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What is Aromatherapy?

The word “Aromatherapy” appears in so many places. And on so many products. So it is not surprising that many people are very confused about what it really means.

Unfortunately there is no legal definition of this word. So sadly this is not likely to change in the near future.

So what exactly is “Aromatherapy”? Is it more than just something that smells good?

The word may imply that the therapy is just about the aromas. But this therapy is more than just pretty smells. In fact, it uses the aromatic components of plants for their healing and health benefits.

Definition: Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils, volatile plant extracts, to promote and enhance the health of body mind and spirit.

Elements of Aromatherapy

It is important to remember that the essential oils that used in aromatherapy are all pure plant-based oils. They do not include synthetic oils or fragrances or other aromatics such as incense. And it does not include many products on the market that use the word aromatherapy to denote any product that smells good – even if there are no therapeutic benefits. (Look out for more information about essential oils in future blog posts.)

Another feature of aromatherapy is that it is a holistic therapy. This means that the effects can be felt on multiple levels. Including physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and energetically. This also means that it can have multiple benefits. These may includebefiting physical ailments, to mental and emotional effects and more.

For this reason, aromatherapy sits alongside other modalities very well. So you may see aromatherapists who also practice in massage, naturopathy, nursing, midwifery or kinesiology. And a variety of other practitioners may also incorporate essential oils into their own modalities. (To use essential oils any practitioner should have appropriate training. Many do; but some do not. We’ll cover how to tell the difference in a future blog post.)

Aromatherapy, as a professional modality, targets an individual’s particular needs. It uses the detailed knowledge of the therapist to create a unique treatment program. This may include massage or other body treatments. Or perhaps treatments the client can use at home.

Of course you can also practice aromatherapy on a more basic level at home using essential oils in diffusers or inhalers. Or use them in in your massage or body oils and skin care products. You can even use them for cleaning and other uses around the home.


There are many ways of using aromatherapy to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. Look out for future posts with more information about the many ways you can use essential oils.