chapter  11
7 Pages

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of volatile plant oils to address physical and psychological disorders. Volatile plant oils, also known as essential oils, are extracted from aromatic plants by steam distillation or mechanical pressing, processes which do not, by definition, involve the use of chemical solvents. The volatile oils consist of a range of chemical groups such as esters, terpenes, phenols, and aldehydes, which produce their characteristic odors and therapeutic properties. One of the challenges in their use is the high variability of composition, even of the same plants from different geographical locations. Although use of essential oils is recorded throughout history, by report the actual term was not coined until a French chemist, Rene Gattefosse, proposed the use of essential oils as “aromatherapy” in a book published in 1937 (PDQ 2002).