Aromatherapy is the ancient science of healing, relaxing and energizing by the use of plants and their parts. The roots, barks, flowers, fruits, seeds and nuts play a crucial part in this science. It is one of the more popular branches of alternative medicines. The word aromatherapy is derived from two words aroma which means smell and therapy which stands for healing.
Little to no significant scientific research has proven any combination of cause/effect solutions from aromatherapy aside from relaxation and clarity of mind, all considered similar to that of a nap or pause in conscious thought. Aromatherapy is also associated with astrological pseudoscience, and bases its medicinal beliefs on the alignment of stars, among many other aspects, to prescribe certain olfactory therapies. In truth, any odour can be considered a therapy by aroma, or aromatherapy.So in my openion, this type of Therapy should always be applied alongwith the modern scientific medication for curing a desies. This might speed up healing effect.
Some of the materials employed include:
Essential oils: Fragrant oils extracted from plants chiefly through distillation (e.g. eucalyptus oil) or expression (grapefruit oil). However, the term is also occasionally used to describe fragrant oils extracted from plant material by any solvent extraction.
Absolutes: Fragrant oils extracted primarily from flowers or delicate plant tissues through solvent or supercritical fluid extraction (e.g. rose absolute). The term is also used to describe oils extracted from fragrant butters, concretes, and enfleurage pommades using ethanol.
Phytoncides: Various volatile organic compounds from plants that kill microbes. Many terpene-based fragrant oils and sulfuric compounds from plants in the genus “Allium” are Phytoncides, though the latter are likely less commonly used in aromatherapy due to their disagreeable smells.
Hydrosols: The aqueous by-products of the distillation process (e.g. rosewater). Hydrosol used are limited to plants such as rose and chamomile since most hydrosols have unpleasant smells.
Infusions: Aqueous extracts of various plant material (e.g. infusion of chamomile)
Carrier oils: Typically oily plant base triacylglycerides that are used to dilute essential oils for use on the skin (e.g. sweet almond oil)
The basis of aromatherapy is the Essential oil Oils extracted from different plants and their barks and flowers.. These oils are the extracts of plants and their parts and form their life force. These oils are extracted by the means of steam distillation, cold expression, or fixed oil or alcohol extraction. They are highly concentrated and should not be used directly. These oils can be blended together and this blend is called synergy. The synergy is more potent than the individual oils combined. To reduce the potency of these oils, you can dilute them by mixing them with carrier oils.
These oils affect your mood. They enter through our olfactory system and affect the nervous system, thus improving mood and relaxing or energizing us. This helps is alleviating stress and speeding up healing. Most of these oils also have cosmetic properties and can be used in skincare and hair care products. Many of these oils have known anti-viral, antifungal and antiseptic properties. They are also used in household products for cleaning and antiseptic uses. These oils can be inhaled, massaged onto your body, added to the bath or shower or sprayed in the room.
When aromatherapy is used for the treatment or prevention of disease, a precise knowledge of the bioactivity and synergy of the essential oils used, knowledge of the dosage and duration of application, as well as, naturally, a medical diagnosis, are required.
In the Anglo-Saxon world, among alternative practitioners such as herbalists or naturopaths, aromatherapy is regarded as a complementary modality by some and a pseudoscientific belief by most others.
On the continent, especially in France, where it originated, aromatherapy is incorporated into mainstream medicine. There, the use of the anti-septic properties of oils in the control of infections is emphasized over the more “touchy feely” approaches familiar to English speakers. In France some essential oils are regulated as prescription drugs, and thus administered by a physician. In many countries they are included in the national pharmacopeia, but up to the present moment aromatherapy as science has never been recognized as a valid branch of medicine in the United States, Russia, Germany, or Japan.
Essential oils, phytoncides and other natural VOCs work in different ways. At the scent level they activate the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. When applied to the skin (commonly in form of “massage oils” i.e. 1-10% solutions of EO in carrier oil) they activate thermal receptors, and kill microbes and fungi. Internal application of essential oil preparations (mainly in pharmacological drugs; generally not recommended for home use apart from dilution – 1-5% in fats or mineral oils, or hydrosoles) may stimulate the immune system.
(Help taken from:……http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aromatherapy and http://www.aromatherapies.net/)