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Olfaction research is still in its infancy. We are only now gaining rudimentary appreciation of how and why essential oil fragrances affect human psychology and physiology even as we slowly trace the mysterious pathways of the brain. In this quest for knowledge, we do well to adopt the reverential attitude of the early alchemists, for by olfaction research the psychology of scent may regain its vital spiritual and metaphysical heritage.
--from Aromatherapy: Scent and Psyche by Peter and Kate Damian

Every Culture Uses Essential Oils Differently:
Choose What Works for You

The use of fragrances to enhance emotional states is by no means new. Herbs, perfumes, and incense have been offered in temples and at religious ceremonies, feasts and social celebrations as far back as recorded history.

With or without scientific corroboration essential oils work and can become essential to our continued health. And like since early times it is used differently in all countries by practitioners involved with divergent arts and sciences.

Aromatherapy approaches in all the cultures we looked at shared one thing. Aromatherapy is never looked at as a stand-alone treatment modality. It is always used in conjunction with other types of therapies.

Arguably, there are many classifications of how essential oils are currently used. We have identified and make use of seven approaches or disciplines.

1. Traditional Cultural Usage

Aromatic plants and oils have been used for thousands of years as incense, perfumes, and for their medical and culinary applications. The traditional or alchemical approach to using plants and oils has been passed down verbally through folklore, old wives tales, and shamans. Often it was based on how they observe animals in the wild use plants. Much of what was discovered by empirical observation is now being confirmed by science and therefore the art of aromatherapy continues and flourishes in our contemporary western, industrialized, and science based society. Today in Tibet sprigs of juniper are burned in Tibetan temples, frankincense at the Roman Catholic mass, and in Indonesia the Ylang ylang flowers are spread on the beds of newly weds. There are hundreds of examples in the available aromatherapy literature and especially in all the encyclopedias of essential oils. This shamanistic or alchemical approach, the oldest and most traditional uses of plant extracts, was limited to whatever grew in their region. Now, we can purchase hundreds of types of essential oil from anywhere in the world.

2. Western and European Medical and Clinical Studies

Although there is a trend toward more holistic thinking in applying aromatherapy and more promotion of healthy life styles in modern society. Throughout the aromatherapy literature of Western and European approaches there is the tendency to look at specific symptoms and prescribe oils to effect or eliminate the symptoms without specifically addressing the overall health of the individual.

In France, the pharmacological effects of essential oils are prescribed by the medical establishment to treat symptoms of a disease the way conventional drugs do but although the directions remains scientific and medicinal it has an alternative or holistic approach.

Germans are developing their own esoteric practices and are doing a lot of research.

In England Aromatherapy has flourished as a form of massage therapy and has more of a nonacademic approach. Similarly Australia has a strong following that imitates some aspects of the British practitioners while emphasizing a little more formal education.

In the United States, primarily massage therapists have embraced aromatherapy and a few holistic alternative medical practitioners have integrated it as one of the modalities that can be used. However, some ground-breaking work is being done by a handful of physicians and PH.D's.

In Europe and the US: Naturopathy

3. Constitutional Medicine

A constitutional physician, in contrast to the symptom focused western doc directs his or her attention to the complete physiological and psychological individual in relation to their total environment. A lot of information is gathered and woven together until a pattern of imbalance is imagined. The therapy prescribed is focused on restoring harmony to the individual. It therefore is also holistic approach but based on a different logic than Western medicine. Here symptoms are looked at in the diagnosis to help grasp the pattern of imbalance but they but the focus of the treatment is not to remove a specific symptom. The difference is hard to describe until you have experienced both. The information on this site is not just based on the extensive research we are constantly involved in but on what many others and I have experienced over many years.

In China and Korea essential oils are used to balance the Five Chinese Elements. We like this approach also because instead of attempting to heal a specific symptom it is more aligned to gathering experiences and making affective choices about the scents we choose to associate with to increase our own abilities at self- care. It has yet to be proved but the constitutional approach may be able to discover and treat a disorder before it is could be diagnosed by even the most scientific western medical technology.

Like the Chinese and Greek physicians Ayurvedic healers serve to reestablish harmony between the individual and the universal life forces, which the Hindu's call "prana" within each person.

We are researching a couple types of constitutional diets popular in the US: one based on blood type, and the other on metabolic typing to see if any of the intelligence from these processes can be translated to applying essential oils.

4. Popular or New Age

Probably the largest aromatherapy market in the US amongst new age enthusiasts, but especially made much of by marketers of cosmetic, bath and body, candle and other natural fragranced products. Bottom line, we all like what smells good and are willing to pay for it. Smell sales.

