Updated: Feb 9
Aromatherapy is a therapeutic practice that uses aromatic plants and their products (essential oils, hydrolats or hydrosols). Aromatic plants stand out from other plants because they have characteristic smells and their therapeutic use is an ancient practice that arose together with phytotherapy. In the early days, aromatic plants were used, but with the development of extraction techniques, essential oils and hydrosols/hydrolates started to be used.
The word "aromatherapy" comes from the Greek terms "aroma" = pleasant odor + "therapeia" = "the act of healing".
The term "Aromatherapy" was initially used by René-Maurice Gattefossé as the title of the book Aromathérapie, les huiles essentielles, hormones végétales (Aromatherapy, essential oils, vegetable hormones) in 1937. Gattefossé was a French chemist whose family owned a perfume industry. A famous accident in Aromatherapy was when he used lavender essential oil to heal his burns. In his words - “The external application of small quantities of essences rapidly stops the spread of gangrenous sores. In my personal experience, after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped “the gasification of the tissue”. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day (July 1910).”. Although the accident is not the reason he started his studies in Aromatherapy, it definitely propelled him in the direction he was already in. The result was impressive and probably saved his life.
Essential oils can be part of our healthy lifestyle when used correctly to promote well being, improving our physical body and mind. They are used by millions of people daily, most of them without incident. However, essential oils are powerful substances and can be harmful if not used with due care and diligence. The essential oil in a bottle is 50-100 times more concentrated than in the plant. For this reason, the safety issues that apply to essential oils may not apply to the entire plant or the herbal extract.
As we already mentioned in another article (Aromatherapy-diffusers), essential oils are not aromatic essences. Aromatic essences are synthetic, while essential oils are natural and have therapeutic properties and aroma.
There are many methods of extracting the essential oil but steam distillation is the most common and economical extraction process. In this process, plants, seeds, roots and flowers are subjected to the action of water vapor, which is responsible for extracting the oil present in the raw material. In other words, the water vapor passes through the tissues of the raw material and extracts the oil contained in its glands.
This oil is carried by steam until it reaches the condenser, where the mixture of oil and hydrolate/hydrosol (by-product) is cooled and returns to the liquid phase. In the last step of the process, the separator separates the oil from the hydrolate/hydrosol through the difference in density and polarity of the substances.
When buying essential oil it is important to check the name on the label as there are several species of plants and chemotypes on the market. The species would be the scientific name of the plant. In the case of Lavender we have for example 3 different species: Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis, Lavandula vera. Chemotype is when a plant of the same genus and species produces essential oils with a different chemical composition. For example, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has 3 main chemotypes: Rosemary camphor ct. (Spain), Rosemary 1.8 cineole ct. (Tunisia) and Rosemary verbenone ct. (France). All of them come from the same species of plant but due to different altitudes, time of harvest, place of planting, external conditions (soil, climate, pollination, etc.) the essential oils have different chemical elements.
I will suggest of some essential oils to be diffused that can help to relieve certain emotional and physical states:
Sedatives / Calming: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, L. officinalis, L. vera), Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), Geranium (Egypt), Palmarosa (Cymbopogon Martinii), Juniper (Juniperus communis), Melissa (Melissa officinalis), Marjoram (Origanum marjoram, Marjoram hortensis)
Insomnia: Lavender, Roman Chamomile (Chamaemeulum nobile, Anthemis nobilis), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Basil (Ocimum basilicum), Sweet orange (Citrus sinesis), Petitgrain (Citrus x aurantium), Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), Neroli (Citrus x aurantium), Mandarin (Citrus reticulate, C. nobilis), Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)
Anti-depressants: Citrus essential oils such as Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Sweet and Bitter Orange (Citrus x aurantium), Sicilian Lemon (Citrus x limon), Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi), Tangerine, Tahiti Lemon (Citrus x aurantifolia), are known for their anti-depressant and anxiolytic power. * Neroli (Citrus x aurantium), Petitgrain, Melissa, Rosa (Absolute-Rose x Damascena, R. otto), Jasmine (absolute -Jasminum grandiflorum), Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata), Vetiver (Vetiver zizanioides), Cinnamon (Cinnomomum zeylanicum, C. verum), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), Lavender, Thick Lavandin (Lavandula hybrida), Sandalwood, Frankincense (Boswellia serrata and B. carteri)
* Dr. Paolo Rovesti, director of the Derivati Vegetali Institute in Milan, has devoted most of his work to the study of Italian native oils - bergamot, lemon and orange. He is probably the first person to clinically demonstrate the considerable benefit of certain essences in states of anxiety and depression. He also found that jasmine, sandalwood and ylang-ylang alleviate depression.
Stress - Juniper, Bergamot, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Roman Chamomile, Olibanum (Boswellia serrata), Ho Leaf (Qt Linalol), Cedar Atlas (Cedrus atlantica), Cedar Himalaya (Cedrus deodara), Basil, Rose (absolute), Frankincense (Boswellia serrata)
Anxiety - Lavender, Bergamot, Lemon, Neroli, Sweet orange, Jasmine (absolute), Junipero, Patchouli, Marjoram, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Copaiba, Roman chamomile, Sandalwood, Geranium, Frankincense (Boswellia carteri), Copaiba (Copaifera officinalis, C reticulata, C. langodorfil)
Sadness - Marjoram, Rose (loss and sadness), Ylang Ylang (shock)
Concentration / Alert - Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), Cajeput (Melaleuca cajeputi), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Balsamic Fir (Abies balsamea)
Energizing - Wild Pine (Pinus sylvestris), Lemongrass, Tahiti Lemon, Peppermint, Sicilian Lemon
Uplifting - Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, Sweet Orange, Mandarin, Neroli, Jasmin (absolute), Lavandin Grosso, Petitgrain (joy / refreshing)
We recommend the accompaniment of an Aromatherapy professional when treating children, pregnant women, the elderly or people with chronic diseases (eg use of sedatives, respiratory problems, neuropsychological) as essential oils have contraindications for certain cases. For example, Cajeput essential oil (Melaleuca leucadendron or M. cajeputi) is not recommended for young children, as oils with a high content of 1.8 cineol (eucalyptol) can cause problems with breathing and the central nervous system. Others can stimulate epileptic seizures, lower blood pressure or increase, etc.
If you experience any side effects (headache, nausea, allergy, etc.) we recommend that you discontinue use. Remember to keep the room ventilated and away from pets when using the diffuser.
Follow the instructions in the diffuser manual (quantity of drops).
Clinical Aromatherapy module 1 book - Joyessence
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