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Aroma Therapy (Part1)

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While writing this article I'm enjoying the fragrance of musk, which comes out of a traditional Indian fragrance cone. This fragrance positively elevates your mood.

In the pharmaceutical world there is a branch which is based on the use of aromatic plants and fragrances as remedies. It is known as "aromatherapy".

Aromatherapy has been popular since ancient Roman times. The word "aromatherapy" is divided into two words; "aroma" which means fragrance and "therapy" which means a remedy or a way to relieve physical symptoms.

The ancient Romans put their hands on many fragrances that could relieve stress and aid in relaxation. For example, they used lavender baths for relaxation. In aromatherapy, we use essential oils.

What Does "Essential Oils" Mean?
Any aromatic plant has essential oils. As essential oils are the natural fragrance of aromatic plants, these scents are manufactured by the plants themselves and held in their tissues, only to be released when touched or by the heat of the sun. Of all the plants on earth, only about one percent contains essential oils.

Top Advice for Using Essential Oils:
There are several simple ways to use essential oils in aromatherapy, including baths, inhalation and massage.

Top Tip: A 20-Minute Bath

  • To relieve stress and tension, run a bath to a comfortable temperature.
  • Take one essential oil and sprinkle a maximum of four drops. Alternatively, combine two essential oils and sprinkle three drops each onto the surface of the water.
  • Agitate the water gently to disperse the oils before getting in.
  • If you have dry or sensitive skin, you can dilute the essential oil in 20 ml of full cream milk.
  • A simple relaxation combination is three drops of lavender and sandalwood

Top Tip: 15-20 Minute Inhalation
This method helps to relieve colds, flu or sinus problems.

  • You need a large bowl, just over half full of nearly boiling hot water.
  • Sprinkle two drops each of eucalyptus and tea tree onto the surface.
  • Wrap your head with a towel and inhale the aromatic steam for 15-20 minutes.
  • Warning: remove your glasses or contact lenses so they don't steam up or irritate the eyes.

Top Tip: Vaporise Your Room
Vaporisers gently heat up to evaporate the essential oil and disperse its fragrance into a room. You can buy a ceramic burner with tea light candles or one of the many electric models available.

Note: You should follow the manufacture's guidelines when using the oil.

  • Take one essential oil and use four drops or combine two oils and use three drops each to scent the room in two hours.
  • You can use tea tree and lemon essential oils to remove unpleasant odours, or choose your favourite aroma to create an environment that suits your mood.

Top Tip: Treat Yourself with a Massage

  • When using essential oils for massage, they need to be diluted in carrier oil. Carrier oil can be grape seed oil, almond oil or jojoba oil.
  • We can use 20 ml of carrier oil with 10 ml of essential oils as a massage.
  • The mixture should be stored in a clean glass bottle. Shake the bottle well before use. Your blend may last for a maximum of four weeks.

Try Aromatherapy Yourself!
I will present to you some plants easily found which can be used in aromatherapy. Try it yourself and see the amazing results of aromatherapy. 


Turmeric (root) Curcuma Longal
Plant Profile:
Turmeric is a plant that looks very much like ginger, with tall shoots and abundant elegant leaves. It is a member of the same botanical family. The higher aromatic roots are bright yellow. The roots are cleaned and sun dried before being grounded as a spice or distilled for the oil. India and Indonesia are the main producers.

Safety Information:
No issues.

Fragrance Profile:
It has a dry, musty, and vegetable like aroma; sweet and spicy as it evaporates.

Main Use:

  • Soothes and eases backache and muscle pain.
  • Improves circulation.
  • Tones and improves digestion.
  • Eases stomach cramps and constipation.
  • Very stabilising and grounding to overwrought emotions.
  • Energises the body.

 Suggested Blends:

  • For aches and pains add four drops of turmeric, four drops of ginger and two drops of vetiver to 20 ml of carrier oil and massage it gently to the effected area.
  • Cramps and indigestion can be eased by blending four drops of turmeric, two drops of lemongrass and four drops of ginger in 20 ml of carrier oil. Massage the blend on the abdomen.
  • For emotional tension, add one drop of turmeric, two drops of neroli and two drops of ginger to a warm bath.  Bath for 20 minutes.


Sandalwood (wood) Santalum Album

Plant Profile:
The best quality sandalwood comes from the Mysore region in India, near Bangalore. It takes 30 years for the wood to mature to its full aromatic potential. The wood is used in distillation of sandalwood oil. It is also powdered for making incense sticks and cosmetics.

Safety Information:
No issues.

Fragrance Profile:
This beautiful oil should be thick and a pale golden colour, with a subtle aroma at first, deepening to a rich, woody, spicy, sweet fragrance as it evaporates.

Main Uses:

  • Eases tight chesty coughs, colds, and sore throats.
  • Soothes dry chapped skin and improves the texture of all skin types.
  • Eases depression, anxiety and feelings of panic.

Suggested Blends:

  • For coughs, add three drops of sandalwood, three drops of cedar wood and four drops of lemon to 20 ml of carrier oil and massage gently over the chest area.
  • For skin care, blend six drops of sandalwood, two drops of patchouli and two drops of rose in 20 ml of jojoba oil. Massage it to the face in the evening.
  • To ease anxiety or depression, add three drops of sandalwood and two drops of orange to a warm bath and bathe for 20 minutes. Add the same oils to 10 ml of carrier oil and massage into the skin afterwards.


Peppermint (leaf) Mentha Piperita

Plant Profile:
It is a tall vigorous mint with a very invasive habit; ask any gardener. It spreads rapidly through a tough root system. The square erect stem supports deep green aromatic leaves.

Peppermint essential oil mostly comes from the USA, where it is used to flavour toothpaste and chewing gum.

Safety Information:
If your skin is sensitive, use half the stated drops of peppermint in any blend due to the menthol contained in the oil which can act as an irritant.

Fragrance Profile:
Pungent, fresh, zesty and minty aroma with a sweet note later.

Main Uses:

  • Eases stomach cramps, indigestion, constipation and nausea.
  • Helps in muscular aches and pains, eases headaches and migraines.
  • Also clears the head and improves concentration.

Suggested Blends:

  • Indigestion symptoms can be helped by massaging the abdomen with two drops of peppermint, four drops of ginger and four drops of cardamom in 20 ml of carrier oil.
  • For aches and pains, massage daily with two drops of peppermint, four drops of rosemary and four drops of black pepper in 20 ml of carrier oil.
  • To ease headache, add two drops of peppermint and three drops of lavender to 20 ml of carrier oil and massage the forehead and neck.
  • To clear the mind, vaporise two drops of peppermint and three drops of lemon.


Geranium Pelargonium Graveoles

Plant Profile:
A leaf of this plant contains hairs. Rubbing the surface hair releases a strong rosy aroma onto your fingers. The germanium grows like a shrub, up to 1 meter high, and has pinkish flowers. The essential oil has a powerful floral aroma. We can find it in Egypt, China and India. 

Safety Information:
No issues.

Main Uses:

  • Soothes cracked and inflamed skin, eczema, dermatitis and acne.
  • Eases premenstrual symptoms, such as:
  • Lack of energy and fluid retention.
  • Soothes mood swings.
  • Helps to balance hormonally related emotional upsets.

Suggested Blends:

  • For skin problems add three drops of germanium, three drops of sandalwood and four drops of lavender to 20 ml of carrier oil and apply it to the area as needed.
  • To ease premenstrual symptoms, try adding three drops of germanium and three drops of petitgrain to a warm bath.

In the next issue, we will know more about aromatherapy and plants used in it.
Radwa Samir -

Radwa Samir has a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from Cairo University.


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