Plant World

Introduction and Historical Background

What plants produce essential oils that are commonly used in aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a holistic approach to healing using essential oils extracted from plants. Holistic medicine looks at the health of the whole individual, and treatments emphasize the connection of mind, body, and spirit. The term “aromatherapy” was first used by Rene Gattefosse (1881–1950), a French perfume chemist. He discovered the healing powers of lavender oil following a laboratory accident during which he burned his hand. Gattefosse began to investigate the properties of lavender oil and other essential oils and published a book on plant extracts. During aromatherapy treatments, essential oils are absorbed through breath or the pores of the skin; this process triggers certain physiological responses. Examples of essential oils and their uses are:

Essential Oil Common Uses
Cypress Antiseptic, asthma, coughing, relaxation
Eucalyptus Anti-inflammatory, arthritis, relaxation
Frankincense Coughing, bronchitis
Geranium Dermatitis, relaxation, depression
Ginger Bronchitis, arthritis, stimulant
Juniper Antiseptic, aches, pains, relaxation
Lavender Antiseptic, respiratory infections, relaxation
Marjoram Respiratory infections, relaxation
Pine Asthma, arthritis, depression
Roman chamomile Toothaches, arthritis, tension
Bulgarian rose Antiseptic, insomnia, relaxation
Rosemary Bronchitis, depression, mental alertness
Sandalwood Acne, bronchitis, depression
Tea tree Respiratory infections, acne, depression


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