What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy (or essential oils therapy) is a complementary holistic practice of using essential oils to improve physical and emotional health and well-being. Considered as an art and a science, aromatherapy has been gaining more and more recognition in the fields of science and medicine. With new scientific studies providing benefits of using essential oils, there is an increasing interest in aromatherapy as a natural holistic health care alternative to allopathic medicine and synthetic drugs.

Essential oils are aromatic concentrated extracts obtained from various parts of plants, herbs, flowers, fruits, woods and spices. They contain the life force of the plant and are composed of many constituents (up to a 100 bioactive chemicals in each oil) that have therapeutic properties.
Aromatherapy treatment works through the sense of smell (inhalation method) or skin absorption (topical application to skin method) which can be used alone or in combination.
Since essential oils therapy is a complimentary therapy, it is not meant to replace your current medical prescriptions. If in doubt, you may need to talk to your doctor before starting your sessions. A professional aromatherapist will always take your full health history to ensure your aromatherapy treatment plan works together with any medical care you are receiving.

What are the aromatherapy benefits?

Aromatherapy has an array of benefits, such as: managing pain; improving sleep quality; treating headaches and migraines; reducing stress; fighting bacteria, viruses or fungi; boosting immunity; soothing sore joints; improving digestion, and much more. Essential oils are widely used in natural beauty products and perfumery.
However, with increased popularity of aromatherapy many companies on the market create and sell low-grade products with aromas derived from synthetic scents, which offer no therapeutic value whatsoever. True aromatherapy is all about natural, with no artificial and synthetic ingredients involved. Therefore it is important to purchase your oils from a reputable supplier if using at home, as well as to obtain an aromatherapy service from a qualified specialist to ensure the best quality. In Canada, aromatherapy is not regulated by the government. The Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists (www.cfacanada.com) is a professional organization providing certification to ensure that an aromatherapist is trained to professional standards for the safety of the public, whom (s)he serves.
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Inhalation Method

One of the quickest, easiest, least expensive and most effective ways to use and benefit from essential oils. This method is used to combat stress, depression, tiredness or any emotional problem, as well as for treating such respiratory conditions as coughs, colds, nasal congestion and sore throats.

Skin Application

Essential oils are highly concentrated and should never be applied directly on skin or near eyes. For safe skin application they are always diluted in a carrier oil and are effectively used in beauty products, in aroma massage and in synergistic blends for treating pain and specific health conditions.

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Aromatherapy Safety

Although most essential oils are safe to use, it is important to be aware of potential side effects such as allergic reaction, irritation and sensitization if used improperly. Therefore seeking credible information sources and qualified advice is crucial.
As general guidelines, here are the key principles of essential oils safety:
  • Never apply undiluted essential oils to your skin (unless advised to do so by the qualified practitioner). There are exceptional cases when some essential oils can be applied undiluted (such as burns), but always confirm with qualified resources first.
  • Do not take a bath with undiluted essential oils in it: water and essential oils do not mix.
  • Do not ingest essential oils unless prescribed to do so by a licensed and qualified medical practitioner.
  • Essential oils are flammable and should not be used in a closed proximity to a naked flame.
  • Some essential oils are phototoxic and should not be applied prior to UV light exposure (e.g. bergamot, bitter orange, mandarine/tangerine).
  • Store essential oils tightly capped in a cool dark place out of reach of children and pets.
  • Caution should be taken when using essential oils with young children, elderly people, during pregnancy, if you have a skin condition, epilepsy or asthma, are on a course of treatment with prescribed medication.
Risk needs to be balanced with benefit. If every substance that has caused at least one known allergic reaction was forbidden in personal care products, there would be no personal care products, and if every essential oil was used at a level that presented zero risk, there might be no benefits at all.
Robert Tisserand, one of the world's leading experts in aromatherapy

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