What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils (EOs) and other natural aromatic compounds from plants to affect one’s mental or physical health. Essential oils, sometimes known as ethereal or volatile oils, are defined as hydrophobic (non-water mixing) volatile (air mixing) aromatic compounds extracted from plants. Essential oils are sometimes referred to as an “oil of” a plant- such as oil of lavender. Essential oils are referred to as “essential” because they are the perceived “essence” of a plant, not because of an actual necessity.

Essential oils and other compounds used in aromatherapy are used in treatments for ailments ranging from digestion issues to tension headaches. Aromatherapy can be used to alter mood, inspire confidence, and boost one’s energy. In many nations essential oils are used for their antiseptic qualities to treat infection. In France, many such oils are treated the same way prescription drugs are in the United States. Essential oil treatments can be delivered in many different ways- direct inhalation of vapors, inhalation of steam from a vaporizer, through massage, or through therapeutic baths. It is important to note, however, that essential oils are diluted in carrier oils (neutral, odorless oils) before being used on skin. Essential oils can be used singly or in combinations with other essential oils.

Other products used in Aromatherapy besides essential oils include absolutes, phytoncides, and infusions. Absolutes are essentially purer forms of essential oils that have had their lighter, less dense components extracted with ethanol. Phytoncides are natural antimicrobial liquids used by many plants to protect themselves from rotting or being eaten by insects and animals. Infusions are oils or other liquids that have been infused with herbs, flowers, or berries.

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Sweet Medicine Essentials
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