Aromatherapy is the use of plant extracts, known as essences or essential oils, to treat a range of common ailments and for their effect on the emotions and mental well-being. There are about 30 commonly used oils, ranging from basil and bergamot to lavender, rose, sage and teatree. These highly aromatic oils can penetrate the skin when used in the bath or in conjunction with massage , but more probably have a greater therapeutic effect through inhalation, when they are absorbed into the body through the nose and lungs.

Aromatherapy is one of the most ancient of the healing arts, and has been documented from the East for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used aromatic substances in medicine as far back as 4500 BC. It was not until the twentieth century, however, that the healing powers of essential oils were studied and fully appreciated.

Some of the oils are expensive to buy , but only a few drops are needed to provide an effective treatment, so a little goes a long way. Provided the right oils are used in the correct quantities and are not ingested , the techniques are safe. Many of the oils may be used in combination, which will increase the beneficial effect. For relaxation and to enhance your mood, choose the oil whose fragrance you prefer.

The most successful results have been seen in wound healing, treating skin problems such as acne, PMT, poor circulation, respiratory disorders, and headaches and other stress-related disorders. Some of the most useful oils include: eucalyptus , tea tree, pine or lemon , lavender and geranium . There are many good books available, listing the main essential oils and their uses.

One of the most effective ways of using aromatherapy oils is to place a few drops into the water of an oil burner. As the water heats up the aromatic vapours are released.