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Simone I. Cohen Scott

Simone Cohen Scott: Aromatherapy: What It Is and What It Isn’t.

by Simone I. Cohen Scott, September 30, 2013

This article first appeared in Il Nuovo Sole, Manitoba’s Italian Community Newspaper.


The ‘therapy’ factor in what is currently being termed ‘Aromatherapy’ comes from the use of aromatic liquid substances found in plants, and called ‘essential oils’.  These are found in various parts of plants, protecting them from the onset of disease or attack by insects.  In the latter it is the scent that is effective; in the former the activity of the molecules does the job.

In olden times, through observation, trial and error, and just plain instinctive talent and skill, cures were developed for certain maladies, almost but not quite becoming a branch of herbal medicine.  Tried and true methods were passed down through the generations.  With the onset of modern pharmaceuticals these skills were almost lost, as people learned to depend on science.  In many cases natural curative substances were artificially copied and put into tablet form.  Ah, but the pendulum swings, and now the mainstream population is more open to what used to be called ‘old wives tales’.

The prettily coloured and scented candle certainly lends charm and romance to a room or activity like dining or meditating. It’s nice that it smells nice, and true, it emanates a nice feeling, but as nice as it may be, it is not, I repeat, NOT truly Aromatherapy. What it is, is: Chemistry copying a scent from bonafide essential oils.  Don’t stop doing it; or using the so-called aromatherapy soaps and lotions; it’s fun and it’s niceAs long as you don’t expect it to heal anything.

On the other hand, the natural oils with their wonderful scents are not only charming; they are medicines par excellence for all kinds of ailments.  I first became interested in their use in remedial facial treatments for skin care problems such as acne, rosaceoa, sun damage, age spots, premature wrinkling, scars, and so forth.  Before long I found a myriad of other uses, such as headache relief, bruise and burn remedies, insect repellent, cuts and scrapes, tummy ache, immune boost, pms, allergies, even arthritis and cold and flu symptoms.  Plus, I carry Lavender Essential Oil along with me on trips and sprinkle it on the carpets and bedspreads in hotels, for its disinfectant ability.     .

I’ve noticed that pharmacies in Europe are really apothecaries, not variety stores, and are well stocked with quality essential oils, while in North America it is the chemical copies that are readily available.  Hopefully, availability will improve as faith in these ‘magic potions’ grows.  The pure products may seem relatively expensive, because the painstaking methods of extracting these treasures from their plants is extremely time intensive.  (As with most things, quick methods don’t produce the best quality.)  However, since just a few drops are needed at a time, when compared with the price of other remedies, they are really very practical.. The difficulty instead is in finding a quality shop where the person in charge has some ‘know how’.

There is much more to be said, than space here permits, about this absolutely amazing gift from the Designer of our planet.  If you have specific questions, please email me at [email protected], or check out my website:

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