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Aromatherapy, a misnomer or reality

The practice of using essential oils taken from plants, flowers, roots, seeds etc. for healing in called Aromatherapy. French chemist ReneMaurice Gattefosse coined the term in the 1920s.

According to Robert Todd Carrolls The Skeptics Dictionary, the term is incorrect as aromas of oils, whether natural or synthetic, are generally not therapeutic. Carroll states that aromas are used to identify the oils, to determine adulteration, to stir the memory, but not for healing purpose. It is the essence of the oil its chemical properties that gives it whatever therapeutic value the oil might have. Vapours are used in some but not for all the cases of aromatherapy. In some cases oil is rubbed onto the skin or ingested into tea or any other liquid. Some consider cooking with herbs a type of aromatherapy.

As aromatherapists went on with dubious claims, Stephen Barrett, MD, looked into these claims at One of the companies he looked at is Aroma Vera, Inc., of
Los Angeles. This company claims: essential oils have the power to purify the air we breathe while they relax, stimulate, soothe or sharpen our senses . . . a wonderful antidote to the air pollution and scentsory imbalance of modern life. It also claims inhaling the scents balances the biological background, revitalizes the cells, and produces a strong energizing effect on the sympathetic nervous system.

Joint Adventure, of Rogers, Arkansas, states that essential oils can be used for "many different purposes from athletes foot to enlightenment and almost every point between!"

One more practitioner is in Dr. Barretts growing dossier. This practitioner claims that the technique addresses the nervous system and the energy fields of the body. It soothes the body, cleans the body, clears the body, and tones the body. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood, states there are about 300 essential oils that constitute an extremely effective medical system.

In the Skeptics Dictionary, Carroll concludes: I would not reject aromatherapy out of hand, however. When I have a cold and a stuffy nose, Ill use Vicks VapoRub, a mixture of camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil. Strictly speaking, I suppose I am a practicing aromatherapist. However, when I look at what people who call themselves aromatherapists claim, I have to conclude that aromatherapy is a mostly a pseudoscientific alternative medical therapy. It is a mixture of folklore, trial and error, anecdote, testimonial, New Age spiritualism and fantasy.

I agree with Carrolls findings. I recently bought a Marjoram scent from Aromas Naturales, a company based in Spain and with ISO 9001 certification. I first had my dad use it at night, to test its claim that it will eliminate snoring. My purchase had a 40day guarantee. Guess what? I ended up not returning it, although I was highly skeptical at first. I even bought another jar for myself.

Bottomline is, it hasnt totally eliminated snoring from what my family members tell me, but it sure has eliminated a major portion of it. And my mom attests to that. She sleeps better now in my dads room.

About the Author:

Rilsto Mathe is the designer of Aromatherapy Group Inc. which is the premier resource for aromatherapy information. for more facts visit:


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