What is Aromatherapy?


Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy and a natural way to promote healing. It is based on the use of essential oils to heal the body, mind, and spirit.

These oils are extracted from flower, herb, and tree parts. They can be inhaled or applied to the skin. Aromatherapy may help ease symptoms of CFS such as fatigue and pain.


The use of essential oils is a natural form of healing that dates back thousands of years. It is a natural alternative to pharmaceuticals and an excellent way to enhance beauty and promote wellness. The ancients used plants, herbs and resins to create incense, perfumes and healing preparations. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, recommended aromatic baths and scented massage to treat disease.

Modern-day aromatherapy began in 1910 when French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse invented the term. He burned his hand in a laboratory explosion and treated it with Lavender oil, which prevented gangrene and healed his burn wounds. He analyzed the chemical composition of these oils and wrote the first book on their pharmacology.

Gattefosse coined the term “aromatherapy” to describe his discovery that the scent of a pure essential oil affects both mind and body. The therapeutic use of essential oils has since become a popular treatment amongst estheticians, nurses, therapists and doctors. It is now used worldwide to reduce stress and depression, and for a variety of other medical conditions.


Essential oils are highly concentrated, making them a powerful botanical medicine. They are distilled from parts of plants, including bark, leaves, roots and flowers. Oils are used in a variety of ways, from diffusing them at home to incorporating them into body lotions and hair sprays.

Some studies suggest that aromatherapy can help ease cancer symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue and depression. Oils that boost energy, such as bergamot and peppermint, may be beneficial. Lavender and chamomile are calming and can improve sleep. Other calming oils, such as neroli and rose, can help with anxiety or insomnia.

Aromatherapy is often used for pain management, as well. Some patients undergoing chemotherapy report that frankincense (Boswellia carterii) is effective in relieving aches and pains and reducing stress. Some people also use aromatherapy to enhance massage therapy. A few drops of an aromatherapy oil can be incorporated into a massage for added benefits, such as relaxation and stress relief.

Side effects

Aromatherapy involves breathing in the scent of oil, or using it on your skin during a massage or bath. It can also help to ease headaches, anxiety and insomnia. It is thought to work by stimulating the smell receptors in your nose, which then send a message to the part of your brain that controls emotions.

A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience found that scents like lavender and rosemary improved alertness, competency on math problems and overall mood in 40 adults who were tired and irritable. But because the oils used in aromatherapy aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it is important to work with an experienced practitioner.

Lemon essential oil is a strong antiseptic and is useful for cleaning wounds, removing blemishes from oily skin, counteracting acidity and ulcers and treating fungal infections like candidiasis [53]. It is also helpful in relieving the first stage of labor pain. Its mood elevating properties also relieve stress, promote relaxation and rejuvenate the body for a good night sleep [54]. [55]


Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be toxic if used incorrectly. Before using them, make sure they are well-diluted in a “carrier oil” and that a skin patch test is performed to check for any sensitivity. They should not be ingested (although this is sometimes suggested for some digestive issues), and they should never be placed near an open flame, as they are highly flammable.

Pregnant women should avoid aromatherapy and other treatments involving massage, as the essential oils can be absorbed into the placenta, potentially harming the fetus. Women with high blood pressure should avoid stimulating oils, such as rosemary and spike lavender. Women with estrogen-dependent cancers should avoid oils containing compounds similar to estrogen, such as fennel, aniseed and clary sage.

When choosing an aromatherapy product, look at the ingredient list to ensure that it is all-natural and contains only pure essential oils. Often, products labeled with the word “aromatherapy” contain synthetic ingredients, which offer no benefits and may actually be harmful. Look for a company that lists the Latin name of each oil, as this is an indication of its purity.