Aromatherapy was given its name by René-Maurice Gattefossé, who was a French chemist who flourished in the early years of the 20th century.
Aromatherapy uses only the essential oils of an herb or flower. Essential oils help give the plant its scent and have health giving properties as well.
Besides its health benefits, aromatherapy is easy to use. Everyone knows which smells they find the most soothing or stimulating. The essential oils that are the main component of aromatherapy are concentrated and the best way to use them is to dilute them in vegetable oil until the fragrance is just perceptible, and rub into the skin. Because the molecules of essential oils are so small, they’re easily absorbed into the blood stream. They’re especially helpful if they’re rubbed over an area of the body where they’re needed. For example, a person suffering from an upset stomach might want to massage an oil over his or her abdomen.
Another way to use aromatherapy is to use an aromatic diffuser. This is a glass vessel that pumps a mist of fragrance into the air. Some people forgo the diffuser and just put a drop of essential oil on a lightbulb or a ceramic ring that can fit around a lightbulb. Incense, potpourri, scented bed linens, and stationery can also be subtly scented.
Essential oils are extracted by distillation or pressing and can be quite expensive. Some rare essential oils can sell for about $800 an ounce or higher. It might take hundreds of pounds of the petals from a certain rare type of rose to produce just an ounce of essential oil.
Here are 10 aromatherapy scents and how they benefit the body. Some of these oils can be combined with other essential oils to enhance the effect:
BergamotBergamot is a plant that’s native to North America and grows from Maine and Canada down to Georgia and into New Mexico. It’s also called bee balm or horsemint. Bergamot is used to relieve anxiety, depression, stress and insomnia.
RoseEssential oil derived from roses is used to relieve anxiety, stress and anxiety. Many people also say it's a great aphrodisiac.
SageSage, whose leaves and even flowers are used in cooking, is used to relieve sorrow and to give people energy when they're fatigued. Sage essential oil rubbed over the belly is also good for relieving menstrual cramps.
LavenderLavender essential oil relieves anxiety, improves memory and relaxes people who suffer from insomnia. When added to oatmeal, cornmeal and lavender flowers, it makes an excellent facial scrub. It also helps make a good facial steam for an oily complexion. It's also good for minor burns and dizziness.
Ylang-YlangThis herb is native to Burma and Australia and is now cultivated in Madagascar and the West Indies. Its beautiful flowers are picked at night when the scent is at its most intense. Ylang-Ylang essential oil relieves stress, insomnia, anxiety and is also considered a potent aphrodisiac.
MarjoramThe humble marjoram, with a smell similar to but more subtle than oregano, is used to relieve anxiety and help with insomnia.
OrangeThe scent of orange essential oil also relieves anxiety and helps people to get to sleep.
HopsThough this plant is associated with beer, its essential oil can be used to relieve physical pain, stress and insomnia.
LemonLemon relieves depression and helps strengthen the memory. It can also be combined with other essentials oils as an antiseptic spray.
NeroliThe essential oil of this orange blossom is used to lower stress and blood pressure and to relieve depression.
Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, fitness, beauty and fashion. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.