Reprinted from the January 2017 edition of South Shore Senior News
By Carol Corio
I have been an aromatherapist and enthusiast for educating individuals about the benefits of using the therapeutic and vibrational benefits of pure essential oils for over 25 years. Starting in 1990, I studied with many of the leading nationally-recognized aromatherapists that travelled to Boston to teach multiple weekend classes. Over 30 dedicated colleagues (many of whom travelled to Boston to attend), joined me in these classes. We all had the same desire—learn from the master teachers in aromatherapy (the best of the best) about all the multi-faceted benefits of pure essential oils. When the classes were done, we had all completed over 300 hours; it was a pioneering time. The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) was in its infancy and still going strong today. I served as the first NAHA Northeast Director, I attended NAHA educational conferences, and I spoke at national aromatherapy conferences. Fast forward 26 years, I share my passion for therapeutic aromatherapy in my professional work with seniors on the South Shore.
Enhance Quality of Life With Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a way to improve the quality of everyday living on many levels, including physical, emotional, and spiritual. Aromatherapy is already a part of our everyday living, although we may not have associated the name to the experience. Everyone has had emotional responses to certain scents, both pleasant and unpleasant. The idea behind aromatherapy is, first to find the special scents unique for each individual, that provide positive sensory feelings and emotions, and then to introduce those scents into our everyday life to enhance our well-being. Scents keep us connected to Mother Earth. Essential oils recall memories and emotions. Awakening to the benefits of aromatherapy is like reconnecting to our roots.
Today, aromatherapy and essential oils are experiencing a resurgence of therapeutic recognition and mainstream popularity. Aromatherapy is a natural way to feel better, both on the inside and outside, using pure, safe essential oils extracted from naturally aromatic living plants. These botanical essences help us to energize, balance, and ground by supporting our well-being and contributing to our inner harmony. With over 200 pure essential oils to experience, incorporating aromatherapy into everyday living by using essential oil-based products creates a heightened appreciation for how scent enhances wellness.
For some, defining aromatherapy is a review. For others, it is an awakening to a new world. As the study of enhancing wellness through scent, aromatherapy is the use of pure essential oils, extracted from many parts of the plant including the flower, leaf, blossom, petal, resin, tree, bark, root, twig, seed, berries, rind, and rhizome, to calm, balance, and rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit.
Aromatherapy is both an art and a science. The art applies to blending. The combination of mutually enhancing oils is a synergistic blend. Creating blends requires an understanding of each essential oil’s properties, lots of experience, and reliance on intuition, likened to receiving the ability to be a gifted musician who plays a violin, few are good at it. The science applies to understanding the unique chemical and therapeutic properties of essential oils.
The History of Aromatherapy
Aromatic medicine, the ancient beginnings of the art of aromatherapy, was recorded in both Egypt and India more than six thousand years ago. Massage oils, healing preparations, embalming, skin care, fragrant perfumes, and cosmetology are some of the uses originated by the Egyptians. The practice of Ayurvedic medicine in India is one of the oldest medical practices still in existence today.
The use of plant and herbal extracts for medicinal healing has been documented by most native cultures throughout history. For centuries, essential oils were offered as the only relief for epidemic diseases. Essential oils share common medicinal qualities. As an antibacterial and an antiseptic, essential oils inhibit the growth of bacteria. As an anti-inflammatory, essential oils help reduce swelling. As an analgesic, essential oils help reduce pain.
The advent of modern medicine pushed aside herbal remedies for synthetically produced alternatives. When given a choice of deriving synthetic medicinal preparations through the controlled environment of the laboratory or deriving botanical medicinal preparations from the fields of nature, modern scientists opted for the synthetic laboratory approach, primarily for the purpose of enhancing pharmaceutical profits.
At the beginning of this century, particularly in France and England, a movement by noted doctors and scholars in the naturopathic and medical communities, prompted a reawakening to the benefits of natural medicine and aromatherapy. Today, in France, it is common to find that doctors practice aromatherapy, pharmacies sell essential oils, and health insurance reimburse for treatments and prescriptions using these approaches. These practices are not common in our country. There are no governmental regulations or licensing for both the practice of aromatherapy and the manufacture of aromatherapy products as it relates to the quality and purity of essential oils.
Essential Oils Defined
Essential oils are natural substances which are extracted via distillation from tiny molecular sacs of each botanical. They are part of the plant’s immune system and yet a separate substance created from the plant. The steam distillation process gently extracts the volatile oil from the plant parts. The essences are natural, and so they work in harmony with the body. Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts that contain hormones, vitamins, and antiseptics that work on many levels. They are 75-100 times more concentrated than dried herbs. All essential oils, to a greater or less extent, exhibit the following characteristics: antiseptic (prevents or combats infection locally), bactericide (kills bacteria), bacteriostatic (inhibits growth of bacteria), and cytophylactic (promotes cell rejuvenation when applied to skin).
We have just scratched the surface of this extensive and fascinating subject. So much more to share with you. To be continued, Part 2 in February.