What is Aromatherapy?


The Basics

 Essential Oils have become very popular in the last 15 years. At Life Thyme Botanicals we hear that question from time to time. If you asked this question to 10 different people you may very well get ten different answers. We will attempt to explain the basic answer to the question of: “What is aromatherapy?”

 In its simplest terms: Aromatherapy consists of the two words, Aroma and the word Therapy. Aroma is defined as a very distinctive, usually appealing fragrance or smell. The word Therapy is defined as a treatment designed to relieve something. By putting the two words together Aroma + Therapy = Smell Relief.

 When you inhale fragrances through the nose they enter the nose and permeate the small fine hairs throughout the nasal cavity. Once the small hairs detect and process the scent, the scent signal passes to a part of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system area of the brain controls a multitude of things: Learning, Emotions, Moods and Memory just to name a few. It’s no wonder why smells and fragrances have such a large impact in our lives, our brains process the pleasant fragrances and react in ways that can bring us positive emotions and positive states of mind. The brain can also associate the pleasant fragrance with memory. So in essence smells and fragrances, good or bad, can have a direct effect on our emotions, feelings, and memories.

 When you walk into a room that has cookies baking in the oven or stop to smell a fresh bouquet of flowers do you not get a good feeling or actually say “WOW” that smells wonderful? Of course you do! Smells have a large impact in our lives. If you think about it during your day you will be surprised how different smells can tell you things about your environment and how they can change your mood.

So now you should understand the basics of the question: What is aromatherapy? Now let’s move on to a brief history of aromatherapy.


A brief history of Aromatherapy / Essential Oils / Volatile Oils

 When asking the question, “What is aromatherapy?” , it’s important to understand some history behind the first uses of natural oils. The use of Essential Oils / Volatile Oils has a rich and ancient history in human cultures. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Indians, and Chinese have used Essential Oils / Volatile Oils for a variety of purposes including: perfumes, cosmetics, drugs, and embalming just to name a few.

 A Greek botanist, physician, pharmacologist, and Roman medic named Pedanius Dioscorides lived from approximately 40 AD – 90 AD. He wrote a five volume encyclopedia on the topic of natural herbal medicine called “De Materia Medica”. Essential Oils / Volatile Oils were described in the books as well as his beliefs of the time regarding the healing properties of the oils and herbs.  This five volume encyclopedia was widely read and the knowledge inside was used for more than 1500 years.

 The usage of aromatherapy itself was first introduced in 1907 by a number of European doctors and scientists. The word aromatherapy was first written in print form in 1937 in a book titled “Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales by a French author and chemist named by René-Maurice Gattefossé. Gattefossé’s interest in the subject was founded by an incident in 1910 in which he used Lavender Oil to help a bad burn to his hand.

 Jean Valnet was a French surgeon who was a leading pioneer in the use of Essential Oils / Volatile Oils. During World War II he successfully treated the wounds of soldiers with Essential Oils / Volatile Oils which he stated acted as natural antiseptics to their wounds.


What is typically used in Aromatherapy?

 To understand the full answer to the question, “What is aromatherapy?”, lets dive into what is typically used in aromatherapy. The main substance used in aromatherapy is Essential Oils / Volatile Oils? A simple definition for Volatile Oil is a distilled oil that is extracted from plants. Essential Oils are defined in simple terms as distilled natural oil which is also extracted from plants which typically takes on the fragrance properties of the source plant it was extracted from. So we can see that both terms essentially mean the same thing. The words Volatile Oils and Essential Oils are used commonly together and in their basic form mean that they are natural oils that are extracted from plant sources.


Differences between Fragrances and Essential Oils / Volatile Oils.

 This is an important topic to cover when asking the question: What is aromatherapy? Fragrances are typically associated with perfumes and typically do not have any benefits associated with aromatherapy and Essential Oils / Volatile Oils. Fragrances in perfumes do not normally contain pure natural ingredients; they typically consist of synthetic chemicals which certainly wouldn’t provide any therapeutic benefits. Essential Oils / Volatile Oils derived from natural plant sources do have therapeutic benefits.


What is Essential Oil Synergy / Volatile Oil Synergy?

 When asking the question, “What is aromatherapy?”, its important to learn about oils and oil blends.  It is common practice to blend different Essential Oils / Volatile Oils together to combine their effects for certain purposes. This process of blending the Essential Oils / Volatile Oils together is called Synergy. Many aromatherapists customize Essential Oils / Volatile Oils blends for their client’s needs, essentially blending them together into an entirely new mixture that would be beneficial to the exact needs of the client. We carry a full line of Synergy Oils that have been used throughout history to help people with all sorts of needs additional info here.We also carry a very unique Synergy Essential Oil Bar. Give us a call at Life Thyme Botanicals (816) 318-3707 for more information on our Synergy Oils and our unique Synergy Essential Oil Bar.

Click below to have a look at our Synergy Oils / Essential Oil Blends.

Synergy Oils / Essential Oils


Safe usage of Essential Oils / Volatile Oils / Synergy Oils

 An important thing to keep in mind when asking the question…What is aromatherapy?…is the safe usage of Essential Oils / Volatile Oils. We have already learned that the process of creating natural oils takes natural plant materials and condenses them down into highly potent natural plant oils. Since the natural plants are now in a highly potent Essential Oils / Volatile Oils form there are some safety considerations you should always use.

 It is always recommended to not use the Essential Oils / Volatile Oils directly on the skin without the use of a carrier oil. A carrier oil is essentially an oil that you would mix your Essential Oils / Volatile Oils with in order to dilute the potent raw form of the oil before placing it directly on the skin. There are many carrier oils available:  Sweet Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Apricot Oil, and Walnut Oil just to name a few. Here are a few links to the carrier oils Life Thyme Botanicals carries. Feel free to give us a call at (816) 318-3707 if you have any questions.



A Thank You from Life Thyme Botanicals

 Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about Essential Oils and their usage in aromatherapy. We hope you now have a better understanding to the question: What is aromatherapy? If you have any questions please feel free to give us a call at Life Thyme Botanicals at (816) 318-3707 and allow our helpful staff to help you along your way to understanding more about natural oils and the natural herbs used to create them.


A Quote from Richard Carlson, Ph.D:

 “Wholeness or health is our natural state. The nature of healing involves removing obstructions to this natural state and bringing individuals into alignment with themselves and their world. Free of these obstructions, an individual’s innate intelligence and self-regulating capabilities will guide him toward a state of well being.” — Richard Carlson, Ph.D.