Aromatherapy & essential oils

The Language of Aromatherapy

Using the correct language when explaining and educating the public about aromatherapy is very important. The goal here is help others understand the difference between fragrances and the perfume industry, and aromatherapy as a holistic health modality.

Use the term "aroma" rather than "fragrance" when speaking about aromatherapy. Aroma's are highly emotionally connective and create memories in the brain that are very strongly related to the olfactory sense. Page 10 of the Aromatherapy textbook lists several vocabulary words to help practitioners adequately describe aromatherapy and various aromas.

Holistic Framework

While orthodox Western medicine focuses on the disease, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) focuses on supporting the WHOLE health of the client. There is a holistic framework of practice that helps shape the basis for the practitioner's therapeutic approach.

In aromatherapy there are certain philosophical themes that help create a holistic framework. These themes include the ideas that aromatherapy is:

- stimulates and supports the body’s own natural healing abilities

- encompasses the whole person

- attempts to address the underlying causes of an illness

- is a preventative healthcare approach

- is about educating the client and self on the nature of essential oils and their benefits

- adopts the philosophy of Hippocrates: “First, Do No Harm”

6 Principles of Holistic Aromatherapy

1. Stimulate and support the body's own natural healing abilities: aromatherapy enhances the bodies own natural abilities to heal itself, both in acute and chronic stages of disease.

2. Encompass the whole (individual) person: Mental/Emotional, Body, and Spirit/Energy

3. Address the underlying cause of the disease: aromatherapy seeks to find the imbalances in the body that have led to the manifestation of the disease state.

4. Practice aromacere (aromatherapist as teacher): to practice, experience and share one's own understanding and awareness of the amazing effectiveness of aromatherapy in every day life.

5. Use aromatherapy as a preventative measure: integration of aromatherapy into a whole health lifestyle in order to proactively prevent or reduce the likelihood of the manifestation of disease in the body, mind, spirit.

6. Practice "First, Do No Harm": always practicing aromatherapy with the intent to do more good than harm. This idea is expressed in the selection of essential oils, our understanding of their safety issues, and understanding the client's constitution and individual needs and issues. CLIENT SPECIFIC CARE!

Aromatherapy practiced in this framework allows it to be viewed as a complimentary holistic therapy rather than just a "treatment" approach. It also keeps the practitioner from diagnosing and prescribing (which is NOT in our scope of practice), but rather seeks to compliment the massage therapy and bodywork. Working from the WHOLE body holistic therapeutic approach utilizing bodywork and aromatherapy keeps the practitioner away from focusing only on a specific disease or illness.

Plants as Medicine

"There is virtually no people known to anthropology - however remote, isolated or primitive - in which some form of doctoring with plants was not practiced."

- Green Pharmacy, Griggs

Approximately 80 percent of the world's population still depends on medicinal plants for their primary healthcare, and approximately 20 percent of modern drugs have either been extracted from plants or are synthetically reproduced based upon isolated chemicals from plants.

Methods of Extraction

Essential oils are highly concentrated aromatic extracts that are distilled or expressed from a variety of aromatic plant material including flowers, flowering tops, fruits/zests, grasses, leaves, needles and twigs, resins, roots, seeds and woods.

2 Methods of Extracting Essential Oils

DISTILLATION: produces essential oils and hydrosols

Water distillation (most often used with flowers)

Water and Steam distillation (most often used with herb and leaf material)

Steam distillation (most commonly overall used method)

EXPRESSION: also referred to as COLD-PRESSING and is specific to citrus oils. This method is better for citrus oils, because when distilled, citrus oils tend to break down more quickly, and become unstable.

These methods create genuine and authentic essential oils which are the most potent and effective for use in aromatherapy. In order to achieve optimum results and avoid adverse reactions caused by synthetic additives, always use the most pure essential oils that you have access to.

Created By
Jessica Hutchison


Created with images by monicore - "bottles medicine oils" • photo-graphe - "yoga zen practicing yoga" • kevinlubin - "Plant" • Alexas_Fotos - "lavender bottle plant"

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