"Aromatherapy is… the skilled and controlled use of essential oils for physical and emotional health and well being." Valerie Cooksley
"Aromatherapy is a caring, hands-on therapy which seeks to induce relaxation, to increase energy, to reduce the effects of stress and to restore lost balance to mind, body and soul." Robert Tisserand
Aromatherapy is the art and science of using plant oils in treatment. These plant oils have been and continue to be used for purpose of altering a person's mind, mood, cognitive function or health. Most people think of aromatherapy as just a nice smell for candles, massage oils or as an air freshener. It is good for those things but for so much more.
Aromatherapy is non-invasive in the fact that it can be used through inhalation. A big part of aromatherapy is smell which utilizes your olfaction membrane. Immediately upon smelling a scent, that message is transported to your limbic system. The limbic system is a part of the brain and it is the seat of our emotions. For example if you smell rotten food in the garbage your face may automatically frown up showing your dislike for the scent. But on the other hand if you smell beautiful roses or flowers you may automatically smile, showing your like for the scent. Inhalation of essential oils does so much more than to alter moods. It absorbs very quickly into the blood stream and directly affect the central nervous system. As stated in Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide To The Healing Art, inhalation also produces physical reactions, such as lowered blood pressure.
Another route of absorption for essential oil used in aromatherapy is the skin. The skin is our largest organ and what ever we put on it, get absorbed into our bloodstream. A blend of essential oils can be applied to stop infection or for it's anti-inflammatory properties. Sometimes people only focus on one method of use but they can be used simultaneously. While addressing a physical concern you can address another emotional concern at the same time.
There is a science that backs aromatherapy because each essential oil is comprised of many different components; to many to name at this time. It can help us understand some of the more complex mechanisms in which oils can be used to treat disease. But the other mystery of aromatherapy is considered just that, a mystery because science is not equipped to understand the miracles that happens in life with the interaction of these oils.