What is Aromatherapy?Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of using naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind, and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological, and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.French perfumer and chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé, coined the term “aromatherapie” in 1937 in his book “Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy” which contains early clinical findings for utilizing essential oils for a range of physiological ailments. It seems vital to understand what Gattefossé’s intention for coining the word was, as he meant to distinguish the medicinal application of essential oils from their perfumery applications.We can interpret his use of “Aromatherapie” to mean the therapeutic application or the medicinal use of aromatic substances (essential oils) for holistic healing. As aromatherapy has progressed, it's adopted a more holistic approach encompassing the whole body, mind, and spirit/energy. “Aromatherapy can be defined as the controlled use of essential oils to maintain and protect physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being.” -Gabriel Mojay
What is an Aromatherapist?An aromatherapist utilizes essential oils and other plant materials to empower the body’s natural healing process. This process starts with an aromatherapy consultation to document general health and wellbeing, lifestyle and a detailed health history. Once completed, an aromatherapist will guide clients on the safe uses of essential oils, will create custom blends and may also incorporate some body work like aromatherapy massage. Working with a certified aromatherapist means you will get professional and consistent advice and guidance.What’s involved in becoming an aromatherapist? Professional training in essential oil chemistry, application, contraindications and anatomy & physiology at a minimum. Certification is required in order to be recognized as a Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional (CAHP®) by the CFA. Certification entails a standard education of 400 hours, completion of case studies, as well as successfully completing two certification exams; in anatomy & physiology, and materia aromatica. To meet an aromatherapist, check out our directory page Find an Aromatherapist.
What Are Essential Oils?Essential oils are highly concentrated substances extracted from aromatic plants, trees and grasses. They are found in tiny sacs in various parts of the plant – flowers, leaves, fruit, seeds, bark, resin and roots. The term, ‘essential’, was derived from ‘quintessence’ meaning ‘the essence or extract of a substance in its purest and most concentrated form’. These extracts represent the ‘essence’, spirit or life force of the plant which is important for its survival.
How to use Essential OilsEssential oils can have an effect on the individual’s physical body, mental functioning and emotions. Essential Oils are highly concentrated and potent. Only small amounts are necessary to elicit change within an individual. Through inhalation, the essential oils travel along the olfactory pathways to the nervous system and the respiratory system and can affect change in the individual. Applications for this might include personal inhalers, steam inhalations and diffusers. Used topically and diluted (mixed with a carrier) as in body oil blends, lotions, cream or salves, bath or shower products, essential oils can be helpful for skin issues and physiological concerns (muscular aches and pains). CFA approved schools will teach you how to use aromatherapy in a variety of ways for safe and effective holistic health.
Safe Use of Essential OilsEssential oils must always be diluted in a suitable carrier oil for topical use or massage; blended with soap, oil, or bath dispersant when adding to bath water. Using oils undiluted or ‘neat’ on the skin can result in a skin rash, itching, an allergic reaction, and even severe pain. Essential oils should be kept away from children and pets. Some essential oils are contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding; with some health conditions and with exposure to ultraviolet light (sunbathing, tanning beds). Consult a professional aromatherapist (CAHP) for specific safety guidelines before using. For more about safety, see the CFA Safety Statement.
Careers in Aromatherapy
If you are wondering if you can make aromatherapy into a career, look no further! Aromatherapy can be integrated into a number of professions. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
• Own your own aromatherapy business making custom blends
• Start a natural skincare line
• Incorporate your expertise in hospice care
• Expand you expertise as a massage therapist
• Work in cooperation with spas
• Research and write for the web and more
• Consult or work directly for a retailer
• Become an aromatherapy educator
• Incorporate aromatherapy into your own or your local yoga groups, reflexology or reiki practice
If you can dream it, you can achieve it!
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a trail left in water; an impression made in a place when someone has been and gone; an impression made in a place when someone has been and gone; the trace of a person's scent that lingers in the air