The vital element in any aromatherapy treatment is the pure essential oil. These oils are very different from the heavy oils we use for cooking; they are concentrated essences, much lighter than water and highly flammable. They evaporate quickly, so they are usually mixed with other ingredients to trap their effectiveness. Because they are so concentrated, essential oils are measured in drops.
This is a natural living substance: the "loving" element of a plant which is captured and capsuled. It is a delicate operation. For instance, certain petals and leaves must be picked at exactly the right moment, or the quality of the oil is affected. Only the purest essences are used in Aromatherapy so that the therapeutic properties are maximised and the effects are predictable. Essential oils are extracted from an array of plant sources - petals, leaves, seeds, nut kernels, bark, stalk, flower heads and gums and resins from trees. Apart from their sensuous vapours, which provide the fragrance in many perfumes, they can be used in the bath, smoothed over the body, and used in the myriad ways described later. Because of their molecular structure, essential oils can penetrate the skin more effectively than vegetable oils, which can only lie at the surface. Used medicinally over the centuries, essential oils have now become an established "alternative" natural therapy which can assist in the treatment of almost every type of ache and pain, as well as smooting away stress and strains of modern life.
How They Work:
Essential oils are composed of tiny molecules which are easily dissolved in alcohol, emulsifiers and particularly, fats. This allows them to penetrate the skin easily and work into the body by mixing with the fatty tissue. As these highly volatile essences evaporate they are also inhaled, thus entering the body via the millions of sensitive cells that line the nasal passages. These send messages straight to the brain, and affect the emotions by working on the limbic system, which also controls the major functions of the body. Thus in an aromatherapy treatment the essential oils are able to enhance both your physical and psychological well-being at the same time. Each oil has a distinct chemical composition which determines its fragrances, color, volatility and, of course, the ways in which it affects the system, giving each oil its unique set of beneficial properties.
Essential Oils And Aromatherapy - Methods Of Extraction