Aromatherapy means “treatment using scents”. It has been prevalent since the beginning of civilization. Aromatherapy is the systematic use of essential oils in holistic treatments to improve physical and emotional well-being.  Essential oils, extracted from plants, possess distinctive therapeutic properties, which can be utilised to improve health and prevent disease.  These natural plant oils are applied in a variety of ways:
   - Massage (most used method)
   - Baths (add a few drops to warm water)
   - Inhalations (not for asthmatics). Aromatherapy is an especially effective
     treatment for stress related problems and a variety of chronic conditions.


Initially, aromatherapy gained pop­ularity in the UK as a beauty treat­ment however the increasing recognition of its therapeutic potential by orthodox health care profes­sionals has made it one of our fastest-growing complementary therapies in the UK.   
Essential Oils
I An essential oil is an aromatic, volatile substance extracted from a single botanical source by distillation or expression. There are some 400 essential oils extracted from plants all over the world. Some of the popular oils used in aromatherapy today include:-


Research has shown that when they are applied to the skin or inhaled, essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream and metabolised in the body, similar to other substances.  Many essential oils possess signifi­cant anti-microbial properties, in both liquid and vapour form. Clinical trials have shown that tea tree oil is highly effective in treating thrush. Another study has shown that aromatherapy massage with lavender oil was significantly more effective than both plain oil massage and a control group, in reducing heart rate, respi­ration, blood pressure and pain in patients in a hospital intensive care unit.
Essential oils are naturally highly concentrated and must be diluted before being applied, usually in a car­rier oil for massage but there are other carrier media such as cream, lotion and of course water. As the essential oils are so concen­trated they should always be used with extreme care - preferably under the guidance of a professionally trained aromatherapist. They should never be taken inter­nally or ingested in any way, so keep your bottles out of the reach of children.
Aromatherapy sessions
The aromatherapist will ask questions about your medical history, general health and lifestyle. This will help him or her decide which essen­tial oils are most appropriate for you as. an individual and take into account any contraindications and cautions.
Essential oils contain a wide range of natural occurring chemicals and it is important that the aromatherapist uses the correct oils for each individual. Some oils are contraindicated with people suffering circulatory disor­ders and high blood pressure for example. The aromatherapist may wish to contact your GP, with your permission, to inform him or her that you are receiving aromatherapy treatments.
After selecting and blending appro­priate essential oils, the aromatherapist will usually apply the oils in combination with massage. A session normally lasts for 60 to 90 minutes, and usually costs between £25 and £60, depending on where you are in the country and the experience of the practitioner.
Regulation of the UK Aromatherapy Profession
The Aromatherapy Consortium has united the UK aromatherapy profes­sion and is the emerging regulatory body. Contact them to find out about training and also to find a qualified aroma therapist in your area who has trained to the nationally agreed standards.