Aromatherapy is the systematic use of essential oils in holistic treatments to improve physical and emotional well-being. Essential oils, extracted from plants, possess distinctive therapeutic properties, which can be utilised to improve health and prevent disease.
These natural plant oils are applied in a variety of ways:
Massage (the most widely used method)
Baths (add a few drops to warm water)
Inhalations (not for asthmatics)
Aromatherapy is an especially effective treatment for stress-related problems and various chronic conditions.
More information on aromatherapy can be found at www.aromatherapycouncil.co.uk.
About Essential Oils
An essential oil is an aromatic substance extracted from a single botanical source by distillation or expression. These oils have been utilised in fragrances, flavours and medicines for thousands of years.
There are some 400 essential oils currently being extracted from plants all over the world. Some of the popular oils used in aromatherapy today include chamomile, lavender, rosemary and tea tree.
Supporting Evidence and Research
Many researchers have shown that when applied to the skin or inhaled, essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream and metabolised in the body. Clinical trials have shown that when applied topically, some essential oils, including Tea Tree oil, have antibacterial and [antimicrobial/antiseptic] properties2 and that peppermint oil may optimise/maintain a healthy digestive system3.
There are many studies that demonstrate essential oils can positively affect mood and the sense of well-being. According to Buckle4, “studies suggest that essential oils … induce mood change”. Essential oils also impact on brain wave activity, creating either stimulating or relaxing effects.
References for the above:
Preen, C. (2005). Today’s Therapist (35) (2-4) substantiated by Aromatherapy Science, Pharmaceutic
Press 2006 Chapter 7 p78.
Hay et al. (1998). Arch Dermatol, 1998, 134:1349-1352.
Stevensen, C. J. (1996). Fundamentals of CAM, Churchill Livingstone 1996: 137-148.
Buckle, J. (1999). Alternative Therapy Health Med. 1999(5) 42-051.