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Aromatherapy is a treatment using natural fragrant plant oils applied topically usually in association with massage. Whilst it should not make any medical claims it can assist the bodies natural defence and reparative systems and help with overall well being.

In This Article
History of Aromatherapy How does it work?
A typical appointment What to expect
Timings/ Cost/ Sessions Is it right for you?
Debate on the historical origins of Aromatherapy is ongoing with many texts placing its beginnings around 6,000 years ago. Ancient Chinese, Indian and Greek civilisations all proposed the benefits of scented oils for relaxation and healing. Ancient Egyptian civilisations used aromatherapy for medicinal and cosmetic purposes and a combination of oils were used to embalm their dead.

During the early 20th century, a French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé, was the first to use the term 'aromatherapy' after studying its effects for medicinal use. Gattefossé had previously used oils for aromatic purposes but when he suffered a burn on his arm while working, he instinctively looked for a liquid to cool it in. The nearest liquid to him was a vat of lavender oil. Gattefossé noted how quickly the oil eased the pain and that later the burn healed without any trace of a scar.

The study of aromatherapy among English speaking nations is credited to Robert B. Tisserand. Tisserand wrote the first book in English on aromatherapy and opened the first aromatherapy institute. Tisserand's book became an essential reference and influenced aromatherapy authors and practitioners for the next three decades.

Aromatherapy is a holistic therapy treating the body both emotionally and physically by using essential oils extracted from flowers, fruits, shrubs and trees. These oils, when inhaled through the nose or absorbed through the skin, contribute to and aid the body's natural healing process. Aromatherapy is usually carried out using massage techniques, baths or inhalations.

Smells from aromatherapy oils can be attributed to pleasant memories. The scent from aromatic oils can trigger cells in the nasal cavity which send electrical impulses to the limbic system - the part of the brain that deals with emotions and memory, giving a person a sense of well-being.

Aromatherapy also treats conditions through topical application. For instance with bruises, acne or burns, essential oils can be applied that penetrate the skin through hair follicles and sweat glands. These oils are absorbed into the body's fluids helping to fight bacteria or viruses and boosting the immune system.

Be prepared - It is advisable to choose an aromatherapy practitioner who is a member of, or is accredited by, an association or professional body. This ensures your aromatherapy session is carried out in a suitable environment and by someone who has received formal training and ongoing development. Members are also bound to a code of ethics and practice. The main aromatherapy organisations are listed at the foot of this article.

Aromatherapy is regulated by the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). The key purpose of CNHC is to act in the public interest and enable proper public accountability of the therapists that it registers.

It is advisable not to drink alcohol on the day of your appointment, drink plenty of water instead. Have a light meal (nothing spicy or fatty) a couple of hours before you see the aromatherapist and avoid any activity that requires too much exertion. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and allow plenty of time to get to your appointment; hurrying will affect your physical and mental well-being and be detrimental to the effects of the therapy.

Be aware that your aromatherapy session may require the practitioner to be hands-on and you will need to be fully or partially undressed during the treatment. Your aromatherapist will provide you with a robe or blanket.

Your aromatherapist will spend time during your first appointment questioning you about your medical history and general health. From this consultation they can decide what oils and techniques are best to treat your condition.

Should massage be recommended, this will be tailored to your individual needs and carried out as a full-body, head/facial or foot massage using essential oils. The aromatherapist will use a combination of up to five different oils diluted in a 'carrier oil'. Carrier oil is needed because essential oils on their own are too strong to use neat. The carrier oil also helps reduce drag on the skin whilst the aromatherapist is massaging.

If massage is not recommended for your condition, your aromatherapist will discuss alternative applications. This may include inhalation through nasal vapours or bath oils. These oils will be blended to your individual needs and generally are not available to the public.

After your treatment, you will be given time to relax and enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy. Many people find aromatherapy extremely relaxing and come away feeling refreshed. As the therapy uses massage, there may be some muscle soreness but this will pass after a day or so. Your aromatherapist will discuss the experience with you and advise you on further sessions. They will also recommend essential oils and products you can use at home.

Your first session with an aromatherapist may take longer than subsequent sessions as your practitioner questions you about your medical history and then recommends a course of treatment. Expect this session to last 60 - 90 minutes if massage is used and any follow-up sessions around 45 - 60 minutes.

The cost of aromatherapy varies so check with your local practitioner before making an appointment. Expect to pay £40 - £60 for your first session with subsequent sessions costing £25 - £40. Any essential oil products that are recommended for use at home will usually incur an additional cost.

The number of treatments you require will depend upon your condition and you will usually attend an average of six sessions on a weekly basis. Once a condition has been treated many people choose to continue with aromatherapy on a monthly basis to keep the body in good health and prevent any further problems developing.

Aromatherapy is a safe and effective therapy and has helped people with various conditions. If you are suffering with broken skin or rashes then oils should not be used topically and cancer patients should consult with their GP and local practitioner before making an appointment.

Aromatherapy is commonly used by pregnant women however the use of certain oils are not recommended. Consult your local aromatherapist who will advise you on the best course of treatment.

This therapy or modality may help with:

Acne Allergies Anxiety
Arthritis Asthma Back Pain
Breathing disorders Bronchitis Catarrh
Childbirth Chronic Fatigue Circulation Problems
Constipation Dementia Depression
Dermatitis Diarrhoea Digestive Problems
Eczema Endometriosis Excessive Sweating
Flu Food sensitivities Hay Fever
Headaches Hyperhidrosis Indigestion
Influenza (Flu) Insomnia Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Itching Joint Pain Menopausal symptoms
Migraines Muscle Cramps Nausea
Panic Attacks Parkinsons disease Period pain
Pregnancy Rheumatism Runny Nose
Shingles Sinusitis Smoking Addiction
Sore throat Stomach cramps Stress
Tiredness Tonsillitis Vomiting

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Featured Aromatherapy Practitioners

Sample Of Practitioners By Location
Aromatherapy Birmingham Aromatherapy Brighton Aromatherapy Bristol
Aromatherapy Cardiff Aromatherapy Coventry Aromatherapy East London
Aromatherapy Edinburgh Aromatherapy Glasgow Aromatherapy Harley Street
Aromatherapy Leeds Aromatherapy Liverpool Aromatherapy London
Aromatherapy Manchester Aromatherapy North London Aromatherapy Nottingham
Aromatherapy Sheffield Aromatherapy South London Aromatherapy West London

About Therapist Qualifications

International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA) International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA) More Info Aromatherapist & Allied Practitioners Association (AAPA) Aromatherapist & Allied Practitioners Association (AAPA) More Info
The Aromatherapists Society (TAS) The Aromatherapists Society (TAS) More Info The Aromatherapy Council (TAC) The Aromatherapy Council (TAC) More Info
Association of Physical & Natural Therapies (APNT) Association of Physical & Natural Therapies (APNT) More Info International Federation Of Aromatherapists (IFA) International Federation Of Aromatherapists (IFA) More Info


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