Aromatherapy can be described as the practice of using plant and essential oils for psychological and physical well-being. Aromatherapy was used by the most ancient civilizations and is thousands of years old. It is widely thought that Aromatherapy's roots are in Egypt.
A pleasing, natural aroma can have a positive psychological effect on the body. Fragrances and essential oils may be blended together to provide an especially pleasing scent and are believed to have certain health benefits. A blend of essential oils and scents in proper proportions is considered to be greater in total benefit than each oil independently.
Bayberry - Long used as a tonic to build the blood and raise vitality and resistance to disease. Taken with cayenne, it is useful in warding off colds at the first signs. It is said to be beneficial in rejuvenating the adrenal glands, cleansing the blood stream and eliminating wastes.
Bluebonnet - .A hardy winter annual native to Texas. Adopted as the "State Flower of Texas", this is the most commonly seen variety along roadsides and in uncultivated pastures throughout the state.
Cedar - The tallest of this species of Conifer rarely grows above 30 feet high. These trees have regular, graceful conical forms that make them valuable as high hedge trees, and they also take easily any other shape to which they may be clipped. The decoction has been used in intermittent fevers, rheumatism, dropsy, coughs and scurvy. The leaves, made into an ointment with fat, are a helpful local application in rheumatism. An injection of the tincture into venereal warts is said to cause them to disappear.
Censer - A vessel suspended by chains, and used for burning incense at solemn Mass, Vespers, Benediction, processions, and other important offices of the Church. It is now commonly called a thurible. In its prevailing shape the censer consists of a cup, or bowl, which rests on a firm base and is provided with a hollow movable pan for holding ignited charcoal, a lid or covering, and four chains about three feet in length, three of which unite the bowl to a circular disc, while the fourth is used for raising the lid, to which one end is attached, the other passing through a hole in the disc and terminating in a small ring. The censer played an important part in the ancient religious worship both of the Jews and Pagans. It is no wonder, then, that its employment in Christian ceremonies goes back to the very earliest times. Its primitive form, however, was quite different from what it is now, being something like a vase with a perforated cover to emit the perfumed odors. These vessels in the Middle Ages were often made of gold and silver and enriched with numerous details of most elaborate ornamentation. In the archives or inventories of many Continental and English cathedrals (such as St. John Lateran, Trier, Louvain, Lincoln, and York Minster) minute descriptions are given of some ancient specimens in the possession of these churches.
Clove is the small reddish brown bud of the tropical evergreen tree. They were used, as early as 200 BC, to perfume the breath during audiences with the emperor. During the middle ages, cloves were used to preserve and garnish food. It is also used as a local anesthetic for toothaches and a flavoring.
Dragon's Blood has several origins. The best known is that from Sumatra. Daemomorops Draco formerly known as Calamus Draco, was transferred with many others of the species to Daemomorops. The long, slender stems of the genus are flexible, and the older trees develop climbing propensities. The leaves have prickly stalks which often grow into long tails and the bark is provided with many hundreds of flattened spines. The berries are about the size of a cherry, and pointed. When ripe they are covered with a reddish, resinous substance which is separated in several ways, the most satisfactory being by steaming, or by shaking or rubbing in coarse, canvas bags.
Frankincense is obtained from the leafy forest tree Boswellia Thurifera. The leaves are deciduous, alternating towards the tops of the branches. To obtain the Frankincense, a deep, longitudinal incision is made in the trunk of the tree and below it a narrow strip of bark 5 inches in length is peeled off. When the milk-like juice which exudes has hardened by exposure to the air, the incision is deepened. In about three months the resin has attained the required degree of consistency, hardening into yellowish 'tears.' The large, clear globules are scraped off into baskets and the inferior quality that has run down the tree is collected separately. The season for gathering lasts from May till the middle of September, when the first shower of rain puts a close to the gathering for that year. It's principal use now is in the manufacture of incense and pastilles. It is also used in plasters and might be substituted for Balsam of Peru or Balsam or Tolu. The inhalation of steam laden with the volatile portion of the drug is said to relieve bronchitis and laryngitis.
Ginger flowers have an aromatic smell and the bruised stem a characteristic fragrance, but the root is considered the most useful part of the plant, and must not be used under a year's growth. The peeling has to be done very thinly or the richest part of the resin and volatile oil is lost. It is sometimes soaked in lime-juice instead of plain water, and the color is improved by a final coating of chalk. It is now cultivated in great quantities in Jamaica and comes into this country dried and preserved. The root from the West Indies is considered the best. Also imported from Africa, there are several varieties known in commerce.
Jasmine of the perfumery trade is one of the flowers most valued by perfumers. Its delicate, sweet odor is so peculiar that it is without comparison one of the most distinct of all natural odors, and until quite recent years, it was believed that it was the only scent that could not be made artificially. A synthetic Otto of Jasmine now exists, however, its composition following more or less closely the constitution of the natural oil, containing benzyl acetate, a benzyl ester found in the natural oil of Jasmine, but the true perfume of Jasmine is not, however, exactly reproducible by any combination of chemical compounds or other natural products thus far known, and a proportion of the natural otto must be added to the mixture of synthetic substances to make the product satisfactory.
Lavender - (English) is a narrow-leaved plant, and grows 1 to 3 feet high with a short, irregular branch stem, covered with a yellowish-gray bark, which comes off in flakes. The essential oil proves admirably restorative and tonic against faintness, palpitations of a nervous sort, weak giddiness, spasms and colic. It is agreeable to the taste and smell, provokes appetite, raises the spirits and dispels flatulence. In some cases of mental depression a few drops rubbed on the temple will cure nervous headache.
Myrrh has been used from remote ages as an ingredient in incense, perfumes, etc., in the holy oil of the Jews and the Kyphi of the Egyptians for embalming and fumigations. Little appears to be known about the collection of myrrh. It seems probable that the best drug comes from Somaliland, is bought at the fairs of Berbera by the Banians of India, shipped to Bombay, and there sorted, the best coming to Europe and the worst being sent to China. The true myrrh is known in the markets as karam, formerly called Turkey myrrh, and the opaque bdellium as meena harma. The gum makes a good mucilage and the insoluble residue from the tincture can be used in this way.
Narcissus - Socrates called this plant the 'Chaplet of the infernal Gods,' because of its narcotic effects. An extract of the bulbs, when applied to open wounds, has produced staggering, numbness of the whole nervous system and paralysis of the heart. The Arabians commended the oil to be applied for curing baldness and as an aphrodisiac.
Patchouli - This fragrant herb, grows from 2 to 3 feet in height, giving out the peculiar, characteristic scent of patchouli when rubbed. The crop is cut two or three times a year, the leaves being dried and packed in bales and exported for distillation of the oil. Patchouli is widely-used both in Asia and India.
Rosemary - The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.
Sandalwood - A small tree 20 to 30 feet high, with many opposite slender drooping branches. The bark is a smooth gray-brown. It is used internally in chronic bronchitis, a few drops on sugar giving relief; also in gonorrhea and gleets; in chronic cystitis, with benzoic and boric acids. Sandalwood is used as a perfume for different purposes. The wood is used for making articles and carvings.