The word "Aromatherapy" appears in so many places and on so many products that it is not surprising that many people are very confused about what it really means.
Unfortunately there is no legal definition of "Aromatherapy" 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 “aromatherapy” may imply that the therapy is just about the aromas. But more than just pretty smells, aromatherapy utilises the aromatic components of plants for their healing and health benefits.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils, volatile plant extracts, to promote and enhance the health of body mind and spirit.
It is important to remember that the essential oils used in aromatherapy are all pure plant-based oils. They do not include synthetic oils or fragrances or other aromatics such as incense and 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 in the sense that the effects can be felt on multiple levels – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and energetically. This means that aromatherapy can have benefits for everything from 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, kinesiology and many other fields. Or essential oils being incorporated into other modalities by a variety of practitioners. (To use essential oils any practitioner should have appropriate training - many do; but some do not - we'll cover how to tell in a future blog post.)
Aromatherapy, when practiced as a professional modality, is targeted at an individual’s particular needs, using the detailed knowledge of the therapist to create a unique treatment program. This may include massage or other body treatments or treatments to be used by the client at home.
Of course aromatherapy can also be practiced on a more basic level at home using essential oils in diffusers, inhalers, or in massage or body oils and skin care products. They can even be used for cleaning and other uses around the home.
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