The effects of aromatherapy involve curing and soothing and each aroma has its own role to play.
The practice of Aromatherapy can be traced back to all the major ancient civilisations of the world. Aromatic plants played a major role in the healing arts of early mankind. The early mankind learnt through observation and experience when plants were eaten by sick animals and how eating certain parts of a plant helped in alleviating the symptoms of an ailment. How some plants had an adverse effect and how some other plants could be toxic for us. This highly priced information was passed down from one generation to the other together with new discoveries and innovations. All this knowledge put together is the herbal medicine we know today.
From earlier times Incense sticks were burnt in front of the deities. The early man also knew that burning leaves and twigs from different parts of the plants gave different effects.Some were uplifting, some were sedating some were cleansing and yet others were harming. Some plants had antibacterial properties which were burnt at the time of an epidemic.
During the modern era, natural plant based healing led to the recognition of modern Aromatherapy. In the 1920's a French chemist, Renne Gattefosse had a laboratory accident, he plunged his arm into some lavender essential oil. The miracle healing proved to be a wonderful experiment of the healing properties of essential oils. This further led him to research more on the effects of various essential oils and also coined the word Aromatherapy which was up until now a part of a wider study that is Phyto Therapy that is plant medicine.
Gattefosse's experiment was furthered by another French scientist Dr.Jean Valnet who treated the first world war soldier's wounds with essential oils. He also found out that essential oils showed great benefit while treating psychiatric patients which demonstrated their emotional and psychological healing properties.Madame Marguerite Maury pioneered the use of aromatherapy for beauty therapy and revitalization therapy demonstrating the healing powers of aromatherapy in Beauty as well.
In today's modern age we can say Aromatherapy is a healing art which uses essential oils that are extracted from plants, herbs, trees, flowers etc. One or more essential oils can be blended with a base oil that is a cold pressed nut, fruit or vegetable oils. These blends are used to give therapy either by way of massage or application. Essential oils can also be used on their own but only while diffusing.
Each essential oil has an affinity to different organs of the body. For Example, Eucalyptus heals respiratory problems while peppermint can impart a lot of benefit to the digestive system similarly rose oil helps with the reproductive system. When essential oils are massaged into the skin or inhaled through the nose their molecules get absorbed into the blood stream and reaches the organ it has an affinity to and imparts healing effects.
There is an area in the brain sitting between the conscious and the subconscious mind which we call the limbic system. The limbic system houses the thalamus which is responsible for sensory integration. This means that everything we see, hear, touch, smell and taste is registered in the thalamus and the whole picture is put together. This is necessary for us to respond to the outside world. Sensory integration is the very beginning of the psychological reaction that then leads to the physical reality.
After emotional integration, we then have hormonal integration. Hormonal integration necessarily involves the pituitary gland which is the master gland of the body which is responsible for all the functions of the body. The pituitary is also situated near the thalamus. Everything we think can be transferred to a physical reality via the link of the thalamus and the pituitary. This holds true when we inhale essential oils. The pituitary or the master gland gives out a signal to our hormone system to function in a particular manner. This is the way essential oils help us physiologically. Thus psychological effect manifests itself our physical being.
The essential oils are variedly priced starting from Rs.1,500/- per kg for Eucalyptus to Rs.15,00,000/- per kg for pure Rose Damasc. The price may sound too high but it is less in comparison to the effort in plucking 5000 pounds Rose petals in dew light and steam distills it at a specified low pressure and temperature to produce 1 pound of pure Rose Damasc oil.
This article has been authored by Rupal Shabnam Tyagi, Founder, Wikka- Potions for Aromatherapy.