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A novice's guide to Aromatherapy

If waking up to the wonderful smell of a pot of Columbian wafting into your room, or maybe catching a whiff of Columbian potn if you lean that way, makes you feel healthy and alive—then you have caught the most fragile fringe edge of what Aromatherapy is all about; sort of.

The term Aromatherapy was first used by a French chemist named René Maurice Gattefossé back in the 1920's. It seemed that he had hit upon an idea that went something like this: Take the essential oils of selected plants and flowers, toss in the oils of some roots and various seeds, mix them all together and voila the patient gets healthy.

Actually, his concept of aromatherapy was a flop because the aroma of the oils have no healing powers at all unless, maybe, they're good for clearing a sinus condition or you're inhaling the vapors of Vicks Vaporub (tm) which, itself, is aromatherapy since it contains the essential oils of camphor, menthol and eucalyptus.

Later experimentation showed that the oils worked a whole lot better if they were rubbed onto the skin or ingested in a sort of friendly witch's brew. As the concept became more widespread it even morphed into including cooking with herbs which is something that the French already did a lot of anyway.

Aromatherapy was such a pleasant sounding word, and sniffing all of those essential oils was rather pleasant in and among itself, that chemists, doctors, and witches continued to pursue the concept in hopes of actually finding some condition that it did cure. They worked at it a very long time.

As we wound our way towards the aromatherapy light of truth people began to discover what they already knew all along. There were certain healing properties found in nature that, when applied to, or ingested by, humans, resulted in desirable things happening. For example: It's long been known that Tea Tree oil is the natural enemy of the staph family of viri. Put a little tea tree oil on an infected wound and poof—the staphylococci and streptococci fall over dead.

Now, here we are peering over the precipice of the 21st century and the whole aromatherapy movement is still alive and well thank you very much. Have scientists and the medical community finally concluded that there was something to Messer Gattefossé's research after all? Yes and no, and yes and no and maybe. What we do 100% accept as fact is that many of the prescription drugs that the pharmaceutical companies charge our insurance companies so much for are actually rooted (no pun intended) in oils and compounds which appear naturally. There are countless alternative health practitioners and new age spiritualists who create and sell all types of creams, lotions, teas and whatnot which are purported to have healing or claiming effects on the body. Do they actually work? It depends upon who you ask.

Here's one thing for sure about aromatherapy and where it fits into your life. If you like pleasant smells, and smelling them calms and relaxes you, or fills you full of vim and vigor, then what's the harm? If you drink a certain tea and your hives go away, good for you! If you apply an herbal lotion to your dry and cracked skin and suddenly you glow like Snow White after the prince planted one on her lips then it works for you. And, after all, isn't that what were all searching for? Something that works for us?