- 1 What Is Aromatherapy?
- 2 How Essential Oils Are Made
- 3 WHAT CAN ESSENTIAL OILS BE USED FOR?
- 4 AROMATIC COMPOSITIONS
- 5 DIFFUSERS
What Is Aromatherapy?
Let me start this article with an invitation. An invitation to travel back in time with me, and uncover amazing facts about aromatherapy and the use of plants and flowers. The term “aromatherapy” is relatively new. This concept was introduced by the French perfumer Rene Maurice Gattefosse in 1928 for the first time. But the beneficial properties of essential oils were known to people centuries ago.
Plants from which essential oils are obtained were known and used by man for medicinal and cosmetic purposes for millennia before the invention of technology for the extraction of essential oils.
Healing, cleansing, analgesic properties, the ability to improve the mood, calm the body and soul and not to mention the fragrant aromas — this is not a complete list of the advantages of natural aromatic oils, with which humanity is familiar with for more than five thousand years.
All major civilizations have contributed to the birth of aromatherapy. More than 6,000 years ago, the medicinal properties of plants were discovered in China. However, it is believed that the origin of aromatherapy is owed to the Egyptians. Bottles of oriental incense were found in ancient Egyptian tombs, proof that five thousand years ago a man was familiar with these plants and used essential oils for various purposes.
Aromatic oils were used by priests for embalming, in religious rites, in addition to medicinal purposes. Myrrh, frankincense, and cedar were the most revered plants in religious rituals. Sesame and almond oil with the addition of myrrh and other aromatic substances were used for cosmetic purposes for body care.
For therapeutic purposes, incense could be used for diseases of the nervous system, cypress for the lungs and anti-inflammatory ointments prepared from thyme.
Ointments, pastes, pills and other medical preparations, as well as candles, incense balls and powder were made from plant and animal substances. Despite the fact that the process of distillation of essential oils was not known, Ancient Egyptian tombs were found with jars of cosmetics, ointments, bottles of oil, as well as records of the imported oils of cypress and thuja.
Presumably, these oils were obtained not as a result of distillation, but by the pressing method, since there is no mention of distilled oils.
Ancient China, Greece
Aromatic herbs and massage oils are also widespread in China. Approximately 2700 BC Emperor Shen-Nung compiled “the great herbalist”, which is considered the earliest reference book, which describes 365 plants with medicinal properties.
The ancient Chinese claimed that the smells of plants contained magical powers, aromas that were able to strengthen human energy and eliminate all diseases. Aromatic oils were widely used in perfumery as well.
The ancient Greeks attached great importance to the healing properties of plants. In his works, Hippocrates described a variety of medicinal plants and presented the theory of treating diseases through the help of aromatic oils. Daily aromatic baths and massaging was the way to health, Hippocrates claimed.
For the treatment of many diseases, he used rose oil. During the plague, he advised burning conifers on the streets, given their anti-bacterial properties. The Greek physician Toofrast first noticed that the oils applied externally affected the internal organs. He then advised utilizing these oils for medical purposes, by applying the oils using plasters and dressings.
The inventor of the method of distillation of essential oils is considered to be the famous Persian doctor Avicenna (980-1037).
His first time attempting distillation, he received a pink essence. He perfected the primitive distillation method by folding the cooling tube with a coil, which enhanced the effect of the steam condensation process and the production of the essence. He described more than 800 plants, their properties and effects on the human body. In the 12th century, the crusaders brought Eastern incense to Europe, as well as methods of their preparation.
Development of Perfumery in Europe.
Perfumery art was then beginning to develop in Europe. Instead of aromatic Oriental resinous trees, Europeans started using thyme, rosemary, lavender, and many other plants. During the 15th century, the products of European perfumers were widely used to avert diseases and eliminate odors.
