Find a professional for Aromatherapy in Seattle
Aromatherapy is the use of volatile liquid plant materials, known as essential oils
and other aromatic compounds from plants for the purpose of affecting a person's mood or health. Aromatherapy is a generic term that refers to any of the various traditions that make use of essential oils sometimes in combination with other alternative medical practices and spiritual beliefs. Aromatherapy may be used for the treatment or prevention of disease typically by a herbalist or naturopath.
Essential oils and other natural volatile organic compounds work in different ways. At the scent level they activate the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. When applied to the skin (commonly in form of "massage oils" i.e. 1-10% solutions of EO in carrier oil) they activate thermal receptors, and kill microbes and fungi. Internal application of essential oil preparations (mainly in pharmacological drugs; generally not recommended for home use apart from dilution - 1-5% in fats or mineral oils, or hydrosols) may stimulate the immune system.
Some of the materials employed include: essential oils, absolutes, volatile organic compounds, herbal distillates, infusions and carrier oils. Essential oils are fragrant oils extracted from plants chiefly through distillation (e.g. eucalyptus oil) or expression (grapefruit oil). Absolutes are fragrant oils extracted primarily from flowers or delicate plant tissues through solvent or supercritical fluid extraction (e.g. rose absolute). Volatile organic compounds are from plants that kill microbes although they are less commonly used in aromatherapy due to their disagreeable smells. Herbal distillates or hydrosols are the aqueous by-products of the distillation process (e.g. rosewater). There are many herbs that are used to make herbal distillates and they have culinary uses, medicinal uses and skin care uses. Common herbal distillates are rose, lemon balm and chamomile. Infusions are water extracts of various plant material (e.g. infusion of chamomile). Carrier oils are oily plant base triglycerides that are used to dilute essential oils for use on the skin (e.g. sweet almond oil).
Author: Christopher Holder, ND Candidate '07
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