Aromatherapy as a Holistic Approach

by Julia Strand

Essential Oil therapy, also known as aromatherapy, is a form of therapy that uses natural essences that are taken from plants in an aromatic form. Aromatherapy is believed to be used for multiple purposes such as physiological and psychological factors. Aromatherapy became popular in 1937 when Rene-Maurice Gatteforsse, who was a French perfumer and chemist, set the foundation for the term “Arimatherapie”. Arimatherapie is a term that references the therapeutic application of the essential oils that are used for holistic purposes in the form of healing. India, France, England and the United States are the most common countries to find aromatherapy practiced in, as well as many other countries. Information for aromatherapy is readily available in multiple forms considering its history and commonality. Aromatherapy is considered important because of both the physiological and psychological healing benefits that people claim come from the process. Aromatherapy is considered extraordinary because of the explanations of why the essential oils are considered to be healing.

In addition to essential oils, aromatherapy also consists of carrier oils, absolutes, herbal distillates, vaporizer oils, and phytocides. Because of the additional factors that partake in aromatherapy, it leads more people to believe in greater effects. The people who believe in aromatherapy claim to have improved moods, change in cognitive states, and even supplement for medicine. Although aromatherapy is not scientifically supported, the difference that individuals feel in their overall health is what carries the support for aromatherapy. Aromatherapy not being scientifically supported carries a huge weight, as that affects it not being accessible in a lot of medical aspects. Although there are ways around it, and not every medical field agrees, aromatherapy can only be looked at to a certain point because of its lack of scientific evidence.

A major cognitive contribution to the belief of aromatherapy would be the placebo effect. People who use aromatherapy want to believe that it actually works, therefore, they are going to feel as though positive outcomes are because of the aromatherapy. People who come to believe in aromatherapy can be misinformed as well as misinterpreting evidence. Depending on the individual need, an aromatherapist can recommend a single oil or a blend of oils to such individual. The person relaying the information could misinform the individual. The individual could also be getting their evidence from all sorts of websites and resources and self-diagnosing themselves. In that sense, misinterpreting what they are reading could easily mislead them into what they are believing.

There are many social and contextual factors that contribute to the belief of aromatherapy. Social factors like religion and income could contribute to this belief. In terms of religion, being opened to aromatherapy benefiting you spiritually makes a difference. Aromatherapy is also a lot cheaper than other medications, therefore, lower income individuals could contribute to the idea of aromatherapy as an alternative medicine. The setting also greatly contributes to this belief. Being in a doctor’s office, partaking in massage therapy, to being in a store that sells aromas. Taking into considerations that the belief of aromatherapy is so wide spread, the community of believers come from all over the world. Aromatherapy has made itself attractive to a vast community of people, which also helps its social influences. With it being worldwide and commonly used, it is easy to keep it going and up to date.

Aromatherapy is a psychologically appealing idea to others in the way it offers comfort to the discomfort they are experiencing. It gives them something to hope for, something to put the unknown in. The more people who use aromatherapy, and the more people who see others partake in it, the more it is going to influence the people around them. Aromatherapy is also something that is a fad right now, which also makes people feel as though they are fitting in and are on top of the cultural ways.

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One thought on “Aromatherapy as a Holistic Approach

  1. I thought this post was very informative and well done. I am super interested in aromatherapy because it seems to be popular in our society. I definitely agree with you that the placebo effect is likely at play. Have you considered the regression effect as well? I think the regression to the mean level of health might play a role in certain alternative practices like this one.

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