Ayurveda considers aroma blends to be more effective than single aromas because of the added benefits of synergy and balance.
Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils, is one of the most popular techniques of natural medicine practiced today.
History of Aromatherapy
The first form of aromatherapy utilized different kinds of burning woods. The use of smoke in the form of incense has survived in almost all cultures.
The Egyptians used aromatics 5,000 years ago for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. The Greeks used olive oil to absorb the odor from flower petals and herbs. Arab physicians perfected the method of distilling essential oils and brought them to Europe. By the 16th century, the women of the household made all kinds of remedies for home use.
The new sciences of chemistry and pharmacology, however, reduced these practices to superstition, thus discouraging the use of aromatherapy until the beginning of the 20th century, when a succession of French chemists started to research the healing properties of essential oils. The first among them, Rene Maurice Gattefosse, turned his attention to the use of oils in dermatology after he discovered how lavender oil healed his burned hand. He coined the word "aromatherapy" in 1928 and published a book by the same title in 1937.
In the eastern cultures of India and China, however, the tradition remained unbroken. Vaidyas, ayurvedic physicians, treated people with dried and fresh herbs, floral waters and aromatherapy oil massage.
Aromatherapy in Ayurveda
Ayurveda considers the use of aroma as an important tool for prevention and healing. Practitioners use it for protecting the vital force, prana, regulating digestion and metabolism, agni, and increasing resistance to disease, ojas. Traditional ayurvedic practices include fumigation by burning neem leaves, use of holy basil or rose petals in water while bathing, and burning incense sticks during meditation.