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Many people define aromatherapy treatment as the use of oils or massage to achieve both psychological and physical well-being. While this is an accurate general description, it leaves out the importance of essential oils and other forms of aromatherapy that do not involve massage. These other types of aromatherapy include cosmetic aromatherapy, clinical aromatherapy, and aromatology. In fact, aromatherapy and massage are separate treatments that can be used in conjunction to complement the healing effects of each other.
The use of aromatherapy dates back to ancient China, which is believed to be the first society to have treated the body and mind with aromatic plant oils. Eventually, the practice spread to the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Aromatherapy treatment began regaining popularity in the late 20th century.
Essential oils are a main component of any aromatherapy treatment. These oils are 100-percent natural. They are extracted from plants through steam distillation.
Each variety of essential oils has a different effect. Many have therapeutic effects but there are some essential oils that can actually cause harm. These include bitter almond, mustard, onion, garlic, and wormwood oils. There are other natural ingredients beside essential oils that play a crucial role in aromatherapy. These include vegetable oils, liquid wax, herbs, milk powders, sugars, clay, and mud.
Cosmetic aromatherapy infuses essential oils into cosmetic products used for hair and skin in order to tone, cleanse, and moisturize skin. Common cosmetic aromatherapy techniques include facials, stone baths, and hydrating showers. Occasionally, fragrance oils are used in place of essential oils because of their cost. Although fragrance oils have a pleasing smell, they have no healing effects.
Clinical aromatherapy, or medical aromatherapy, uses essential oils topically in order to treat physical, mental, and emotional ailments. These oils are added to another oil or lotion, such as sweet almond, and are applied to the patient’s skin. It can also be infused into baths, compresses, and air for inhalation, which is known as olfactory aromatherapy treatment. An aromatherapy diffuser can be used to spread the healing effects of the oils as well.
Aromatology, or aromatic medicine, is the use of aromatherapy treatments without massage, as well as the internal use of essential oils. These oils are applied to the body through the vagina or rectum. Some controversy does surround this aromatherapy treatment, although it is commonly used in France. Practicing aromatic medicine typically requires much training in order to ensure the safety of patients.