The foundation of Aromatherapy is Base Oils (or Carrier Oils) as these are used as a starting point, to which Aromatherapy oil is then added (e.g. Teat Tree or Peppermint for example.
The key to effective treatment is making sure the right carrier oils are used to take the relevant aromatherapy oils that contain the pure essence of a plant (the essential oils).
Worldwide there are some 400 aromatherapy oils available, with around 90 in common use. Therapists choose the one that is most suitable for the particular treatment they are providing, applying aromatherapy oils through the skin (via massage) or in the air (breathing).
Aromatherapy oils are aromatic, volatile substances extracted by distillation or expression, and have been used in fragrances, flavours and medicines for thousands of years. Some of the more popular ones are chamomile, lavender, rosemary, and tea tree.
Although complementary and alternative medicine practices such as this are considered to be outside the mainstream of western medicine, there is a growing body of scientific evidence to support their effectiveness.
If you are looking to purchase oils to use at home, it is worth noting that there is a huge difference in the effectiveness of certain products. Many manufacturers sell "essential oils" that are not the same as those your therapists will use, and thus will not be effective.
Some of the things to look out for:
- Fragrance oils and perfume oils: These contain synthetic chemicals and thus will not provide the therapeutic benefits of true essential oils
- "Made With Essential Oils" or "Made With Natural Ingredients": There is no regulation on claims like these, thus they may only contain a tiny amount of the essential oil, padded out with large amounts of synthetic ingredients
It is thus worth sourcing any products from a reputable supplier of natural, therapeutic products.