A Beginners Guide To Aromatherapy

When we are ill or suffering from a physical ailment, our first port of call will almost certainly be a medical practioner. Since the advent of modern medicine, the human body has become much more understood and life expectancy has extended as a result. Back in the middle ages, we had no choice but to rely on the local alchemist to attempt to cure us of all our ills.

Fortunately these days science is extremely precise and we can get an accurate diagnosis and treatment for just about any medical condition.

However more and more people are turning to aromatherapy as opposed to traditional methods. It was in 1907 that it first came onto the scene, pioneered by a select group of European doctors and scientists.

Aromatherapy is an alternative form of medicine which uses what are known as essential oils derived from volatile plant materials as well as other specific aromatic compounds. The notion behind their use is that they are attributed with being able to improve a person’s health by improving their mood. Whilst there has been much scepticism from the medical fraternity as to the actual scientific merits of aromatherapy, there seems to be no doubting its effectiveness.

Aromatherapy in itself is a blanket term used to describe any therapies that utilise essential oils. These oils can be inhaled or they can be applied in the form of a massage. Where the oils are inhaled, it is said that the aroma stimulates the part of the brain that controls emotions and memories. The process generally makes the person feel relaxed and stimulated after certain chemicals are released. Massages work to relax the person through touch as the oils are applied directly.

The use of essential oils is said by aroma therapists to have positive pharmacological effects on the body. They generally claim that there is a direct synergy between the oils and the body.

There are three main types of applications of aromatherapy.  The first is ‘Ariel Diffusion’ where the oils are evaporated and subsequently permeate the air which gives a specific fragrant ambience. It can also work to disinfect the immediate atmosphere for an enhanced medicinal effect.

Another application method is ‘Direct Inhalation’ whereby the patient or client actually breathes in the essential oils which will act as a decongestant as well as being beneficial to respiratory ailments. This method is particularly renowned for having extremely positive psychological effects.

Finally the method which many people will identify with is the ‘topical approach’ which is utilised in massages and therapeutic baths. This method specifically focuses on the skin and muscles to soothe the entire body and mind.

There are many different types of aromas which will be used in the practice of aromatherapy. One of the most popular is jasmine which is said to have aphrodisiac properties. Eucalyptus will be used to relieve cold and flu symptoms.

Lavender is another important aroma which is used to relieve migraines and help people suffering form insomnia.

Lemon oil is used to actively enhance a person’s mood and eradicate the propensity for depression.

Your first aromatherapy treatment will usually involve the therapist asking you specific questions about your medical history as well as your diet and lifestyle. They may also advise you to inform your GP that you will be having the treatment.

There are no specific risks in having aromatherapy whether you have it done professionally or use home based products. However you do have to take extra care if you suffer from any type of skin complaint or suffer from asthma or hay fever. You should also be particularly careful if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

Despite claims made by some aromatherapists, you should never substitute the treatment for legitimate medical care.


Nathan Parsons is a freelance writer and graphic designer, currently working in partnership with SpaceNK.