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True aromatherapy isn’t just the "smell good" stuff you can buy at your local grocery or drug store. It's actually considered to be a form of holistic alternative medicine.

So what is aromatherapy? It's a technique that uses the body’s sense of smell to help boost your mood, relieve stress, energize and encourage better health. It's also used to treat certain emotional and physical conditions.

For example, peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils are mentally stimulating. They can help you to maintain a clear focus. Lavender and chamomile have the opposite effect. If you're feeling stressed or anxious, these two refreshing scents will help you relax.

The History of Aromatherapy

The history of aromatherapy is reputed to date back as far as 6000 years, although the term aromatherapy ("aroma" meaning fragrance, and "therapy" meaning treatment) wasn’t coined until the 20th Century.

The ancient Chinese, Greeks, Romans and Egyptians all used aromatherapy oils.

The ancient Egyptians used plants for religious rituals; it was believed that certain smells could raise higher consciousness or promote a state of tranquility. They used the fragrant oils from plants (essential oils) for embalming. As time went on, the Egyptians continued to refine their use of aromatics in medicine, cosmetics, incense and perfumes.

The ancient Chinese were using some form of aromatherapy at or around the same time as the Egyptians. They used herbs and burned aromatic woods and incense to show their respect to God. The oldest surviving medical book in China, (dated around 2,700BC and written by Shen Nung, contains cures involving over three hundred different aromatic herbs.

The Greeks continued the use of aromatic oils. They used them for medicines and cosmetics. Hypocrites (400 BC), who was commonly known as the "Father of Medicine", was the first to study essential oils' effects. He believed that a daily aromatic bath and scented massage would promote good health.

It was during the 19th century that scientists in Europe began researching the effects of essential oils on bacteria in humans.

Rene Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist, began research into the healing powers of essential oils in the early 1900's after he accidentally burned his hand in his laboratory. On reflex, he immersed his burned hand in the closest liquid which happened to be lavender oil. He was quite impressed by how quickly the burn healed without infection and with no visible scar. Gattefossé is credited with coining the word "aromatherapy".

The late 1970's / early 1980's brought about the use of essential oils and aromatherapy as a major part of alternative and holistic healing across the world.

Aromatherapy doesn't just smell good, it also benefits you in many ways. Some aromatherapy benefits that are more commonly known include:

  • Relaxation and stress relief

  • Mood enhancement, balance and well being

  • Relief of minor discomforts

  • Boosting the immune, respiratory and circulatory systems

Essential oils are the heart of aromatherapy. They have been used to:

  • Heal wounds

  • Improve skin tone

  • Regulate hormones

  • Relieve menstrual cramps

  • Stimulate the immune system

  • Decrease sinus & lung congestion

  • Relieve tension headaches

  • Energize

  • Relax muscles

  • Reduce inflammation

  • Improve sleep

  • Kill fungal & bacterial infections

  • Aid digestion

  • Aid blood circulation


How does it work?

As scents are inhaled, the smell travels across the olfactory nerves located inside the nose and then up into the part of the brain that controls our moods, our memories and our ability to learn. This area is called the Limbic System and when stimulated it releases endorphins, neurotransmitters and other 'feel-good' chemicals.

What all of that means is that smells have a subtle way of effecting your mind and emotions.

Just think of the way you feel when you sniff the scent from a fresh bouquet of flowers versus your reaction when you smell something not so fresh like garbage or burnt toast. A big difference right?

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