© 2003 Andrew Thompson
The use of scented oils for healing dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China.
However true distillation wasn't invented until the 11th century when the Persian alchemist Avicenna perfected the process. By the 16th century, essential oils were in common use throughout Europe.
The word "aromaterapie" was coined in 1937 by Rene Gattefosse, a French chemist who was researching the properties of essential oils. His work inspired Dr Jean Valnet, an army surgeon, to use essential oils on the battle wounds of soldiers during World War 2.
In 1964, Dr Valnet published a comprehensive book simply titled "Aromaterapie", and since then the wonders of essential oils and Aromatherapy have spread throughout the world.
Aromatherapy is a stand-alone modality. It's an holistic therapy, and before deciding on a course of treatment, practitioners will spend a great deal of time becoming acquainted with their client.
Once the combination of oils is decided upon, the Aromatherapist will then decide on the style of treatment, which could include a light effleurage-style massage or counselling or lifestyle advice.
The role of a professional Aromatherapist can be a diverse one, and often they will also be trained in other related fields such as Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine, Iridology, or Homeopathy.
The science of Aromatherapy is also becoming popular with Massage Therapists who have undertaken training in the safe use and application of essential oils. As a complementary modality to Massage, Remedial Therapists might mix and use special blends of essential and carrier oils to treat specific problems, e.g. black pepper to relieve muscle soreness etc.
Perhaps the primary concern for Aromatherapists nowadays, is the recent trend for magazines to promote the use of essential oils by members of the unsuspecting public.
While it's true that essential oils come from nature, not everything in nature is benign. Always seek the advice of a professionally trained practitioner.
You will find additional topics on health, fitness, and beauty in the Human Sciences section.
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Have a brilliant day,