Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use, by inhalation or topical application, of aromatic compounds found in many medicinal plants. They may be used for physical, emotional or spiritual health.
Essential oils are the mainstay of Aromatherapy, and are described scientifically as volatile oils. These “oils” which are different than the fatty oils we use for culinary purposes, like olive oil, nut or seed oils, are the concentrated scents found in many plants. In the plant these compounds may be employed for pest repulsion or pollinator attraction. They are generally extracted by steam distillation. Other processes – cold pressing, CO2 extraction, solvent extraction and fat extraction might be chosen based on the final intended use. Different plant parts may be the primary source of an essential oil. Plants store their aromatic compounds in flowers, leaves, wood, roots, resins and seeds. Some plants offer us different essential oils, depending on which part of the plant is used. How an Aromatherapist chooses which essential oils to offer a client for a desired outcome is based on many factors, including but not limited to, aroma, chemistry, application method and personal information from the client.