Aromatherapy: Healing using Essential Oils

Monday, 20. July 2015

Aromatherapy: Healing using Essential Oils

Fragrances affect people in many ways. They provide a good mood, have a stimulating effect and are relaxing. Scents trigger emotions and even pharmacological reactions, which can be scientifically researched. Doctors also use these when treating patients. But what is behind aromatherapy?

History

The knowledge of the effects of fragrances is quite old. The Sumerians, Egyptians and the ancient Chinese used scented essences. Most of these were used in the form of incense for therapeutic or ritual purposes.

The term " aromatherapy " was coined by the French chemist and perfumer René-Maurice Gattefosse. In 1910, he was burned on the scalp and hands in a laboratory accident. He treated his wounds with lavender oil and noted that this healed his wounds quickly, leaving no scars. This aroused Gattefosse's interest, who then started his research of essential oils and their effects. Soon he only occupied his time with the medicinal properties of essential oils. His books, in which he used the term "aromatherapy", influenced virtually all later users.

Today, the therapeutic effects of essential oils are proven in studies. However, individual oils are difficult to compare to one another, therefore the number of these effects are very small. Even if these oils come from the same manufacturer, their chemical composition always varies.

Even so, aromatherapy has been used for decades as a complementary medical method in the treatment of wounds, infections, etc. The types of applications are very diverse: oil burners, compressors, inhalation, an additive in baths, massage oil, medicine, and so on. 

The effect of essential oils is a result of the contained monoterpenes. These are present in plants as phytochemicals and penetrate through the cell membrane, which is why they are detectable in the blood after only a few minutes.

The Correct Application

It is important to not using essential oils very sparingly. They should never be used undiluted.

  • Fragrance lamps (oil burners) are often used incorrectly. The essential oils should be diluted with water and the fragrance lamps should not burn throughout the day. This can cause headaches.

  • Fragrances should only be used for the therapy and in consultation with a doctor in regard to allergy suffers. If not, the unwanted risks may increase. 

  • An oral use may be recommended only in consultation with a doctor.

  • Essential oils should not be used undiluted on the skin. This can lead to irritation or even burns.

The effect also depends on the correct dosage. Here are a few dosage recommendations:

  • Fragrance lamps (oil burners): about five drops, several times a day

  • Scent bowls: depending on fragrance, use between one and six drops, two to three times per day

  • Damp/moist applications: three to four drops

  • Compresses: one to three drops

  • Bathrooms: for full baths, use five to ten drops, otherwise only half the dosage