What is Aromatherapy?

What is Aromatherapy?


Aromatherapy is the study of Essential Oils and their effects on mental and physical health. The exact origins of this practice are difficult to pinpoint. Some speculate that even the earliest hominids, as they were discovering fire burned whatever flowers and plants they found noticing the aromas released and their effects.

The earliest evidence of aromatherapy can be traced back to the time of the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt They burned incense during religious ceremonies as a way better communicate with the gods. The Egyptians were also the first to discover the medicinal benefits of Aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy has appeared in many cultures in some form throughout the years. However, the term wasn’t coined until 1937.  French Chemist and Perfumer Rene -Maurice Gattefosse experienced an accidental explosion in his lab that resulted in severe burns to his hands. The substance he used to treat himself? Lavender Oil; his hands healed quickly and without scarring. Gattefosse noted that Lavender was a natural antiseptic, and began to explore it and other oils.  He eventually published a book, Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy, in which he first used the term.

Aromatherapy has been adopted primarily as a means to reduce stress and improve mental health. Several Essential Oils reduce the levels of the stress causing hormone, cortisol. Some have even been found to help combat Depression.

When combined with carrier oils such as coconut oil, topical solutions have been found to heal sore muscles and help frequent headaches.  The process by which the oils is absorbed into the skin relaxes muscles, speeding up recovery time. When applied to the chest, some oils help to combat headaches and respiratory issues as well.


At the root of the limited research available on Essential Oils and Aromatherapy is relaxation. These oils have a way of communicating through our brain in order to reduce the stress or Anxiety. Molecules from diffused or perfumed oils ender the limbic system through the airway. The limbic system is the structure within the brain that connects to the hippocampus, hypothalamus and amygdala. These three areas control emotion and stress.

Peppermint Oil has a unique effect when applied as a topical solution. When applied to injured muscles, the oil is absorbed into the bloodstream through the muscle. The natural cooling properties of it push the lactic acid out of the muscle, relaxing it.

The Benefits of Aromatherapy

Learn More About the Benefits of Aromatherapy

For more information on how aromatherapy may benefit you, read our in-depth article. We took a deep dive and looked at published information, including numerous studies on the subject.

Read more: the benefits of aromatherapy.

Essential Oils & Incense

Essential Oils are ether diffused, perfumed or applied topically. They are the root essence of a variety of plants, seed and spices. Incense is burned. It can come in a number of forms, none more identifiable than the joss stick.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential Oils are the natural essence of a variety of plants, seed or spices. They are extracted through a process called Distillation. The material is placed in a still where water or steam brakes it down, forcing the oil from it.

There are a number of ways to use essential oils. A newly popular method is Ultrasonic Diffusion. You can find these diffusers just about anywhere now. They breakdown the oils into micromolecules and spread throughout a space in an aromatic mist.

Learn More About Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used for generations as natural remedies for many injuries and illnesses. However, it wasn’t until the 1930s that their benefits began to be seriously explored.

Read more: what are essential oils?

What is Incense?

Incense is the combination of essential oils and other biotic materials. There are different types of incense on the market. None of which is more recognizable than the Joss Stick.

Joss Sticks are solid, combustible forms of Incense; that means they need a direct heat source in order for use. Joss Sticks have no solid core and are formed using a hydraulic press and then left to dry for a few days.

Indian incense, is another popular form that is often made by hand. A paste comprised of oils and other natural material is formed around a stick before being left to dry. This process is in most cases, still done by hand today. Incense also appears in cones and can be non-combustible as well, requiring a secondary heat source.

What is Incense?

Learn More About Incense

With a history stretching further back than essential oils – incense has played a role in society and healing for many years. Learn more about incense, including its origins, uses, and effects on the body and mind.

Read more: what is incense?

Where Aromatherapy is Best Utilized

The mental health benefits of Aromatherapy make it a common form of additional treatment in some areas. Yoga practitioners for example, are trained in the best way to apply it to their practice. It’s topical benefits see it used by Massage Therapists in natural massage oils

Aromatherapy Enhances Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy

As mentioned above, Peppermint Oil has unique qualities as a muscle relaxant. It’s often combined with a carrier oils and applied to the skin; but Massage Therapists can also choose utilize it aromatically as well.

In an effort to promote relaxation and calm, they might burn incense or use a diffuser to set the mood.

Aromatherapy Can Enhance Your Physiotherapy Experience


There are a lot of similarities in the way Aromatherapy is used in Physio as it is in massage. Healing a muscle injury can take time and a person’s cortisol level may impede that.

Therapists may suggest the at-home application of natural oils to help relax the muscle before bed. They could also use them in their clinics to promote relaxation.

Aromatherapy Can Enhance & Benefit Yoga


Yoga Practitioners must receive special training in aromatherapy before including in their practice. They may use Cedarwood Oil.

Extracted from cedar wood chips, this oil relieves stress and Anxiety while providing a spiritual lift.

Aromatherapy Can Enhance Meditation

Meditation & Relaxation

Aromatherapy is best applied to Focused Meditation. Lavender is highly recommended for this application as it is said by experts to be the most relaxing scent. Practitioners recommend the use of incense in this instance. Beginners are encouraged to focus on the smoke from the incense as a technique to focus.

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