Aromatherapy is a branch of the alternate medicine approach that uses herbal remedies to improve an individual's health and appearance and to alter one's mood. The alleged benefits from aromatherapy range from stress relief to enhancement of immunity and the unlocking of emotions from past experience. The concept has ancient roots but is primarily used today by the cosmetics, fragrance, and alternative-medicine industries.

The proponents of aromatherapy claim that the tools of the trade, such as wood-resin distillates and flower, leaf, stalk, root, grass, and fruit extracts, contain antibiotics, antiseptics, hormones, and vitamins. Some proponents go even further and have characterized the essential oils, which are volatile, aromatic, and flammable, as the soul or spirit of plants. One of aromatherapy's promises is that the essential oils have a "spiritual dimension" and can restore "balance" and "harmony" to one's body and to one's life. One of its principles is the "doctrine of signatures," which claims that a plant's visible and olfactory characteristics reveal its secret qualities. For example, the violet suggests shyness so the proponents conclude that the scent of violets engenders shyness and modesty. Aromatherapy encompasses topical application of essential oils, bathing in water containing essential oils, sniffing them, or actually ingesting them. Products supporting this concept include shaving gels, aftershaves, facial cleansers, bath salts, shower gels, shampoos, hair conditioners, body masks, moisturizers, sunscreen preparations, lipsticks, deodorants, candles, lamps, diffusers, pottery, massage oils, massage devices, and jewelry such as lockets and pendants for carrying essential oils.

The most common aromatherapy applications are aesthetic, where a sense of well-being is derived from enjoying perfumes, scented candles and baths, and other fragrances. At the opposite end of the spectrum is medical aromatherapy, also known as aromatic medicine, which includes massage therapists, naturopaths, some nurses, and some medical doctors. The alleged beneficial effects are numerous: essential oil from bergamot normalizes emotions; essential oil from roses or sandalwood increases confidence; essential oil from eucalyptus alleviates sorrow, and oil from patchouli creates a desire for peace. Eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil have been used to treat respiratory diseases. But it is conceded that some oils can be harmful. Concentrated oils from cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger can burn the skin and ingestion of oil from pennyroyal can cause miscarriages. One of the obvious applications of aromatherapy involves the sense of smell, and one researcher believes that the lack of ability to smell is correlated with a gain in weight. Others believe that the ability to smell or even the ability of the body to produce certain odors indicates certain diseases or impairments. If this proves to be true, it would be an interesting diagnostic tool.

The concept behind aromatherapy is accepted in parts of Europe. For example, in France, medical students are taught how to prescribe essential oils, and in Britain, hospital nurses use aromatherapy to treat patients suffering anxiety and depression and to make terminal-care patients more comfortable. Dorene Peterson, principal of the Australasian College of Herbal Studies, commented, "There is a philosophical difference between hard-core science and the approach that believes there's vibrational energy that's part of the healing process. Alternative medicine is offered now in quite a number of medical schools. I think a lot of hard-core scientists and doctors who have been trained in the data-oriented scientific approach are realizing there's more to heaven and earth than we really know about." However, she admits that empirical evidence is necessary for widespread acceptance. In the United States, there are no legal standards concerning the education in aromatherapy, or the certification or occupational practice of aromatherapy. Several nonaccredited organizations offer short courses or correspondence courses, but no accredited educational institutions offer majors in aromatherapy. It is safe to say that aromatherapy remains outside the mainstream of medical therapy, but it is well ensconced in the cosmetic area.

Aromatherapy Can Change Your Life

Aromatherapy Can Change Your Life

Everything you ever wanted to know about How Aromatherapy Can Change Your Life. We have been discussing Aromatherapy the ancient healing art and what it can do to change your life.

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