Healing With Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a method of healing that uses concentrated essential oils. These oils are often very aromatic and they are extracted from plants. The constituents that make up the oils will have the perfume that is given off by the particular plant. The essential oils help the plant to complete its cycle of growth and reproduction.
For example, some oils may attract insects for the purpose of pollination; others may cause it to be disliked as a source of food. Any part of a plant - the stems, leaves, flowers, fruits, seeds, roots or bark - may produce essential oils or essences but often only in small amounts. Different parts of the same plants may produce their own form of oil. An example of this is the orange, which produces oils with different properties in the flowers, fruits and leaves.
Art and writings from the ancient civilisations of Egypt, China and Persia show that plant essences were used and valued by priests, physicians and healers. Plant essences have been used throughout the ages for healing - in incense for religious rituals, in perfumes and embalming ointments and for culinary purposes. There are many Biblical references that give an insight into the uses of plant oils and the high value that was attached to them.
Throughout the course of human history the healing properties of plants and their essential oils has been recognised, and most people probably had some knowledge about their use.
Since any part of a plant may produce essential oils, the method of extraction depends on the makeup of the individual plant. The oils are produced by small cells or glands and are released naturally by the plant in small amounts over a period of time. In order to harvest the oils in sufficient amounts, it is necessary to collect a large quantity of the part of the plant needed and to subject the material to a process that causes the oil glands to burst.
Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile and aromatic. They easily evaporate, change and deteriorate if exposed to light, heat and air. For most purposes in aromatherapy, essential oils are used in a dilute form, being added either to water or to another oil, called the base or carrier. The base is often a vegetable oil such as olive oil, which has nutrient and beneficial properties.
It is only in more recent times, with the great developments in science and conventional medicine, particularly the manufacture of antibiotics and synthetic drugs that knowledge and interest in the older methods of healing declined. However, in the last two decades there has been a great renewal of interest in the practice or aromatherapy with many people turning to this form of natural treatment.