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A Brief History of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has many followers, but its history and use goes back 1000’s of years to ancient civilisations. In more recent time the French chemist – Rene Maurice Gattefosse, has been credited with the ‘re-discovery’ of the value of plant extracts.
Aromatic plants and oils are used by different cultures all over the world. They are used in oils, perfumes, in incense, in religious ceremonies, in cooking and in medicine. Many of the medicinal products that are in use in our modern world are originally derived from plants and herbs, all be it that today it is the synthesised equivalent that is used by the pharmaceutical companies rather than the natural product.
Aromatherapy has been used by ancient civilisations for thousands of years.
The Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Indians all used essential oils for their well-being. Hippocrates – the Father of Modern Medicine is reported to have regularly used aromatherapy baths and oils. When a Roman doctor – Discorides in 50A.D decided to further the work of Hippocrates, the result was a 5 volume book called the ‘De Materia Medica’. This book gave a detailed outline of the healing properties of plants and how they affected the body.
However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that Europe began to reap the benefits of essential oils, when a French chemist – Rene Maurice Gattefosse, having burnt his hand reputedly plunged it into the nearest cool liquid, which happened to be a beaker of Lavender oil. He subsequently found that not only did the wound heal quickly without infection, but neither did it leave a scar. It was he who coined the phrase ‘Aromatherapy’ derived from ‘Aroma’ meaning perfume or smell and ‘Therapy’ meaning treatment.
More recently Robert Tisserand pushed Aromatherapy to the fore, and now there are many books, Aromatherapists and suppliers all able to help with many of today’s ills, aches and pains, stress and of course the simple pleasure of relaxation. Nature always has a way of trying to heal, whether it’s the body or the mind and Aromatherapy can certainly help.
Aromatherapy can be used in many different ways, the most common and popular being aromatherapy massage, but you can also use essential oils in baths, or in a diffuser. This method uses a ring around a light bulb to which the oils are added and as they evaporate they are dispersed into the room or a similar arrangement using a special candle holder with bowl above. This has a the added benefit of relaxing by candle light. You can also use hot water to disperse the oils into the air by putting a few drops into a bowl of hot water, ideal for using on babies and young children with coughs and colds – do keep the hot water out of reach!
Using Massage to Relax and Repair The following aromatherapy massage techniques form a simple guide to the different types of massage that can be used to ensure you get the best results. Aromatherapy massage is neither complicated nor difficult and can form part of a healing process. Always massage with the flow of your body, which is …
Tips and Use for Aromatherapy @ Home
Aromatherapy can be used in many different ways, the most common and popular being aromatherapy massage, but you can also use essential oils in warm baths, or in a diffuser (more of that later). You can use hot water to disperse the oils into the air by putting a few drops into your bath or a bowl of hot water, this is ideal for using on babies and young children with coughs and colds – but do keep the hot water out of reach!
Using a Diffuser
This method uses a heat source to disperse the oil into the air, you can use a special diffusing ring sitting on a light bulb (table lamp) to which the oils are added and as they heat they evaporate and are dispersed into the room. You can use a similar arrangement using a special candle holder with an inbuilt bowl above, these come in lots of different styles to suit and use a simple and safe tealight as the heat source, once lite the oils in the bowl above slowly evaporate. This has the added benefit of relaxing by candle light.
Massage can be undertaken alone, with a partner or by going to a masseur. Whatever course you take the benefits are well worth the effort, it can help you recover from sports or muscle related injuries, stress relief, detoxification or just for the pleasure of it!
There are several different types of massage that can be used depending on the circumstances and what you are trying to achieve. We will be republishing our Free Massage Guide shortly which w
Put your aromatherapy oils on your fingertips and use the fingers to massage around the head. It is only the fingertips that are used to gently but firmly go around and over the head.
Start at the base of the neck and work upwards to the base of the scalp. Use the fingers in firm, but not hard effleurage strokes. Continue for as long as is necessary. It may also help to include the shoulder area.
Using the whole of the hand, at the base of the neck place a hand each side of the vertebrae (never put pressure on the vertebrae), use small but firm circular movements, work from the base of the neck, and continue upwards to the base of the scalp and then down the sides of the neck. Work around the sides of the neck using gentle but firm movements.
Use the thumbs and palms to massage with effleurage and petrissage actions, moving from the base of the neck outwards to the shoulder. You may also find it beneficial to take in the shoulder blade area by making large circular movements around the top of the shoulder to just under the shoulder blade.
Using upwards strokes from the wrist to the armpit. Using petrissage on fatty and muscular areas as appropriate.
Starting from the lumbar region of the back, use effleurage strokes, put one hand either side of the vertebrae, using the whole hand, flat against the back stroke up towards the shoulder around and over the shoulder blade and slide down again the sides of the back. (Do not massage over the vertebrae). Repeat as often as is wished.
Using effleurage strokes, use circular movements in a clockwise direction only.
Always massage the legs upwards from the ankle to the thigh using effleurage strokes. Where appropriate use petrissage on the fatty or muscular areas. (Never over varicose areas)
The Reproductive area (Women)
Using effleurage strokes start at the lower back and slide over the hips, then slide each hand over the abdomen. Use the whole of the hand flat against the skin.
Massage in an upwards direction from the toes to the ankle, if you are lucky enough to have someone do this for you, thumbs should be on the sole of the foot with the fingers on top, if you are doing your own feet you may find it easier to have your thumb on top with your fingers underneath.