The use of aromatic plants dates back thousands of years, first documented in Vedic and Chinese medical literature and later in the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Greece and Rome. Aromatic plants have not only been used therapeutically, but also diversly in perfumes (jasmine), religious ceremonies(frankincense), magical rites (juniper), embalming(cedarwood) and for pleasure in sensual masaje (rose). Nowadays their use has extended to improving work rates in the office, calming people on airlines, formulating household cleaning products and as natural alternatives to pesticide. The qualified aromatherapist will thus normally have an adaptable and holistic approach both to healing and to how these wonderful plants can improve our quality of life on many levels. You will start to look at nature in a different light as you begin to understand and appreciate her scent, for example driving through a pine forest, brushing against rosemary on a country walk, picking an orange or lemon from a tree or sending a rose to a lover…The meaning behind the aroma is deeply ingrained in our memories and our sense of smell can lead us on a journey to faraway places and times. It was the Arab physician Avicenna who discovered the distilation process and applied it to the rose, “the Queen of Flowers” for its affinity with all things feminine and its association with love. Rose oil is expensive as we need approximately 2000 kg of petals to produce 1 kg of essential oil. When we buy oils we need to be sure of their quality: price can be a reflection of this, as can the reputation of the manufacturer and presentation of the product. Essential oils have varying chemical constituents which give them distinctive properties and aromas. The essential oil contains the life-force, essence or soul of the plant. This force and power needs to be diluted before use or used in moderation, never taken internally and avoided with certain medical conditions or with sensitive individuals. The practioner will prepare a mix for each person taking into consideration any contraindications and the emotional , psychological and biological affects of the oil. Most commonly the oils are used in masaje, diluted to 3%, in a base oil such as sweet almond, grapeseed or coconut. 2 drops per 5ml.
Citrus oils are obtiained by simple expression, ie the peel is squeezed and the oil collected. Citrica Pizarra, a small scale producer in the Malaga province, has received national recognition for the best quality lemon oil in Spain and as you open the bottle and sniff, you can see why. Citrus fruits are generally uplifting, anti-depressants and have a stimulating affect on the body and are good for digestive disorders, providing then a ray of sunshine in winter.
Lavender is unequalled in its diversity and should form a part of any first aid kit, ideal for treating wounds and burns, being applied directly on the skin or in creams. It is also a relaxant for tired and aching muscles and can induce sleep and combat anxiety.
Tea tree, an immunilogical booster, is used in facials for acne, to fight infection or kill bacteria in a foot wash, or as a drop on your toothbrush for healthy dentures.
Aromatherapy then has many benefits and pleasures waiting to be discovered, so why not, seek a professional treatment or go on a course where you will realise that an aroma is so much more than a simple smell.
Lawrence Body, aromatherapy teacher, NaturaClass 951311216/ 696369040. Email:Lawrence@naturaclass.net
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