Aromatherapy 101

Have you ever wondered, just what’s this aromatherapy thing all about? Well, although the term “aromatherapy” is relatively new, humans have been using scents as a way to increase well-being for centuries.

To understand why humans use scents to create and increase well-being, we need to take an abbreviated look our olfactory sense or our sense of smell. Our olfactory sense is one of our most complex and sensitive physiological systems. It’s estimated that humans can process, recognize and remember up to 100,000 different smells. In our nasal cavities, we have thousands of olfactory nerve cells with nerve endings that carry the scent messages directly to our brain. In addition to being able to access memories and remind us of the first time we smelled something, our sense of smell directly and immediately affects the central nervous system.

The use of aromatherapy can be traced back more than 5,000 years. Ancient Egyptians burned incense made from aromatic plants in order to honor their gods. They believed that the rising smoke would carry their prayers directly to the gods. In addition to incense, the Egyptians used aromatic herbs, spices and oils in religious ceremonies, in medicine and in daily life. Greeks and Romans also applied the use of aromatic substances for healing. Hippocrates used aromatic fumigations to rid Athens of the plague.
Today, we use aromatherapy to enhance our lives on many levels: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It’s used to assist in strengthening the body and help to bring our whole being into harmony by affecting the mind and body concurrently.

Essential oils are the natural (vs. laboratory-made, chemical), fragrant and highly concentrated constituents of plants. Essential oils can be extracted from the leaves, stems, berries, flowers, roots, fruit, peels or wood from various plants. There is a plethora of aromatherapy essential oils and just as many uses for them. Today, we use essential oils to scent massage oils, bath products, soaps perfumes and cosmetics. We can use them to scent cleaning products and to help banish germs, mold, bacteria and fungi. We can also use them to scent our environments through the use of diffusers and candles. One note of caution, essential oils are highly concentrated and should not be used undiluted on the skin.

One of the most popular and loved essential oils is lavender. It’s used to relax, calm, tone, refresh and cleanse the body and mind. It’s a highly versatile oil that can ease tired muscles, balance head tension and soothes sensitive skin.

Peppermint is another popular oil. Although commonly used as a flavoring in foods, it is used to diminish headaches by rubbing the diluted oil on the forehead, back of neck and temples. Peppermint oil has been used to treat everything from asthma to stomach problems.

There are several websites dedicated to aromatherapy education. To learn more about aromatherapy, the wide variety of essential oils and their uses, I suggest www.aromaweb.com


Check out TNT Nutrition Center’s vast assortment of Aura Cacia aromatherapy products, where they are 40% off retail prices.

Sources: Serene Aromatherapy – Aromatherapy Defined; Aromatherapy and the Olfactory System
Holistic Online – History of Aromatherapy
Quintessence – The History of Aromatherapy; About Essential Oils

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One Response

  1. I love lavender oil for bruises…my son is in fencing and always comes home with pokes and bruises and the lavender oil cuts down on the pain and duration of the bruise. Tea Tree oil is great for bug bites this summer too.

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