What Is Aromatherapy, Exactly?

Answering the question, “What is aromatherapy?” can be both amazingly simple and mind-boggling complex. The short answer is this:

“Aromatherapy is the use of scent to promote healing in the body.”

But to the thousands of aromatherapy enthusiasts who incorporate volatile organic extracts–what most people call essential oils–into every facet of their daily lives, “aromatherapy” is much more than just sniffing a smell and then feeling better. To them, only scents from plants will do. (There is no aromatherapy based on animal products, for example.)

After that, though, there is little agreement. Ask six aromatherapists how it all works and you may get six different answers. Here are the first six I found on only the first page of a recent Bing search:

  • When essential oil vapors are inhaled, those molecules travel to the brain, where they stimulate the part of the brain responsible for our emotions.
  • Essential oils have a vibrational energy that corresponds to the vibrational energy of the body, promoting healing and maintaining health.
  • When essential oil molecules are inhaled, they travel to the part of the brain responsible for traumatic memories; they encourage the brain to let go of traumas.
  • Essential oils are made up of many of the same chemicals as pharmaceutical drugs so when they’re absorbed, inhaled or consumed they act much like medications.
  • Essential oils mimic hormones and since hormones run everything, essential oils maximize our body’s natural functions.
  • In the body, essential oils absorb our thoughts and turn them into intent.

If some–or most–of that sounds a little too “out there” for you, you’re not alone. At the Essential Oil Database we’ll give a nod to the folklore around aromatherapy but our main focus is on the growing body of scientific research.

I hope you’ll join us.

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