Body & Soul: Make Fragrance Essential

| August/September 2007

People have used herbal aromas to benefit body, mind and spirit for thousands of years. Early records indicate that ancient Egyptians used aromatic plant oils to treat health problems, and Cleopatra was known to use essential oils in her perfumes. In the East, Chinese doctors also knew the healing powers of fragrance.

The science and practice of modern aromatherapy (also known as essential oil therapy) began with the French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé, who coined the term aromathérapie. Around 1910, Gattefossé discovered the healing properties of lavender oil after severely burning his hand in a laboratory explosion. To cool his hand quickly, he plunged it into a vat of pure lavender essential oil. The pain vanished almost instantly and the burn healed without a scar or infection. This result led Gattefossé to a lifetime of research on the subject of essential oils and their healing properties.

Today, aromatherapy is widely practiced. When eaten, sipped as tea or applied to the surface of the skin, many herbs have healing properties. Aromatherapists go one step further, using the fragrances of herbs to treat or prevent health problems, or simply to create a mood. Practitioners of aromatherapy believe that fragrances stimulate nerves in our nose, and these nerves send impulses to the part of the brain that controls memory and emotions. Depending on the types of oils used, the results might be calming or stimulating. The scent of chamomile or lavender, for example, is used to relieve tension and promote sleep, while the fragrance of rosemary is used to improve circulation and enhance memory. And anyone who has ever smelled a peppermint leaf can attest to the scent’s ability to instantly refresh and energize.

Pure plant extracts, known as essential oils, are widely available and key to the practice of aromatherapy. Essential oils are highly concentrated and have an intense fragrance. Taken from the plant’s flowers, leaves, stems, bark, rind or roots, these oils can be mixed with other oils, alcohol or lotion.

Before you use essential oils yourself, however, a few words of caution: Remember that one drop goes a long way. When using essential oils in bath and body products, always be sure to dilute them. The undiluted volatile oils can penetrate the skin, causing skin irritation or sensitivity. Some highly sensitive people can experience an allergic reaction to certain essential oils (though this is rare.) To be safe, first test yourself for sensitivity by applying a small amount of diluted oil to your skin before using it all over your body. (Also, be sure to purchase pure essential oils for aromatherapy use, not fragrance oils, which are synthetic.)

There are many ways to treat your body and lift your spirit with aromatic essential oils. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to get you started.

Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds