Basics of Aromatherapy



What are the basics of aromatherapy

A dozen red roses can set off a romantic chain of events, and a few drops of the oil can have the same potential. In fact, oil of rose is a versatile essence with all sorts of uses in physical and mental therapy, but while many other oils have many similar uses, only a few have such a close association with romance.

Poets have sung for thousands of years about the magic of the rose. In aromatherapy, most beginners and home practitioners will have to forgo the pleasure of using this oil because of the cost. If you were thinking of buying essential oil of rose as a birthday present for an aromatic friend, pause and consider. By weight, gold is cheaper.

First practical point: what is aromatherapy going to cost you? Luckily for those without rich admirers, most of the useful oils are affordable. Three or four people could easily spend more on a night at a restaurant than the price of setting yourself up with the Top Ten oils, and you could get two complete sets of these for the price of one phial of rose oil. So, aromatherapy need not be expensive.

Essential oilsBut just what is it that you are buying? For a start, a so-called essential oil is really more like a spirit-essence than an oil. Oils such as olive or sunflower are greasy, turgid substances which do not readily evaporate into the air. Essential oils, these essences in their little dark glass bottles, are thin, watery liquids which evaporate before your very eyes.

The technical term is volatile, and the chemical names of the myriad constituents of these volatile spirits usually end in ‘-of, ‘-ate’ or ‘-ene’, as in other volatile fluids such as alcohol, acetate and trinitrotoluene, or TNT. Leave the top off your phial and forget about it, and next time you look the phial will be empty.

As essential oils evaporate they carry and develop their scent, but the scent is often unrecognizably strong if sniffed neat. Some essential oils can smell less like a garden of flowers than like something you would wave under the nose of a boxer who had just been knocked out.

You now know how to recognize an essential oil. It is not oily, it may smell so strong it makes your eyes water, and if you put a drop on a tissue the wet mark will disappear very quickly.

The other types of oils you will come across are fragrant oils and carrier oils. Fragrant oils smell pleasant, are oily and do not evaporate as fast as essential oils. They are especially made for atmospheric uses such as potpourri and aroma rings. They do not have the beneficial qualities of essential oils, just the same smell, and are only for fun.

Carrier oils are the medium by which a tiny bit of essence can be made to go a long way — for example in massage. Any kind of cold-pressed, additive-free vegetable oil could be used, but you might find olive or groundnut a bit overpowering and so, rather than raiding the kitchen cupboard, you are probably safer and better off buying professional carrier oils, also called fixed oils. You only use a very small quantity anyway, you know they are pure, and they even have limited beneficial effects in themselves which can help the essential oils to work.