Aromatherapy: Therapy that engages your sense of smell

Aromatherapy: Therapy that engages your sense of smell
Aromatherapy aims to improve one’s psychological and physical well being through the use of aromatic plant oils, aroma compounds, and essential oils. The practice of Aromatherapy has ancient roots going back to early civilisations in China, India, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Aromatherapy can be used in conjunction with other therapy methods or more standard medical practices.

Aromatherapists apply their aroma compounds through three main methods, namely, aerial diffusion, direct inhalation or topical application. Aerial diffusion is applied by fragrancing the environment around the patient with specific scents. Direct inhalation occurs when a patient inhales the aroma to heal respiratory problems and to aid decongestion. Topical applications in aromatherapy occur when a fragranced solution is applied through massages, compresses or baths.

The Aromatherapists use a wide variety of materials as tools for healing. Absolutes are one such tool and can be described as fragrances extracted from plant tissue or flowers. Aroma lamps are used by Aromatherapists to diffuse fragrances into an environment. These lamps can be electric or candle-based and heat the fragrance with a mixture of water to spread its scent throughout an area.

Essential oils are a vital Aromatherapy tool. These oils are distilled from plants through steam distillation and are often used to fragrance rooms with burning incense reeds. Finally, herbal distillates are the watery by-products of the distillation process. Well-known herbal distillates include lemon, chamomile, and rose distillates. 

Aromatherapy is said to reduce anxiety and pain, increase short-term memory and energy, reduce skin irritations like eczema, and promote hair growth.

However, some scientists have found that Aromatherapy comes with risks. Adverse effects of aromatherapy are often due to the strong and highly concentrated nature of essential oils, which can irritate the skin. If plants used in aromatherapy have pesticide treatment, this can also cause chemical irritation to patients. Some essential oils, such as that of eucalyptus, are naturally toxic when internally ingested, which makes them a dangerous substance to have around the home if children or pets live on the property.