Aromatherapy originated as a term in 1928 by Gattefosse, who was a chemist working in his family’s perfume business in France. By accident, he used some lavender to help heal a burn on his hand and this led him to investigate the therapeutic qualities of the essential oils rather than for their use in perfume. Another scientist and doctor, Dr Jean Valnet, studied and recorded his use of essential oils in his patients. He published his findings in 1964 in his book, Aromatherapie. There have been many others who have researched aromatherapy and how essential oils can affect the body chemistry and systems by entering the blood stream and interacting with hormones and enzymes to produce a therapeutic effect.
These effects can be physiological and psychological and essential oils work best in a blend as they work synergistically to bring balance. Essential oils can be applied to the skin in a base carrier oil or cream (not directly) or inhaled using a vaporiser. Aromatherapy combined with massage or reflexology treatments are truly relaxing. Essential oils can also be used in a compress for aches and pains or in the bath (diluted in a carrier or they will evaporate quickly). Blends can be created for various issues such as problem skin, insomnia, IBS, irritability, anxiety and many others.
The olfactory (smelling) system is linked to the limbic system in the brain which controls emotions and mood. Different scents evoke memories and responses (think of freshly cut grass and bread baking or the smell of the sea). We tend to be drawn to some essential oils and not others and this response is entirely individual. Aromatherapy can benefit mood and provide an uplifting, energising or relaxing and calming response.
Some Essential oils can be contra-indicated in certain medical conditions and in pregnancy. A full medical history is taken prior to creating a blend for the client..