Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Marketing, Magical or Medicinal?

Did you know that they make "aromatherapy" TRASH BAGS??? Sadly, these commercial advertising schemes have created a whole lot of confusion about what the difference is between "scented" versus "aromatherapy". Hence the reason why I often get THE LOOK when introducing myself as an aromatherapy practitioner.The only way to attempt to describe it is a combination of puzzled amusement and skepticism.

Aromatherapy....the definition is so murky these days! Those beautiful packages decorated with a twig and a leaf in the "wellness" section of the store may not even contain a single drop of pure essential oils yet it is touted as aromatherapy product. Nope, those candles don't have any therapeutic benefit either. In fact, they can be more polluting to our bodies and atmosphere than we realize.

History is a great place to find clues about true aromatherapy. It is certainly NOT a New Age idea, but has been the medicine of many cultures since ancient times. Mysticism and magical attributes have been assigned to herbs and essential oils over the ages. As one browses the internet sites that come up with a search for "aromatherapy", there it can be found alongside the tarot cards, magic rocks, and Goddess t-shirts. In fact, a teacher at my massage school initially turned me off to aromatherapy by encouraging the female students to brew up potions to cast evil spells on the men in their lives!

Later on when I was introduced to therapeutic and medicinal essential oils, I started focusing on WHO made the plants that produced these oils with healing properties. As I delve further into botanical chemistry, I am in awe at the sheer complexity of these created molecules which were so compassionately designed to work in perfect synergy with the human body, enabling the innate healing process we all possess.

Pagans and saints alike used essential oils for healing, much like we understand the common use of toothpaste today. The Egyptians utilized oils and spices for their temple rituals and mummification processes and the Levitical priesthood were given this instruction to appoint makers of ointments for the Tabernacle in 1 Chronicles 9:29-30. "And some of them were appointed over.....the oil and the incense and the spices. And some of the sons of the priests made ointment of the spices." What an honor to be an aromatherapist in the LORD's service!

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