Classified as an alternative medicine, aromatherapy uses essential oils to treat or improve health and well-being.
As its name (aroma and therapy) suggests, the notions of fragrance and treatment are associated and essential oils form the basis of aromatherapy. Be careful not to confuse aromatherapy, which uses essential oils, with herbal medicine, which uses all the parts of a plant.
Aromatherapy is used in a huge variety of ways, but the most common uses are:
- Health (antiseptic action, relief from coughs, headaches, sinusitis, digestive problems, insomnia, etc.)
- Well-being (essential oil baths, massages, etc.)
- Cosmetics (beauty products)
- Hygiene for indoor areas (cleaning, purification)
A salutary effect: Aromatherapy is also used to calm the mind and relieve anxiety. In some hospitals, nurses trained in aromatherapy treat their patients using the benefits of essential oils, including their anti-nausea and pain relief properties which help them to relax.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils in different ways depending on the specific properties of each oil (steam inhalation, massage, diffusion / scent therapy).
Essential oils used in aromatherapy
The oils are fragrant and volatile essences extracted from aromatic plants. Obtained by steam distillation, they come in a highly concentrated, liquid form. Although they feel oily, essential oils do not contain any fatty substances, unlike vegetable oils. They leave no marks on paper as they dry. Essential oils are soluble in oil and alcohol, but not in water.
They are relatively expensive because it takes large quantities of plants to obtain them (5 tonnes of petals for one litre of rose essence).
Did you know? References have been found in the writings of the ancient Greeks to the use of aromatic extracts used in the form of fatty unguents.