By the 17-18th century, perfumery was developed in France, where perfume, soap, cosmetics, and other toiletries were produced. Especially popular were the bottles of smelling salts and bags of aromatic powder used for the laundry. The evolution of chemistry continued, during the 18th and 19th centuries, chemists began to obtain more complex substances from plants, such as morphine, caffeine, quinine, and atropine. The production of synthetic, more effective drugs began. The popularity of aromatherapy began to decline. The use of aromatics and herbs had been drastically reduced.
The Development of Aromatherapy in the 20th Century.
A new round of development of aromatherapy began in the 1920s. Through studying the therapeutic actions of essential oils, chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefoss obtained strong burns on his hand. Lowering the injured hand in a container of lavender oil, the French scientist was surprised to notice that the pain almost immediately subsided. Later, the wound also did not fester and quickly healed, leaving no scars.
Following this, M. Gattefoss devoted his life to the study and application of essential oils in the treatment of skin diseases. The scientist first introduced the term “aromatherapy” and published a book on this topic. This began a new stage in the evolution of aromatherapy. Further development of aromatherapy was largely contributed by Dr. Jean Walne and beautician/biochemist Marguerite Maury.
Because of the many negative side effects that occurred when taking synthetic drugs, there was an increasing interest in aromatherapy; the benefits of which had been tested for thousands of years. Due to the wide range of therapeutic and cosmetic actions, essential oils again became increasingly popular.
Aromatherapy is used to correct the physical and emotional state of the human body. This method is very effective because essential oils are concentrated substances. They are absorbed very quickly into a bloodstream and have a tremendously beneficial effect. Microparticles enter the body on a molecular level, beginning the chemical reaction and results in positive changes to the internal organs, improving all processes of the life.
In dictionaries and Wikipedia aromatherapy is referred to as an alternative type of medicine. This is partly true, as the term literally means ” fragrance treatment.” However, in ancient times, scents and extracts were actively used for ritual purposes for purifications and meditations. The most popular were essential oils, which were used for occult practices and in everyday life (for example, for disinfection of premises during wet cleaning).
Today, aromatherapy is an integral part of alternative medicine, and in cosmetology, it is often combined with spa treatments. The properties of aromatherapy are:
- Pharmacological action (chemical interaction with human enzymes and hormones
- Physiological action (stimulation, relaxation)
- Psychological action (some odors cause changes in emotional state).
France and the Middle East countries, led by Morocco, are most advanced in aromatherapy and essential oils. They have a whole Institute with its gardens and access to raw materials. Essential oils are valued much more when the plant, fruit or flower is grown local to where it’s extracted, as opposed to when raw materials are brought from another country. That’s why many people don’t understand why the same variety of products have different prices.
How Essential Oils Are Made
Oils are derived from plants, mainly parts such as peels, leaves, barks, flowers, and roots. The purpose of essential oil manufacturing is focused on utilizing oils for a variety of purposes, including healthcare, beauty treatments, and food preparation.
There’s more to know about essential oils than just the parts of a plant the oils come from. For one thing, there are two methods to obtain oils, through cold pressing or distillation, which can be done with water or steam. After successfully extracting the oil, it’s combined with carrier oils so you can use it as soon as you receive your oil. Bear in mind that with essential oil manufacturing, you want to know how the oil is made, as it’s unlikely to be considered a proper essential oil if a chemical process was used.
WHAT CAN ESSENTIAL OILS BE USED FOR?
Depending on the oil components, they have different properties.
- Antiseptic oils have disinfectant and antibacterial properties are obtained from tea tree, chamomile, sage, and eucalyptus
- Refreshing oils have a positive effect on the nervous system and brain activity — mint, pine, and cypress perfectly cope with it. Want to learn more about anxiety click here
- Spicy oils have a warming effect and can help get rid of colds, raising vitality – ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, cardamom, and cloves
- Flower oils have exquisite aromas that relieve depression, treat headaches, soothe, pacify and can cheer you up. Is there anything more beautiful than the luxurious aroma of rose, geranium, iris, marigolds, and lavender?
