Aromatherapy is the treatment or prevention of disease by use of essential oils. Other stated uses include pain and anxiety reduction, enhancement of energy and short-term memory, relaxation, hair loss prevention, and reduction of eczema-induced itching.
Two basic mechanisms are offered to explain the effects. One is the influence of aroma on the brain, especially the limbic system through the olfactory system. The other is the direct pharmacological effects of the essential oils.
In the English-speaking world, practitioners tend to emphasize the use of oils in massage.
Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds for improving psychological or physical well-being.
It can be offered as a complementary therapy or, more controversially, as a form of alternative medicine. Complementary therapy can be offered alongside standard treatment, with alternative medicine offered instead of conventional, evidence-based treatments.
Aromatherapists, who specialize in the practice of aromatherapy, utilize blends of therapeutic essential oils that can be issued through topical application, massage, inhalation or water immersion to stimulate a desired response.
The use of essential oils for therapeutic, spiritual, hygienic and ritualistic purposes goes back to a number of ancient civilizations including the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans who used them in cosmetics, perfumes and drugs.
The modes of application of aromatherapy include: