Aromatherapy refers to the use of aroma, raised from volatile liquids, originating mainly form plants, for altering mood, or for purported health benefits. The word was coined in the 1920s by French chemist René Maurice Gattefossé. The main branches of aromatherapy include: Home aromatherapy (self-treatment), Clinical aromatherapy (pharmacology) and Aromachology (psychology of odors and their effects on mind). The products used in aromatherapy include essential oils from distillation of plant products, absolutes (extracted oils), hydrosols, infusions, phytoncides, and carrier oils (for dilution).
When aromatherapy is used for the treatment or prevention of disease, a precise knowledge of the bioactivity and synergy of the essential oils used, knowledge of the dosage and duration of application, as well as, naturally, a medical diagnosis, are required. Aromatherapy works not only through inhalation, but also through absorption through skin, through mucous membranes and simple ingestion. It is based on therapeutic effects like antiseptic effects, anesthetic action, effect on nervous system, through metabolic and endocrinal action, or through psychological effects. Skeptics argue that while pleasant scents can be relaxing, lowering stress and related effects, there is currently insufficient scientific proof of the effectiveness of aromatherapy.
The term "aromatherapy" has been applied to such a wide range of products that almost anything which contains essential oils is likely to be called an "aromatherapy product", rendering the term somewhat meaningless in that context. Despite this, aromatherapy is among the fastest growing fields in alternative and holistic medicine. Aromatherapy is sometimes used in clinics and hospitals for treatment of pain relief, for labor pain, for relieving pain caused by the side effects of the chemotherapy, and for the rehabilitation of cardiac patients.
This section of the webdirectory offers a detailed listing of institutions and people offering aromatherapy services.