Aromatherapy: The Modern Day Holistic Approach
Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy deep rooted in ancient history which uses essential oils as a form of healing art reinforced by science. Today there are varied approaches used ranging from purely aesthetic to holistic and clinical. The clinical approach, practised by many French doctors, focuses on the chemical proposition of the essential oil to treat medically. This was influenced by the work of French chemist Gattefosse (1910) who understood that aromatherapy was a classic allopathic therapy within the framework of conventional medicine, in which essential oils are used to treat disease. This influenced the new beginnings of the holistic approach in aromatherapy, which now works along side conventional medicine of today.
The holistic approach of aromatherapy works to treat the mind, body and spirit of the whole person and considers influential factors such as lifestyle, nutrition, external events and even individual personality. In the case of diet, ‘we are what we eat’ so it plays a key role in supporting health, immunity and mental wellbeing. Given the mind and body are so deeply connected, it’s no surprise that if one is out of balance it will undoubtably effect the other. Take an individual who is very self-critical on themselves; this negative thinking is known to suppress the immune system making the individual more susceptible to illness and disease. If the individual is suffering from stress, a therapist would look at adjusting the lifestyle of the patient so they are better equipped to manage, along with proposed essential oil support to help calm the nervous system. This natural and gentle approach is very different to that of conventional medicine, where treatments including synthetic drugs can cause unfavourable side effects such as addiction and resistance. The holistic approach works to tackle the root cause of the issue or condition rather than simply suppressing the symptoms.
Despite all this, many still perceive aromatherapy as simply ‘a massage with essential oils’. The term in itself is often misleading, as it suggests the therapy is limited to the sense of smell and emotions, however the science goes much deeper than this. The chemicals in a plant oil trigger psychological, physiological and pharmacological effects which affect our emotions, mental state, and bodily systems as a whole. Some essential oils, such as Geranium, have the ability to calm the nervous system due to their influence on the adrenal cortex, while others known as ‘phytoestrogens’ can mimic the hormones in the body therefore providing natural hormonal treatments. That being said, the quality of essential oils used is paramount to both the safety and success of treatment.
Going back to the common perception of aromatherapy being inherently linked to massage, its not uncommon for therapists to actually exclude massage from treatment and instead focus on more intensive uses of the essential oils; this is known as “Aromatology”. I strongly believe in this approach and its one I have based my business on. It empowers clients to take more ownership over the positive changes they are making to their health and wellness, all of which can be enjoyed in the comfort of their home. I can share many success stories where individuals have discovered the benefits of natural essential oil solutions to issues they were battling each day and have since never turned back.