Aromatherapy is one of the alternative therapies to treat people suffering from different ailments. It is totally natural. In this therapy, treatment is done by using oils of some useful plants for psychological and physical well-being. Essential oils are pure essence of plants, which give positive effect to the body only when they are used correctly and safely. There are many different definitions are given by different people like
â€˜Aromatherapy conveys the concept of healing with aromatic substances.â€™ by Robert Tisserand
â€˜Aromatherapy is â€¦ the skilled and controlled use of essential oils for physical and emotional health and well-being.â€™ by Valerie Cooksley
Aromatherapy can be explained as an art or science of using extract of plants in order to balance, promote and harmonize the health of mind, body and spirit. It really helps person not only for the treatment but to maintain, regulate and give power to the body. It gives relaxation to the mind, body, and soul. Aromatherapy not just uses the extract of plants but also uses other natural ingredients like cold pressed vegetable oils, hydrosols, jojoba (a kind of natural wax), herbs, sea salt, different types of clays and mud. Some times people get confused by fragranced oils, as these types of oils are different from aromatherapy oils. Fragranced oils contain some synthetic substance which will not give the effect of essential oils.
What is Essential Oil?
One main ingredient of Aromatherapy is Essential Oil. Essential Oil is nothing but the oil extracted from the leaves, flowers, stems, roots, barks and other parts of the plants. This is the liquid distilled with water or steam for the use. This oil does not have the oily feeling but it carries the essence or fragrance of the plant.
Modes of application
In aromatherapy, essential oils are usually not used in their original concentrated form. They are diluted with some carrier substance. This carrier substance can be oil, water, vegetable oils and creams.
Inhalation: Inhalation therapy by essential oil can be done by inhaling the fragrance directly or indirectly with the help of devices like vaporizer. This vaporizer is used to convert the liquid to gaseous form of oil for inhalation. This is the easiest way for oils to enter your body.
External application: External application can be done by massaging the essential oil on the skin or adding essential oils to a warm bath. While absorption is done through massaging, and then essential oils are diluted with other oils called carrier oil.
Few essential oils might prove to be hazardous for our health. Thus, taking advice of the practitioner would be preferable.
Safety tips before using Essential Oil
Few things that should be kept in mind before using any essential oil:
What is Carrier Oil?
Carrier oil is also known as Vegetable oil or Fixed Oil or Base Oil, which is derived from the fatty portion of a plant like seeds, kernels or the nuts. This oil is used to carry essential oil into our skin. If essential oil is used undiluted then it can irritate our skin. All vegetable oils are not fixed or base oil. As fixed oils derived from animal oil like Emu oil from Emu bird and fish oil from fish are not vegetable oils. And it is to know that animal oils are not used for aromatherapy. Usually, carrier oil has mild, sweet and nutty aroma. Sometimes they are odorless. But if it has strong and bitter smell then it has gone rancid.
What are Hydrosols?
Hydrosols are also popular as flower or floral waters. These are essentially the by-product of the distillation process used in obtaining pure essential oils. Hydrosols are nothing but the 'waste waterâ€™ of the distillation process and these are not oils. Thus, it might certain qualities of essential oils.
Pure hydrosols have healing therapeutic properties like essential oils. Thus, they are found to be used in skin care. Many fake hydrosols are often found in the market. A perfect example of fake hydrosol is jasmine. Fake oils are used to save the high cost of production of essential oil and hydrolat.
What is Fragrance Oil?
Fragrance, or perfume, oils are very popular for the small businesses and hobbyists. But unfortunately, they do not have any healing property like essential oil. They are purely synthetic. These oils are highly used in the perfume industry due to its aroma.
Distinguishing between fake and pure essential oil and hydrosol is very difficult. But with the proper research and learning, it becomes easier to identify pure essential oils and hydrosols.