The imagery that the word "aromatherapy" evokes from people is often full of hemp clothing, tie-dye shirts, guys with pony tails, doors made out of beads, music featuring the sitar, and people saying "far out" after every sentence.
This couldn't be further from the truth. Sure, back in the 60s there were probably lots of hippies that were into aromatherapy. However, aromatherapy has gone "mainstream" now and the health community is increasingly realizing the myriad benefits from using essential oils in every day life.
A little research can go a long way into de-mystifying aromatherapy, and how it can serve as a tool in your arsenal against common maladies. From struggling to fall asleep, to feeling stressed out, to feeling anxiety or anger, aromatherapy offers essential oils derived from plants to alleviate negative feelings.
With all of the misconceptions about what aromatherapy is, check out these facts. Some of them may surprise you!
1. Aromatherapy is 6,000 years old, dating back to ancient Chinese practices of burning herbs to promote well-being. Even back then, over 300 unique herbs were identified and used to alleviate a host of issues.
2. Ancient Egyptians used massage ointments, incense, and bath oils. Likely, Cleopatra had glowing skin for this reason... There were even essential oils used during the embalming process, but let's assume you're not going to need to know how to do that!
3. Hippocrates, who is deemed the "Father of Modern Medicine" was faced with a plague in Athens. He fought the plague by fumigating homes with aromatic steam. In some of his other treatments, he used essential oils and massage oils on his patients.
4. During the Dark Ages, aromatherapy became forbidden and a secret underground black market formed for those who still wanted to use it. The Catholic Church had banned any remedies that were "natural" and not religious in nature.
5. During the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods in Europe, aromatherapy was actually uncommon as radical, alternative scientific remedies were explored instead.
6. Aromatherapy wasn't called "aromatherapy" until the 1920s. This is the same time the practice started to flourish again. A French chemist named Rene Maurice Gattefosse burnt his hand and, since he didn't have anything else nearby to alleviate the excruciating pain, soaked it in lavender oil. He was surprised to see that the wound healed quickly. It was he who dubbed the term "aromatherapy".
7. Essential oils are extracted from the "essence" of plants, and in fact come from in between plant cells. They are aromatic in nature, and can come from flowers, seeds, roots, bark, roots, herbs, and grass.
8. Some companies in Japan pump certain aromatics through their air conditioning systems in offices to improve employee productivity and efficiency. Scents like lemon and rosemary have been shown to increase alertness.
9. Aromatherapy might be a viable method of preventing airborne infections in hospitals and public transit systems. The air-purifying, anti-viral, and antibacterial properties of certain essential oils could prevent the spread of illnesses.
10. The process of creating essential oils is very labor and cost intensive. For example, over 30 roses would need to be processed in order to create just one drop of rose oil. This is also why very small amounts of essential oils can have mighty effects.
Did you learn a thing or two about aromatherapy today? Great!
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