Aromatherapy is a therapeutic approach using aromatic, essential oils from herbs and flowers. They are used to stimulate the emotions toward happiness and to calm them during periods of stress. Although practised for thousands of years, the term aromatherapy was not coined until 1937 when a French chemist, René Maruice Gattefosse published his experiments.
Aromatherapy is based primarily on the sense of smell, which is connected to the part of the brain that controls the autonomic or involuntary nervous system. This means that the body has no control over how it reacts to an odor. Neurotransmitters that can calm and sedate or stimulate and excite are released.
The essential oils used are derived through steam distillation performing an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent service. As these oils are potently concentrated, care must be taken when using them. In addition, they should never be used undiluted.
Commercial products bought at bath shops or cosmetic counters use synthetic fragrance oils which do not always elicit the desired response as essential fragrant oils do. The cost also varies. Natural essential oils are more expensive than their synthetic counterparts because it takes more plants to make them. For example, it takes 16 pounds of fresh peppermint leaves to make one ounce of pure essential oil.
It is advised that pregnant women should not use essential oils since these are known to have varying effects on the fetus.
Currently, there is no credentialling procedure for an aromatherapist, but it is often incorporated into the practises of those already in the healthcare field.
Bach flower aromatherapy began with Dr. Edward Bach, of Mount Vernon, Oxfordshire, England, in the 1930s, although his interest began much earlier. Bach flower essences is a system of 38 basic flowers that help correct emotional imbalances, thus replacing negative emotions with positive ones. Bach flower essences are natural and perfectly safe to use along with herbs, homeopathic medicines, and conventional medications. They can be used on the elderly, children, men, women, pets and plants.
The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy. (Paperback) by Mechthild Scheffer
New Bach Flower Body Maps: Treatment by Topical Application (Paperback) by Dietmar Krämer
Music therapy has been used for centuries to change the mood. Even plants respond to certain kinds of music. Flowers and vegetables have been known to fourish when classical music is played, showed no response to country and western music, and withered and died when exposed to rock and roll. Animals also respond. Cows have indicated a preference for Mozart by producing more milk.
It seems this would be a healthier alternative to growth hormones. Currently, music is being used to treat such conditions as high blood pressure, strokes, Alzheimer’s, learning disabilities, depression, cancer, and AIDS. Classical music has even been credited with boosting IQ points.
Since live music produces sound waves, the deaf have been able to feel the vibrations and respond accordingly. Fine glassware has also responded to certain pitches produced by singers. Synchronizing rhythm and harmony has the ability to produce changes in the body, including altering the blood pressure, respirations, muscle tension, and pulse rate.
Credentialing is available through the American Music Therapy Association. Graduates can be found in hospitals, rehab centers, schools, and nursing homes.
Vision therapy involves techniques, conducted by optometrists, designed to coax the brain into sending the proper messages to the eye muscles in order to alleviate visual disturbances or to strengthen weakened muscles. In 1920, William H. Bates, MD, wrote a controversial book called “The Cure of Imperfect Sight by Treatment Without Glasses” and is considered to be the founding father of vision therapy techniques – although a few of his ideas have since been eliminated while others have been modified.
The American Optometric Association and College of Optometrists in Vision Development have approved treatments for the following: oculomotor dysfunction (control problems), accommodative disorders (focusing problems), vergence dysfunction (inefficiency of using both eyes together), amblyopia (lazy eye), strabismus (misaligned eyes), visual sensory and motor integration, near and far acuity, depth perception, peripheral vision, tracking, and others. Therapy can also used after a brain injury or stroke, as well as for those with learning disabilities.
According to colour therapists, colour affects not only moods and feelings, but also physical health and well-being. It is known that the colour scheme in a room can affect moods, so it should not be surprising that colour may impact the immune system.
The theory behind this belief suggests that the body absorbs colour in the form of electromagnetic components of light, then produces its own aura of electromagnetism. This aura gives off a pattern of vibrations that can be discerned by a skilled colour therapist. A healthy body gives out a balanced pattern of vibrations while an unhealthy one produces unbalanced patterns. The goal of the colour therapist is to administer the colour(s) that are lacking in an ill person in order to restore a balanced pattern to the aura.
The human aura is said to be oval in shape and made up of seven layers. The first layer is the physical body, with each layer interpenetrating the others and filled with ever-changing colours. These changes depend on the state of health and mood. For example, anger produces a murky red colour, and envy takes on a dark shade of green. Being that the long-standing English idiom states that one can be “green with envy” lends credence to colour theories.
Disease manifests itself as a gray mass of accumulated energy. If this is not resolved, it will continue to manifest itself and become a physical symptom in the body. When it reaches this stage, the colour therapist will have to disperse this mass by reintroducing the colour frequency into both the physical body and the aura.
Colour therapists regard their approach as complementary to orthodox treatments. Colour treatments can be administered either through a colour therapy instrument, which uses stained glass for filters, or through contact healing. In contact healing, the therapist allows his/her body to be the instrument through which the colour is channeled to the patient.
The life force, or energy, is known by various names, depending on the country from which the word comes. The traditional therapies practised in India and Sri Lanka are called by the Indian term, prana. This is the equivalent to the Chinese “qi” and the Japanese “ki.” The most important function in the human body that maintains balance, harmony, and health is the transferrence of the energy force. It is absorbed into the body in many ways, including by breathing and eating. On a sunny day, there is an abundance of energy in the atmosphere, which explains why people feel good and so full of energy on those days. On a dull, gray day, the energy field is reduced, producing the same results in humans.
According to Indian belief, the vortex, or wheel, of energy is made up of seven major pathways. Five are situated in line with the spine, the sixth with the brow, and the seventh lies just above the crown of the head. Each contains a full spectrum of colour, but one is dominant for that pathway. Each pathway is linked to one of the endocrine glands and is the reason for their importance in treatment. There are minor pathways that link the nervous system and are the fine energy channels that connect the main energy pathways.
The first part of a colour treatment involves making a colour-diagnosis of the spine. The therapist may also work with crystals of different colours or coloured water. The spine is divided into four sections, each containing eight vertebrae, and each relating to certain health aspects. The first section relates to mental health, the second to emotional health, the third to metabolism, and the fourth to physical health. When the colours are determined for the individual, treatment at home may be continued by wearing clothes of that colour. Natural fibers are used since synthetic fabrics restrict aura. Favourite colours may also be incorporated into home decor.