in the book massage and aromatherapy edited by c.stuart, it says that the use of plant oils has been known for more than 6,000 years, including the chinese working with the medicinal properties of plants recorded in 4500 BC onwards, the egyptians 3,000 BC etc, through to hippocrates time – the greeks, and also the romans are said to have used them. it also gives examples of use in arabia in about 1000 AD, and the 15th century and 17th century europe. and more recently, 1928 france (with french chemist rene maurice gattefosse attributed to first using the term ‘aromatherapie’). i’m sure that’s just a few examples of the use of these aromas throughout the years, and throughout the world.
if we’re working from the premise that everyone has it in themselves to self heal, and mainstream medicine, herbs, energy medicine etc assists the self healing process, often being triggers for the self healing to occur, then i guess it is logical that the sense of smell can also be used to trigger this self-healing, well-being, or other property that we wish to experience. we’ve probably experienced similar without even knowing anything about aromatherapy, when certain smells produce certain feelings and emotions…normally when i’ve experienced it in the past, it has been in relation to memories when i’ve noticed that smell, but that feeling could potentially occur without those memories too. there is one smell that reminds me of a certain memory for example, but i remember in that memory the same smell making me feel a certain feeling, even though, to my knowledge, it was the first time i’d taken in that aroma.
while many people have already experienced relaxation etc with lavender, helping some people relax, get to sleep etc, the more i experience this on the course, the more empirical evidence i will have for this. it will be interesting to experiment and find out. like many, i have already found that menthol and eucalyptus has decongestant properties…i even remember it being the one thing that worked when my GP prescribed menthol and eucalyptus inhalation for recurrent persistant coughs i had when i was about 16 (albeit working temporarily, until i found that removing dairy and egg products from my diet stopped it completely, the temporary assistance when i didn’t know what was causing it was of amazing help).
in the aromatherapy and massage book, edited by c.stuart says they work by the aromas sending messages to the brain (through senses in the nose), working on the limbic system, affecting the emotions and the body.
some of the oils we’re learning about in the course, and some of the effects attributed to them (i’m still yet to experience these fully myself, i’m just using the sources mentioned at the bottom of the article)
lavender – lavendula angustifolia
sedative (calms nervous system), calming, antispasmodic (relieves/prevents/eases spasms, cramps, convulsions), analgesic (relieves pain), antibacterical (prevents growth of or destroys bacteria), antifungal (prevents growth of or destroys fungal infections)
assists with sleep, calmes nerves, lifts depression
rosemary – rosmarinus officinalis
analagesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic
useful for :
respiratory system, lifts depression, clears mind
peppermint mentha piperina
roman chamomile r
german chamomile g
tea tree a
antiseptic (prevents growth of and destroys potentially harmful microbes) t
black pepper b
sweet orange s
now i knew about various carrier oils, but didn’t realise that specific properties have been attributed to these too…
books utilised :
the complete book of massage and aromatherapy c. stuart (ed) Leicestershire, Anness Publishing 2011
aromatherapy for mind and body (schiller 1997, new york, sterling publishing co)