only. ~ Excerpted from Essential Oils Desk Reference





It is important to use caution when using essential oils. They should not be used as a treatment method on their own without consulting your physician first. You may have an allergic reaction, such as a skin rash, to certain oils, so it is important to do a skin test on a small area first.

Who should avoid aromatherapy?

  • Pregnant women, people with severe asthma, and people with a history of allergies should only use essential oils under the guidance of a trained professional and with full knowledge of your physician.
  • Pregnant women and people with a history of seizures should avoid hyssop oil.
  • People with high blood pressure should avoid stimulating essential oils, such as rosemary and spike lavender.
  • People with estrogen dependent tumors (such as breast or ovarian cancer) should not use oils with estrogen like compounds such as fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary-sage.
  • People receiving chemotherapy should talk to their doctor before trying aromatherapy.

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