However, in this popular literature is where we encountered the least consensus amongst practitioners. Not that in it there is something wrong with recommending different essential oils to deal with the same symptoms. We believe because of the great diversity of essential oils they can be combined in many interesting ways to good effect but when entire different families of oils were recommended or the rationale of chemical constitutes was ignored we could not trust the information. Also, surprising that while most authors talked the talk of holistic healing they tended to focus on relieving symptoms. With everyone claiming that they have the best blend to eliminate headaches or whatever it tends to reduce the art of aromatherapy to commercialized recipes as if the right combination of oils is a panacea for all cases of anxiety or stress, etc.

Aromatherapy enjoys the controversy of any alternative healing art because it is an art and not just a strict science. Whether by applying through massage, enjoying in a bath, ingesting, using as a perfume, or diffusing in a room, natural plant derived essential oils is an excellent starting point to explore alternative methods of healing.

5. Commercial Aromachology

Even though they may not be that important to the pharmaceutical industry EO's are a big corporate moneymaker. The professional and commercial study of fragrance, called aromachology, is led by the Fragrance Research Fund, that is supported by the multi- billion dollar cosmetic and fragrance industry. The blending of mostly synthetic chemicals according to aesthetic principles is the art of modern perfumery. This is how I got started working with a dozen perfumers developing fragrances for our candle company. I have meet wizard perfumers that can do magic in creating pleasing fragrances. Synthetics represent at least 70% of the fragrance in even the most expensive perfumes. If we believe something will make us more attractive we will buy it: Sex sells.

6. Natural Perfumery

There are only a handful of very talented natural perfumers who still use only pure essential oils to make 100% natural perfumes. The best commercial perfumers I know said working with only pure essential oils to create a complex perfume is like trying to paint a botanical garden in bloom with only two colors. This especially, artful blending relies on an educated "nose" ľa gifted sensory discernment developed through many hours of experimentation with the blending of often very expensive essential oils. Clinical or medical blending depends more on our knowledge of how the oils effect common ailments. Both are an art and call upon on our ability to intuit or sense the condition of the individual for who the blend is being created.

7. Intuitive Healing

There is an approach to healthy eating called "Instinctive Nutrition." It extends the concept which is the basis of holistic therapy that once your body-mind rids itself of toxins instinctively you will select foods that are good for it. Their fundamental proposition is that when even the most scientific, multi-billion medical research has not found the cure for the diseases that plague us that perhaps the answers are not to be found in science at all, but rather in human instinct. Applying this theory from holistic medicine that intuitively our bodies are attempting to move toward what is more healthful we have found that perfumes many women choose to associate with may be an intuitive gesture in the direction of choosing scents that would be good for them. By intuition then we don't just mean psychic ability but an inherent wisdom that comes through knowing the specific character of each essential oil, and how it might affect the states of your body and mind, and what you fragrances are most comforting to you.

Since aromatherapy is becoming so popular from multidisciplinary practioners are integrating the art into their therapy. We are collecting information about how aromatherapy is being used in yoga, martial arts, chakra balancing, Hawaiian Lomi massage, Native American Indian ceremonies, Taoists, and by multidisciplinary health practitioners from Greece, Indonesia, Bali, Thailand, Mexico, Tibet and Russia. As we find more agreement among experts we will add information from these other approaches into our database.

We suggest you consider individual oils you especially like to be associated with. You may know these already. If not, we research what fragrance notes are in your favorites perfumes as a way to see what scents you like to associate with.

Overall, the approach we offer on this site leans more toward self-exploration, and experimenting with scents as perfumes, bath and body products, and even to include them in gourmet recipes. In this respect, we lean more toward the practice of aromachology than aromatherapy although we hope the suggestions we offer will enhance how you care for yourself, family, and pets. We hope fun sales as well as sex and smell.

The recommendations we offer are never meant to replace the services of licensed, trustable, health care professionals. Any application you make of the information offered on this site is at your own discretion and you sole responsibility. Seek out the gifted healers in your community and make great use of them.

We have created this interactive and hopefully enjoyable site to help you wean yourself from synthetic scents and through your heightened senses maintain your emotional and mental balance by the daily choices you make.

We will repeat it many times on this site because we have found it to be true in our own lives: the ultimate reward of integrating essential oils into your daily life is the gradual improvement in your lifestyle. You can restore and maintain your physical, emotional and mental balance by the daily choices you make. We suggest enjoyable, practical ways to make those changes. Ways that can even save you money.

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