Essential oils are the volatile substances extracted from the aromatic plants by steam distillation, expression, maceration or solvent extraction.
Aromatherapy is a branch of herbal medicine.It offers a materia medica specializing in aromatic plants and their extracts that is highly dynamic and vibrant.
Aromatherapy is a part of the naturopathic tradition in healing.
Naturopathy is the healing system that places the study and following of history, but was first developed as a methodical system by Greek physicians such as Hippocrates. In naturopathy only substances found in nature are used. Herbs and their essences, naturopathy employs the four elements of water (e.g hydrotherapy) earth (e.g clay) fire (e.g sunlight or heat) and air, as well as foods and dietary regimens, and also vegetable oils. colour, heat and cold. Aromatherapy makes use of such naturopathic treatments as mediums through which essences are introduced into the patient and means of which properties are enhanced.
The holistic approach
The vital force. Holistic medicine is first and foremost vitalistic. There is vis vitalis or life force, the source of vital energy within us, and within all beings, the energy that initiates and sustains life. It's nature is to ever seek a state of health and positive well-being. In other cultures this universal principle of energy goes by different names. It is called chi or qi in China, prana in India. Western traditional medicine based on sometimes simply phusis, nature. Phusis gives us our word 'Physician' phrase vis medicatrix naturae sums up these ideas in the credo of the Western traditional, naturopathic and herbal medicine 'the healing power of nature'.
Aromatherapy is more than wonderful scents that come from liquids in dark coloured bottles. It's healing power is based on the deep relationship between humans and plants and the intelligence that nature has placed within each. Knowledge of how a plant is formed, how it functions, why and how it creates volatile oils brings us closer to the essence of the plant, and to its embodiment of the vis medicatrix naturae, the healing power of nature. It is a way of communicating life from which we have a most intimate relationship. Knowing about the source of materia medica, the material of our medicine, is an important grounding for aromatherapy practice.
Aromatherapy A Practical Approach by Vicki Pitman