Aromatherapy, like many other alternative/complimentary medicine practices often receives 'bad press' about whether it actually works. Many people believe aromatherapy to be 'just a pretty smell'.
Some of this 'bad press' may come from the fact that aromatherapy is not regulated in the USA; anyone can set up and claim to be an aromatherapist with little or no training. In addition, some essential oil suppliers, who claim to supply 'pure' essential oils, are actually selling adulterated or unpure essential oils.
Pure essential oils are obtained from plants; plants possess essential oils for a number of reasons. Botany and aromatherapy are closely interlinked because essential oils are extracted from plants. The therapeutic powers obtained from essential oils often had an original purpose in protecting the plant too.
Scientists in many countries have conducted many experiments to try to prove or disprove the value of essential oils in certain circumstances. Sometimes the results are inconclusive, due to various factors, but many experiments end in a postive result for the power of essential oils. The International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics carries many indepth studies on essential oils.
Often essential oils are confused with fragrance oils; fragrance oils, although pleasant smelling, do not carry the therapeutic properties of essential oils and should not be used in the practice of healing aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is also a phrase which is often misused. True aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for therapeutic practice but often people talk about aromatherapy when they are really talking about fragrance oils or perfumery.
Essential oils are used medicinally in France and are becoming more popular in medical practice in the U.K. too. I don't beleive that essential oils are in common practice in the U.S.A. in medical settings as yet (please let me know if you know different!) and perhaps the aromatherapy profession needs to be regulated more firmly before this can happen.
For this reason, I am planning on doing further aromatherapy training next year to greater understand the complexities in the chemical make-up of essential oils so that when people ask if essential oils really do work, I will have the knowledge and further experience to expand on my answer!
If understood correctly, and if used correctly, essential oils can be beneficial to a great many people in a number of health problems.
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