Aromatherapy is the inhalation and bodily application of essential oils from aromatic plants to relax, balance, rejuvenate, restore or enhance body, mind and spirit. Aromatherapy’s pure essential oils are extracted from many parts of the plant including the flower, leaf, resin, bark, root, twig, seed, berry, rind and rhizome. Aromatherapy can be used to strengthen the immune system and aid in the self-healing processes for both emotional and physical disorders.
Essential oils and phytoncides work in different ways. At the scent level they activate the limbic system and trigger emotions. When applied to the skin, as in the form of massage oils or baths, they activate thermal receptors and kill microbes and fungi. Internal application of essential oil preparations may stimulate the immune system and may have antiseptic activity. Different essential oils have very different activity and are studied in pharmacology and aromachology.
Aromatherapy offers many therapeutic effects including: antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, calming the central nervous system, combating insomnia, metabolic benefits, enhancing memory, and various psychological benefits. Fragrances can have a relaxing effect measured as an increase in alpha brain waves.
Aromatherapy is sometimes used in clinics and hospitals for treatment of pain relief, including labor pain and pain caused by chemotherapy, and for the rehabilitation of cardiac patients. Aromatherapy is among the fastest growing fields in alternative and holistic medicine.