From ArticleWorld

Aromatherapy, a form of alternative or holistic medicine, is based upon the concept that certain fragrant odors, used on the body or inhaled, can stimulate the limbic (emotion-related) parts of the brain, causing changes in the function of the body and mind.

Theoretical Basis

The concept of aromatherapy is believed to have its origin in France in the 1920s; it remains a part of conventional medical practice in that country. In other parts of the world, however, its use as a true therapeutic tool is controversial. Proponents of aromatherapy believe that inhaling the aroma of essential oils (the volatile part of plant materials) stimulates the olfactory bulb in the nose. The olfactory system has a direct connection to the limbic system in the brain. Inhaling molecules of essential oils then stimulates the limbic system and provides a calming effect, a stimulant effect or other emotional effect on an individual.

Aromatherapy Procedures

Practitioners of aromatherapy also apply the essential oils to the skin and, depending upon the type of oil used, can activate heat receptors in the skin or can destroy bacteria or fungal organisms.

Those who make aromatherapy products carefully choose the plants to utilize and, through distillation, infusion and other extraction techniques, isolate the various essential oils used in their practice. The oil is then diluted, if necessary. Some essential oils include rose oil, certain eucalyptus oils, lemon oil, cinnamon oil and peppermint oil.

While aromatherapy generally involves an inhaled procedure, some practitioners use skin absorption, oral rinses and, less commonly, intestinal absorption through ingesting essential oils, in order to achieve the desired health benefit.


Aromatherapy provides several benefits to the patient, although most have not been proven scientifically. Benefits include effects on mood, stimulation of the immune system, local anesthetic effects, metabolic effects and antiseptic or antimicrobial effects.