The idea that aromas can affect mood and health may seem new, and a little "out there", to you, but aromatherapy is actually an effective, and, widely recognized way of using our sense of smell to improve the body, mind and soul.
In the practice of aromatherapy, three major points are considered. These three points are; the aromas you plan to use, what they are expected to do, and how each specific substance smells.
Aromatherapy has been around a long time, but substances known as "absolutes" are only recently becoming a better known and understood part of the practice. The highly-concentrated scents provided by the use of absolutes can waken powerful feelings and emotions which can penetrate into, and bring improvement to, even in the busiest of lives.
So what exactly are absolutes?
Absolutes are similar to the
essential oils more commonly used in aromatherapy in that both are extracted from plants. In fact, an
absolute is just a more concentrated form of an essential oil.
Absolutes differ from essential oils, however, in the method that is used during the
extraction process. Essential oils are primarily extracted using a steam distillation process and the end product is a relatively mild though concentrated substance.
However, extracting absolutes involves the use of chemicals and solvents, and this
more intense extraction method results in a more concentrated version of the plant's essence - one that is far more fragrant.
The drawback to this, at least as it
relates to aromatherapy, is that the process does not produce a pure
essence. Substances extracted in this manner will often contain traces of the
chemicals and solvents that were used during the extraction process.
For this reason, absolutes have been used primarily in the
fragrance or perfume industries. While they can sometimes be used successfully in
aromatherapy, extreme care must be taken. It's also important
to take into account that absolutes are more likely to trigger an allergic reaction in some people than essential oils which are relatively problem free in this area.
Another problem is that, while there are people who wish to remain
true to the principles of aromatherapy, and who prefer essential oils over
absolutes, there are some plants whose essences cannot be extracted
using other, less intense, distillation methods. To extract the essence of jasmine and honeysuckle, for example,
chemical extraction processes are the only real options available.
Some popular absolutes
- Extracted using solvents, Jasmine absolute offers a unique and
exquisite scent. It has been used for years in perfumes and therapy sessions, partly because its
sweet, heady fragrance supposedly is, among other things, an effective aphrodisiac.
Women with irregular menstrual cycles often make use of jasmine absolute because to help regulate these cycles. It can relieve headaches and is an
effective antiseptic and antidepressant, and also has sedative qualities.
- Another substance best extracted using alcohol, The absolute of Lavender has a sweet,
floral and woody fragrance strongly reminiscent of a lavender shrub. It is a popular fragance and is oftne selected for use in soaps, creams and lipsticks.
- Which is extracted using solvents or alcohol, has a
rich scent that is both earthy and woody. If you can imagine the smell of damp oak
along the seashore, this is what oakmoss absolute smells like. It is considered to be very comforting.
Rose absolute -
Extracted directly from rose blossoms with the use of chemical solvents, rose absolute is
a predominantly feminine scent that is very intense. Rose is perfect for relaxing after
a hard day or for those times when you're feeling particularly sexy. Used in a wide variety of
creams, soaps and lotions, rose absolute also has anti-viral and
anti-bacterial qualities and is popular with herbalists for those properties. It is one of the more expensive
absolutes because it takes many, many rose blossoms to produce even a small quantity.
- Extracted from either pink or white lotus flowers with the use of
solvents, lotus absolute has many healing qualities. It can also be used in aromatherapy to help build
confidence and self-esteem.
How to make over 130 natural home remedies & aromatherapy recipes using only 5 essential oils.
Benefits and Basics of Aromatherapy