As a Certified Aromatherapist, I find it amazing how many products on the market today advertise that they provide “aromatherapy.” It’s really very unfortunate that corporate advertising agencies bank on the lack of knowledge most people have on this subject. Just because it smells good, doesn’t mean it’s providing aromatherapy in the true sense of the word.
I do have a bit of expertise in this area and at the risk of sounding like an aromatherapy snob, let me take a few minutes to enlighten those of you who truly want to know if the scent is of therapeutic benefit of not.
The actual word, “Aromatherapy,” was not used until 1928 when a French chemist, Maurice Gattefosse coined the term following an accident. Gattefosse, who was working in his lab, experienced severe burns on both hands after an explosion. He immediately massaged pure lavender oil on his hands for relief. He noticed how his hands healed quickly and with very little scarring and thus began researching the therapeutic benefits of essential oils in plants. He is known as the “Father of Aromatherapy.”
But what is Aromatherapy, and why does it work? Aromatherapy, quite simply means natural healing using the essential oils of fragrant plants to achieve mental, emotional and physical well-being. Only the pure essential oils of plants can be used to achieve the therapeutic benefits of true Aromatherapy. The essential oil is the purest part of a plant, known to Aromatherapists as the “life force” of the plant. Aromatherapy can very simply be thought of as “nature’s first medicine.” Before we had pills, capsules and injections, man used nature’s medicines via Aromatherapy.
Certified Aromatherapists will tell you, if the oil is diluted or mixed with anything other than pure ingredients such as water or other natural oils then it is not therapeutic and the price should be adjusted accordingly. Many products use alcohol, preservatives and other fillers. These adjuncts dilute and sometimes erase the therapeutic benefits of pure essential oils. The essential oil of a plant is the pure essence of that plant, and it often times takes many, many pounds of a single plant to yield just a few ounces and that is why some essential oils seem so very expensive. The bottle of bath oil, selling for $2.99, may state on the label “pure roman chamomile,” but chances are there are probably just a few drops in the entire bottle and just enough to give off a roman chamomile fragrance.
If you have questions or comments about aromatherapy, please post them here. I plan to write several articles on the different essential oils and their therapeutic benefits.