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Aromatherapy Makes Scents

Updated on April 29, 2010

A stroll through a field of fresh flowers is one of life's pleasures. We are drawn to the beautiful scent with the magical appeal of the fragrances delighting not only our noses but our minds and bodies. While it is widely known that scents can alter our moods and emotions, it is the healing art of aromatherapy that has formulated the scientific basis for using the odoriferous essential oils of aromatic plants, flowers and trees to enhance both physical and emotional well - being.
 
Essential oils are present in tiny droplets between plant cells where they act as hormones, regulators and catalysts in plant metabolism. Rich in vitamins, antibiotics and antiseptics, essential oils are concentrated forms of herbal energy, sometimes referred to as the "life force" or "prana" inherently present in each plant.

Essential oils are captured through processes such as distillation and enfleurage. The oils are such concentrated forms of the plants that it takes 150 pounds of lavender, 500 pounds of rosemary, or about 3000 pounds of roses to make just 1 pound of essential oil!
 
Aromatherapy can trace its roots to a very long and ancient history. Since the earliest ages of humanity, the essential oils of flowers and herbs have been used for their healing, beautifying and soothing properties; they played an integral part in daily rituals and religious ceremonies. An example is ancient Egypt: a birthplace of perfumery, medicine, and pharmacy - where essential oils were used for hygiene, perfumes, spiritual ceremonies and even embalming. In ancient times, the healing, calming properties of select fruits, flowers, herbs, root and spices were studied carefully and recipes for fragrant tonics were closely guarded secrets.
 
Modern aromatherapy began in Europe at the turn of the century with chemists and doctors such as Rene - Maurice Gattefosse and Jean Valnet rediscovering, verifying and establishing the therapeutic use of essential oils. Now one of the fastest growing healing arts in the United States, aromatherapy is even more widely accepted in Europe, where it is taught to French medical students and practiced by nurses in some English hospitals.
 
Many people believe you can gain many benefits by easily incorporating aromatherapy into your skin - care and body - care regimens. As essential oils are easily absorbed into the skin, using them in your bath, shower or massage oil is a very effective way of introducing them to the body. To receive relaxation benefits from a bath, sprinkle some lavender, marjoram or chamomile directly into your bath water. For a morning pick - me - up shower, mix sage, rosemary or pine in unscented liquid soap or shower gel. To help relieve rheumatic pains and muscular aches use birch, juniper or rosemary in a vegetable - based massage oil.
 
Many of today's skin care products use essential oils as key ingredients. To customize your own facial and body care products, you can mix the oils in some of your favorite unscented cream, masks and cleansers. Examples include using lemon and geranium to help control oily skin, sandalwood and rosemary to help moisturize dry skin and rosewood and chamomile to soothe sensitive skin.
 
Essential oils that are blended with a vegetable oil, like jojoba, make wonderful natural perfumes. Some beautiful fragrances include rose, jasmine, neroli and linden blossom.
 
Essential oils can also affect our mental and emotional states, as we seem to respond more emotionally to smell than to other senses. The reason for this is that the nerves that are responsible for smelling, the olfactory nerves, are directly connected to the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. In the French language, the word sentir means which means "to smell" also means "to feel".
 
Inhalation is another wonderful way to use essential oils. By putting a few drops of oil in a bowl of warm water, sprinkling them on your pillow or dabbing some on a handkerchief, you can enjoy the benefits of inhaling the oils at home, school or office.
 
Aromatherapy is a wonderful resource, capturing the magical ability of flowers and herbs to enhance radiant beauty and well - being. As you need not be an expert to enjoy its benefits, you should discover for yourself why aromatherapy makes such great scents... er... sense.

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