- Citrus oils strengthen the immune system and help to restore strength. With a whiff of these scents, you’ll feel the desire to live and do what you love – orange, clementine, lemon, bergamot, and grapefruit
- Herbal oils are perfect for massage and rubbing, as they are known for their healing properties
- Wood oils of patchouli, myrrh, incense, ylang-ylang, cedar, vetiver also mobilize the body’s strength, improving the function of the heart and blood vessels, giving strength and increasing endurance.
Essential aromatic oils give us all the most valuable things in nature!
Aromatic oils combined with each other result in therapeutic compositions. This is a special art, as well as making flowers in a bouquet, because many flavors may conflict with each other. A good combination of aromas gives a stunning effect not only for the body but for the soul.
What works great is a trio of mint, incense, and basil — this aromatic composition balances the psychic state, providing strength and increasing self-confidence. Eucalyptus and lavender restore strength, filling the heart with peace, giving the inspiration to live. Rose and lavender treat insomnia, help to survive severe & stressful situations, giving harmony, joy, and bliss.
Patchouli and sandalwood harmonize aura, restores energy, enhances intuition and bring peace of mind. The perfect combination of ginger, tangerine, and cypress gives a person the ability to overcome obstacles, relieves fatigue and dissipates sadness, melancholy, and apathy.
It is no coincidence that the folk healers of the past called ginger oil, “giving strength.” Another harmonious combination of oils is cedar, patchouli, and juniper, which increases energy vibrations of a person, assists concentration and gathering thoughts for decision-making.
By the way, evergreen and floral aromas combine ideally in unison, especially with rose, lavender and juniper, the most refined, exquisite elegant oils. The tenderness of rose and lavender is successfully shaded by the brightness of juniper, and these smells give joy, peace, and love.
There are three main types of diffusers for spraying essential oils: spraying, ultrasonic and thermal. Each diffuser has its own unique method of disclosure of essential oils using their therapeutic benefits.
How to choose which diffuser is best for you?
To help you decide, I have analyzed the operating principles of each diffuser and described the pros and cons associated with their use.
The spray diffuser splits the essential oil into small particles using high-speed, compressed air flow and jet nozzle. When the essential oil is released from the diffuser, it enters the air as a light mist. With this method, the chemical composition of the essential oil does not change. The diffuser dissipates all the oil at once (not first the more volatile components, but after the heavier ones, as in evaporative diffusers).
Pros: Spray diffuser do NOT use heat or water, rather it sprays the essential oil directly into the air to obtain the full therapeutic benefits.
Cons: Nebulizers are often the most expensive diffusers you can use. This is due to the complexity of the mechanism. Because these diffusers are used exclusively to spray pure essential oils, they require more oil than diffusers that use water.
This is the most popular type of diffuser that uses water and ultrasonic frequencies. The spray creates a thin mist of essential oil and water. Ultrasonic vibrations are created by a small disk under the water surface, which causes the essential oil added to the diffuser to split into tiny microparticles and rise into the air.
Pros: Ultrasonic models use a small amount of essential oil and heat. This type of sprayer can be used as a diffuser for essential oils and as a simple humidifier. This is very convenient if you live in a dry climate or use heating devices in the room.
Cons: Only a small part of the cold vapor emitted by the diffuser is essential oil. The correct dispersion of the oil is influenced by the original atmosphere in the room. This type of diffuser may not be suitable for those who live in a place with high humidity.
As their name suggests, thermal diffusers use heating elements to allow the essential oil to gradually evaporate into the air. Sometimes they can use oil mixed with water. Some heat diffusers use fairly strong heat to induce a more saturated aroma of the essential oil. However, the best heat diffusers will use low heat to avoid sudden changes in the chemical constituents of the oils to be dispersed.
Pros: The use of a heat diffuser is an economical, but effective and silent way to spread the fragrance throughout the room.
Cons: The heat used can change the properties of the essential oil at the molecular level. This means that the therapeutic benefits of the oil can be reduced or completely changed.
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UNDERSTANDING THE BACKGROUND OF ESSENTIAL OIL MANUFACTURING