The rose, and it’s almost hypnotizing aroma, was a favorite among the ancient Egyptians. They not only scattered its petals in Roman and Egyptian weddings to guarantee a long, happy marriage but also captured its potent fragrance and concocted perfume using rose-water while again using the petals as a natural home air freshener. It is even said that first century A.D. Queen Cleopatra cleverly used aromatherapy to win the heart of Mark Anthony. History recorded that their first physical encounter was actually on a carpet under a one inch layer of rose petals. She even went as far as to have the sails of her ships saturated in rose-water for the scent to be carried on the breeze to ensure that her lover would would be prepared for her appearance.
Fast forward to the fourteenth century where the Aztecs constructed extravagant heated pools in order to release the pure fragrance from the nicotiana plant, also known as jasmine nicotiana because of its strong, intoxicating, aroma. They also developed a royal drink called xocolatl, which was a blend of cocoa beans, vanilla (from the vanilla plant) and honey. This delicious drink was actually considered to be an aphrodisiac!
The usage of aromatherapy is as diverse as it is extensive and the actual dynamics of it are not quite understood. But there is no denying its effectiveness. Scientists and experts believe that the scent molecules stimulate the brain and give the body a sense of peace and tranquility. The “smell” receptors in the nose send messages to different parts of the brain that operate as storage facilities for ones emotions and memories. When a person breathes in the essential oil particles, it has been found that they stimulate these parts of the brain and influence physical, emotional and mental health. Studies show that Lavender, for example, can have the same effect on the brain as sedative medications. It is also presumed that some molecules from essential oils may interact in the blood with hormones or enzymes.
A skilled aromatherapist will unite different essential oils and as a result get what is called a blend. A perfect analogy of an aromatherapy blend would be to think of it as a “symphony in scent”. Essential oils such as Lemon, Tangerine and Bergamot supply evanescent “top notes” similar to flutes, violins or silver bells. Whereas the essential oils Cedarwood and Sandalwood deliver the “base note” quality similar to the bass, drum, tuba or cello in an orchestra. Other essential oils, like Ginger and Rosemary help to form the body of the competition.
Experts specializing in the intricate detail of coalescing essential oil fragrances attentively and instinctively and applying what history and science have taught over thousands of years are still finding innovative and exceptionally stimulating mixtures that mollify and satiate the human body psychologically and physically.
When used properly, aromatherapy is clinically proven to help alleviate a wide variety of conditions. In general, it seems to relieve pain, improve mood, and promote a sense of relaxation. It’s remarkably helpful to women in labor as well. For years, qualified midwives have used the essential oils particularly from rose, lavender and frankincense to ease the pregnant mothers. During and after delivery the women stated that the powerful and intense aromas were very calming and lessoned the fear and anxiety. They felt as though they had a stronger sense of well-being and less need for pain medications. Many women also reported the usage of peppermint oil and that it completely relieved nausea and vomiting during labor.
Aromatherapy is safe, natural and has been around for centuries. It is becoming more and more accepted in todays modern world. The benefits far outweigh the minimal risks involved in using it.