Aromatherapy is one of the fastest growing alternative therapies. It is used in homes, therapy rooms, clinics and beauty salons all over the country. Nurses trained in aromatherapy are using essential oils in hospitals as pain relief for women in labor. Many more are using them in hospices and hospitals for cancer patients, and in many more areas of patient care. Scientific investigation has begun to prove the efficacy of this centuries-old treatment and it is being embraced by the medical profession as a therapy that complements orthodox treatment.
Industry too, is poised to reap the benefits of essential oils. In Japan, engineers are incorporating aroma systems into new buildings. In one Japanese bank, for example, the essence of lavender and rosemary is wafted through the customer area in order to calm any waiting customers, while stimulating fragrances of lemon and eucalyptus are pumped behind the counter to try and keep the staff alert.
So What is Aromatherapy?
The word aromatherapy means “treatment using scents”. It refers to the use of essential oils in holistic treatments to improve health and emotional well-being and restore balance to the body. Essential oils are aromatic essences extracted from plants, flowers, trees, fruit, bark, grasses and seeds with distinctive therapeutic, psychological properties, which improve and prevent illness. Around 150 essential oils have been extracted, each with its own unique scent and healing property. All essential oils have valuable antiseptic properties, Some have particular ones that make them antiviral, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, antidepressant, and expectorating. Others are stimulating, relaxing, aid digestion or have diuretic properties.
In fact, all the properties, and none of the side effects, of tailor-made drugs occur naturally in plants and their benefits are extracted through essential oils. These pure oils are usually extracted by steam distillation, but other methods, such as solvent extraction, effleurage, and expression can be used. The sources of the oils can be commonplace or rare and exquisite and this is evident in the price. For example, it takes approximately 100kg (220 lbs) of lavender to yield 3kg (6 1/2 lbs) of oil so lavender oil is fairly cheap., but it takes approximately eight million jasmine flowers hand-picked at dawn to yield just 1kg (2 1/4 lbs) of oil. Not surprisingly, pure jasmine oil is very expensive. To get their optimum benefits, essential oils must be extracted from natural, raw ingredients and remain as pure as possible. Synthetic copies simply do not work.
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