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What is Aromatherapy

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of naturally extracted aromatic plant essences to support health and wellness.  Essential oils, the most widely recognized aromatic essences, are used in traditional, alternative and complementary therapies.  Aromatherapists use essential oils as part of a holistic approach to health and wellness that recognizes the mind-body connection.  Taking care of yourself through exercise, nutrition, social support and proper medical care and simply treating yourself well all work together to your benefit.  Based on the therapeutic properties of each essential oil, appropriate use can support you through health issues and the pleasant fragrances contribute to a sense of well-being.

What are essential oils and how can they help?

Essential oils are distilled or expressed aromatics extracted from plants.  Oils can be comprised of over 200 individual chemical components.  Chemical components are important because they determine the behavior, therapeutic properties and aroma of essential oils. There are 10 primary chemical families with generalizations that can be made about each.  For instance, monoterpenes (ex: citrus oils) are great airborne deodorizers and can be decongesting; aldehydes contain antifungal properties, are anti-inflammatory and cooling.  Essential oils may have components from many chemical families or may contain components that are primarily from one chemical family.  Aromatherapists understand these chemical components and are trained in their effective use.

Methods of Delivery

Essential oils can be delivered to your body through inhalation or topical application.  They can be added to a room diffuser, steamy shower, aromatic sprays, foot soak or bath salts, nourishing jojoba or other carrier oils and lotions, convenient and discreet nasal inhaler. There are different styles of jewelry and sports wrist bands designed to safely hold essential oils so they are not in direct contact with skin.  The purpose of the essential oil blend as well as personal preference play a role in determining which delivery method is most appropriate.

Appropriate aromatherapy can help support you in many ways.

  • Sleep support
  • Cold & flu symptoms
  • Allergy season
  • Joint pain
  • Sore muscles
  • Belly issues
  • Bruising
  • Headache pain
  • Stress and anxiety
  • So much more….

Essential Oil Quality

Terms such as ‘therapeutic grade,’ ‘medical grade’ or ‘pharmaceutical grade’ are not regulated nor defined and are used as a marketing tool.  For essential oils to be therapeutically effective, they must be pure and of high quality. By “pure” we mean a lack of adulteration by synthetic fragrance oils or other contaminants and that the oil in the bottle is the same as that listed is on the label.  Adulteration is an increasing issue as demand increases for these often limited resources.  Adulterated oils are less effective and have the potential to cause skin sensitivity, headaches and other symptoms often associated with synthetics.

At a minimum, essential oil labels should contain the common name of the plant from which the oil was extracted, the botanical name, country of origin, method of extraction (ex: steam distilled, absolute, CO2 extraction or cold-pressed), lot number or other tracking method as well as any required precautionary statements.  Suppliers should be able to provide a GC-MS (Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry) analysis that shows the chemical components contained within the oil.  These reports also help validate the source plant, country of origin and therapeutic properties and can help identify adulteration.  GC-MS cannot identify most pesticides and herbicides.  Hence the need to use organic oils or those extracted from crops grown without sprays or synthetic treatments.

Safety & precautions

Essential oils come with safety precautions.  With very few exceptions, oils should not be used ‘neat’, without proper dilution.  Care must be taken with children, the elderly and those who have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications.  Some oils can make you more sensitive to the sun or the light used in tanning booths.  Additional information can be found on the Essential Oil Safety information sheet in your client packet.