Aromatherapy is the exact art and subtle science of the practice of using volatile plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being.
Essential oils, the pure essence of a plant, have been found to provide both psychological and physical benefits when used correctly and safely. Absolutes, CO2's and Hydrosols are also commonly utilized in aromatherapy. Although Essential oils, CO2 extracts, Hydrosols and Absolutes are distilled by different methods, the term essential oil is sometimes used as a blanket term to include all natural, aromatic, volatile, plant oils including CO2's and absolutes.
In addition to essential oils, aromatherapy encourages the use of other complementary natural ingredients including cold pressed vegetable oils, jojoba (a liquid wax), hydrosols, herbs, milk powders, sea salts, sugars (an exfoliant), clays and muds.
Products that include synthetic ingredients are frowned upon in holistic aromatherapy. It is important to note that perfume oils also known as fragrance oils (and usually listed as "fragrance" on an ingredient label) are not the same as essential oils. Fragrance oils and perfume oils contain synthetic chemicals and do not provide the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.
Inhaling Essential Oils
Essential oils that are inhaled into the lungs offer both psychological and physical benefits. Not only does the aroma of the oil stimulate the brain to trigger a reaction, but when inhaled into the lungs, the constituents (naturally occurring chemicals) supply therapeutic benefit.
Essential oils that are applied to the skin are absorbed into the bloodstream. The constituents of essential oils can aid in health, beauty and hygiene conditions. Essential oils are typically diluted into a cold pressed vegetable oil, also known as a carrier oil. Common carrier oils include sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and grapeseed oil.
In addition to therapeutic benefit at the emotional and physical level, essential oils are helpful in other applications. Essential oils can be used in household and laundry cleaners. Some act as a natural insect repellent and pesticide, some are strong anti-septic.
Essential Oil Blends
Essential oils can be blended together to create specific therapeutic application. Essential oils that are carefully blended with a specific therapeutic purpose in mind may be referred to as an essential oil syngery. A synergistic essential oil blend is considered to be greater in total action than each oil working independently.
About Aromatherapy Products
Not all ready-made aromatherapy products labeled with the word aromatherapy are pure and natural. Products that contain artificial ingredients do not provide true aromatherapy benefits. At worst, they provide no benefit and can be harmful. At best, they provide only a fraction of the benefit that natural products supply. Buyers seeking true aromatherapy products must look at the ingredient label to ensure that the product does not contain fragrance oils or chemical components. A general rule-of-thumb is to be wary of products that do not list their ingredients and those that do not boast of having pure essential oils. Some sellers of good-quality aromatherapy blends do not list their ingredients because they are worried that others may copy their creation. By asking more about the blend, and listening to how they respond, you should have a better idea about the quality of the blend being sold.