Aromatherapy is becoming one of the fastest growing complementary therapies in the country. It is also gaining recognition from the medical profession.

Aromatherapy takes an holistic approach by searching for the root cause of a problem rather than just treating the symptoms. Aromatherapy is far more than the application of nice smelling essential oils - diet and lifestyle should always be considered.

Aromatherapy dates back to Egyptian times. It is documented that Egyptians  used aromas to help with many emotions, from nervousness to the uplifting of spirits and to aid preparation for war.

The Greeks then developed upon the work done by the Egyptians. Hippocrates, also known as the “father of medicine”, advocated aromatic baths and massage to help with female problems and Theophrastus discovered that applying oils externally had an effect on the internal organs.

It is also known that in Roman times soldiers would carry myrrh with them to heal their wounds in battle. The Romans possessed a great knowledge of plants and many of the herbs we still grow now are from Roman times e.g. parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

It was in the 18th and 19th centuries that aromatherapy declined due to scientists’ ability to identify the chemical constituents of plants and develop synthetic copies which were cheaper and guaranteed to be identical each time.
It was not until 1937 that the term “aromatherapy” was introduced by Rene Maurice Gattefosse, who discovered its healing properties when treating the injured during World War One.

Aromatherapy was introduced to Britain in the 1950s by Marguerite Maury. She added essential oils to carrier oils and then applied them through massage. This is how they are predominately used today, although they can be used in a variety of other ways, some of which include: in creams, baths, inhalations and compresses. Essential oils should only be used under the advice of a qualified aromatherapist. 

How Essential Oils are Produced
Essential oils are sometimes called the "Life Force", "hormones" or "soul" of a plant.  They are extracted from varying parts of plants.  The table below shows some common oils and from which part of the plant they are extracted.
Part of Plant Essential Oil
Flower Rose
Flower Stem Lavender
Flower Bud Clove
Berry Black Pepper
Bark Cinnamon
Wood Sandalwood
Fruit Bergamot, Orange, Lemon & Mandarin
Seeds Fennel
Roots/Rhizomes Ginger & Vetivert
Leaves Eucalyptus
Gum Frankincense, Myrrh
Grasses Lemongrass

Trees - The Orange tree provides three different essential oils;
Orange (from Fruit)
Neroli (from blossom)
Petitgrain (from leaves and twigs)

How they are Extracted
There are a variety of ways in which essential oils can be extracted. The most common way is through steam distillation whereby steam is passed through the plant, breaking down the plant to release the oil. The steam and oil mixture is collected in a cooling tank and upon cooling it returns to liquid water leaving the oil on the surface to be extracted.

The second most common form of extraction is expression. This is mainly used for the citrus oils, such as lemon, lime, grapefruit and bergamot, as the essential oil is found in sacks just under the rind and by pressing the peel the oil is extracted.

The third way is through solvent extraction, a more costly method usually used for flowers, gums and resins., This method produces absolutes and resnoids and because there is always some residue of the solvent they cannot be called 100% pure. Absolutes are often adulterated to keep the cost down. Always beware if an absolute is cheap as the likelihood is that it has been blended with another oil.
Why do essential oils vary in price?

Prices vary for many reasons:

1.   How available is the plant?
2.   What method of extraction is used?
3.   Was it a good harvest?
4.   The weather
5.   The quantity of the plant needed to produce just one drop of the essential oil.

Some oils are very expensive because of the labour-intensive work involved. Distillation and other methods of extraction can result in only a 1-2% yield.

For example;
100Kg of raw product Yield in Essential Oil
Lavender 3Kg
Eucalyptus 3Kg
Frankincense 5Kg - 10Kg
Ylang Ylang 1.6Kg - 2Kg
Juniper 500g
Rose Petals 33g

It takes 30 roses to produce one single drop of Rose Oil!

Oils & Chakras
Essential oils have long been associated with chakras. Click on the chakras shown on the image below to learn more.
1st/Base or Root Chakra
Oils: Myrrh, Rosewood, Vetiver.
Colour = Red
Element = Earth
Sound = LAM
Minerals = Tiger's Eye, Smoky Quartz, Hematite
2nd/Sacral or Lower Abdomen
Oils: Rose Otto, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang and Sweet Orange
Colour = Orange
Element = Water
Sound = VAM
Minerals = Red Jasper, Ruby
3rd/Solar Plexus
Oils: Juniper, Neroli, Petitgrain, Vetiver
Colour = Yellow
Element = Fire
Sound = RAM
Minerals = Citrine, Yellow Jasper
4th/Heart Chakra
Oils: Bergamot, Rose Geranium, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang
Colour = Green
Element = Air
Sound = YAM
Minerals = Aventurine, Rose Quartz
Oils: Lavender, Clary Sage and Palmarosa
Colour = Blue
Element = Ether
Sound = HAM
Minerals = Aquamarine, Blue Lace Agate, Turquoise
6th/Brow or Third Eye
Oils: Juniper, Rosemary, Helicrysum
Colour = Indigo
Element = Mind
Sound = OM
Minerals = Kyanite, Lapis Lazuli, Sodalite, Sugilite
7th/Crown Chakra
Oils: Frankincense, Rosewood, Mandarin Orange
Colour = Violet
Sound = OM
Element = Spirit
Mineral = Amethyst or Clear Quartz