// Aromatherapy //
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils from plant sources to influence changes or modifications within mind, body and spirit. Aromatherapy is an industry with many branches. These include:
- Clinical aromatherapy – whereby the importance of aromatherapy practice is placed in understanding the human body and how essential oils and carrier mediums can be applied to bring about therapeutic effect. This type of aromatherapy is used in health care environments and clinic settings.
- Aesthetic aromatherapy – practiced in a gentle way and can involve the use of aromatherapy for skin and body care, relaxation and general well-being. This is primarily how the beauty therapy and day spa industry utilise aromatherapy.
- Holistic aromatherapy – incorporates the practice of essential oils and carrier mediums that embrace mental, physical, emotional and vibrational aspects of a human being (or animals). This is usually utilised in private practice.
- Aromatic medicine – is an advanced practice of using essential oils, carrier mediums and herbs to bring about therapeutic effect. Essential oils are used internally (as well as by regular means) to achieve this.
There is a strong emphasis placed on botanical chemistry and having a sound working knowledge and understanding in phytotherapy and how it can affect the human body. While this way of using essential oils has been practiced for years in France by doctors and other health care professionals, it is a fairly new form of aromatherapy being taught in Australia. This is used in private practice, health care environments and research settings and would be highly beneficial for not only clinical aromatherapists who wish to advance their skills, but also for health care professionals such as doctors and nurses.
Other branches include product development, manufacturing, education, research, essential oil production and retail.
Aromatherapy is a natural and pleasurable way to stimulate the senses, have an overall sensory experience, restore vitality, enhance emotional wellbeing, and to stimulate the body’s immune system. As essential oils exhibit a wide range of therapeutic properties they can affect or influence many of the body systems.
Some oils induce relaxation, some are stimulating, while others are balancing and sedating. Most stress-related problems can be successfully treated with aromatherapy and an enormous benefit can be gained by using essential oils for emotional well-being. Essential oils can be integrated into everyday life and used in a variety of ways. They can be used in:
- a vaporiser to create an enjoyable ambience or bring about therapeutic effect
- be applied to the body through massage
- the bath or shower
- topical creams and oils for skin/body care and medicinal use
- first aid remedies and insect repellents
- general household cleaning and for environmental fragrancing
Aromatherapy Q & A
Why study aromatherapy?
The ever-expanding field of natural medicine is gaining world-wide popularity and acceptance as trends more towards the integration of both complementary and orthodox philosophies with emphasis on preventative therapies and healthy lifestyle education. There has always been a steady growth of interest in aromatherapy in as much that it is one of the most widely used complementary therapies in Australia today. An increasing number of excellent opportunities exist for well-trained Clinical aromatherapists. Currently graduates and professionals in the field can be found working in private practice, aged care settings, hospital settings, education, retail and product development.
When contemplating a career in aromatherapy it is important to be aware of the need to receive formal and recognised training that will enable therapist confidence in being able to practise confidently, safely and professionally. In order to practise aromatherapy, one should gain the knowledge and skills required to deliver an aromatherapy treatment safely and effectively whilst developing effective communication skills. This includes knowledge of the health sciences, chemistry and the virtues of essential oils. A sound theoretical and practical knowledge of several types of body massage would also be advantageous.
Does aromatherapy really work?
In short, the answer is YES! You need to consider what ailment/condition is being treated, the strength of the product, the application method, regularity of administration and timing (ie. meal times).
There is numerous empirical evidence as well as research being done by PhD students and others that demonstrate the efficacy of essential oils in a variety of environments. Much research has been done on the therapeutic benefits of Tea tree and hypericum. If you want to find out how essential oils can combat and destroy superbugs such as MRSA staphylococcus aureus read Aromatherapy vs MRSA by Maggie Tisserand. If you are skeptical whether essential oils work, then this will change your mind.
It is always a pleasure to see how essential oils can perform small miracles for people and change disbelief to belief.
How does aromatherapy work?
Essential oils can be inhaled, penetrate into the body via the skin and mucous membranes, and can be taken orally. The latter is in the field of aromatic medicine and is only recommended under the guidance of an aromatic medicine specialist.
Via these channels, essential oil molecules are absorbed into the cells of body tissue and organs. In doing so, the molecules trigger certain response. In the case of an essential oil being inhaled, the molecule travels from the nose to the brain (via the olfactory nerve and bulb). The olfactory bulb is stimulated and in turn starts to process the odour information. This one odour can also trigger parts of the brain connected to memory, survival, the central nervous system, hormones and sleep.
Molecules that have been inhaled also travel down the throat and enter the airways and into the lungs where they make their way into the blood stream and circulatory system. The molecules can then be absorbed into tissue walls and effect organs in specific ways.
Essential oils are excreted from the body through perspiration, kidneys and bladder.
What is the connection between massage and aromatherapy?
There is a common misconception that massage is aromatherapy. It is important to understand that both are modalities in their own right. Massage can be used as an application method in aromatherapy and essential oils can be used to promote/enhance therapeutic actions in massage. They have a symbiotic relationship but are also two separate therapies.
AAOWT provides a range of training options from short courses and introductory workshops to Nationally Accredited Skills Sets and Qualifications.