Aromatherapy is an often misunderstood modality and word. It does not mean something just smells good nor does it mean using adulterated, synthetic essential oils or isolated components created in a lab.
Aromatherapy is Part of Phyto-Therapy
It is a subset of herbalism specific to the therapeutic use of genuine & authentic aromatic plant essences we call essential oils. These plant-based essences are then worked with to holistically support a person’s body, mind and spirit and notably a bodies innate capacity to heal.
There are two main components in aromatherapy, both of which are the direct result of the steam distillation process of pure plant material: the lipophilic (essential oils) and hydrophilic (hydrosols/”waters”) components….
What is an Essential Oil?
Essential oils may be used to expel mucus from the lungs, reduce anxiety, ease an ear infection, help process grief, help alleviate the day-to-day stresses of our lives, even aid in memorization (Shakespeare noted “Rosemary for remembrance” for a reason)–among a myriad of other things. Essential oils are made and used by plants for their benefit (e.g., to attract pollinators or deter pests); over time, humankind has learned how to use plant medicine to help itself in subtle, powerful and profound ways.
What is a Hydrosol?
Hydrosols, unlike their “yang” counterparts, are more “mild” and may be directly sprayed onto the skin and used as a mouth-rinse, among other uses (consult an aromatherapist or a healthcare professional for questions about hydrosols before using). Some are gentle enough for topical use with a baby or pet (again, consult with an aromatherapist…). I use them: daily in a skin toner formula and mouth-rinse, in purified water for consumption and judiciously with my dog for her car anxiety. Unlike essential oils, some hydrosols may be used on open wounds for antiseptic purposes (e.g., a child’s skinned knee). [Note: hydrosols are still WATER and should be treated as such (i.e., kept cold, can spoil…).]