Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Is Aromatherapy?

What is Aroma Therapy?

Aromatherapy: it's in the air! Simple aroma oils distilled from botanical can make the body feel better, boost the spirits, and ease the mind. Whether applied in a massage, used in a fragrant bath, or sprayed, these gentle, effective aroma therapies provide pleasing alternatives to synthetic based aroma's.

Aromatherapy:  The use of volatile plant oils, for skin care, psychological and physical well-being.

Aroma-therapy is the use of essential oils extracted from whole plants for whole people. Aroma or smell therapy, when inhaled the natural chemicals enter the ol factory system, and from there it is processed in an area of the brain call the brain stem. The brain stem travels from your head down the spine, visualize a tree the stem is the trunk and the branches are pathways leading to our limbs, and connect to organs. The brain processes the natural chemicals (essence) and delivers them to the nine systems in our body. Each system regulates the body to function correctly and remain healthy.

The Benefit of Physical Application

Oils, are applied to the skin and absorbed to the blood stream thru our sweat glands and hair follicles. The components of the various oils are believed to aid in a variety of health, beauty and hygiene conditions. Essential oils molecular structure is so tiny they can travel quickly and efficiently, an example would be applying essential oils to your feet, they will travel throughout your entire body within minutes.

The Benefit of an "Aroma"

Just smelling an essential oil can uplift your spirits and make you feel better. This is because the sense of smell is interrelated to an area of the brain which is primarily concerned with emotion and memory. The essence of essential oils is believed to offer whole body, holistic benefits.

BREATHE EASY - Eucalyptus, Fir, Pine
DREAMTIME - Tangerine, Lavender, Eucalyptus
ENERGY BOOSTER - Rosemary, Bergamot, Peppermint
FEEL GOOD - Lavender, Geranium, Lemon, Ylang-Ylang
HARMONY - Lavender, Geranium
IMMUNE BOOSTER - Sweet Orange, Eucalyptus, Juniper, Pine, Ginger
JET LAG - Grapefruit, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Ginger
JOYFUL - Lemon, Sweet Orange, Grapefruit
MENTAL CLARITY - Basil, Peppermint, Rosemary
MUSCLE RELIEF - Rosemary, Juniper, Lavender, Eucalyptus
REJUVENATING - Eucalyptus, Pine, Peppermint, Geranium
RELAXATION - Tangerine, Lavender, Lemon, Marjoram
SENSUOUS – Ylang-Ylang, Lavender, Ginger, Sweet Orange
STRESS FREE - Tangerine, Lavender, Geranium
UPLIFTING - Geranium, Marjoram, Ylang-Ylang

Essential oils are extracted by a variety of methods, and these methods are normally decided upon by the type of botanical material to be used and what oil is to be extracted.

Distillation converts the volatile liquid (the essential oils) into a vapor and then condenses the vapor back into a liquid - it is the most popular, and cost effective method in use today in producing essential oils.

Water Distillation:
When the condensed material cools down, the water and essential oil is separated and the oil decanted to be used as essential oil.
The water that is separated in this process is also used and is marketed as "floral waters" (also called hydrosol or sweet water) - such as rosewater, lavender water and orange water.
Water distillation can be done at reduced pressure (under vacuum) to reduce the temperature to less than 100 degrees, which is beneficial in protecting the botanical material, as well as the essential oils.

Steam distillation:
When steam distillation is used in the manufacture and extraction of essential oils, the botanical material is placed in a still and steam is forced over the material.
The hot steam helps to release the aromatic molecules from the plant material since the steam forces open the pockets in which the oils are kept in the plant material. The molecules of these volatile oils then escape from the plant material and evaporate into the steam.
The temperature of the steam needs to be carefully controlled - just enough to force the plant material to let go of the essential oil, yet not too hot as to burn the plant material or the essential oil.
The steam which then contains the essential oil is passed through a cooling system to condense the steam, which form a liquid from which the essential oil and water is then separate.

Essential oils I look at as a luxury. Because they require a great volume of plant material and a lot of energy to prep and process the material for such a minimal amount of essential oil.
But, in reality essential oils are essential to maintain a healthy life style.

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