Scents and essence

Scents and essence


Scents and essence

Aromatherapy uses the distilled, concentrated essence of plants like jasmine to make essential oils.

Aromatherapy is often confused with herbalism. They are two specialised branches of the same science that draw on the basic fundamentals of medicine, however different they be in practice. Although the properties of the herbs may be the same, their effects in the two forms are different. In aromatherapy, treatment is through using the distilled concentrated essence of plants (essential oils). A single drop of plant essence may well be considered equivalent to an ounce of the living plant. The essence is, therefore, very powerful.

Herbal treatment, on the other hand, is based on the principle of using the whole herb or its extract. The plants are cooked in water and consumed in large quantities, and the therapeutic value is localised in the area of application.

Aromatherapy has a pronounced effect on the mind and the emotions of an individual, which herbalism does not.

Our sense of smell transcends the conscious level to reach the subconscious level which is linked to our brain. In fact, the power of aroma is used to evoke a feeling of wellbeing. It can instill in people a positive attitude to life.

How does the sense of smell work?

The fragrance inhaled stimulates the fine hair-like projections called cilia. These are tiny nerve endings and are part of our olfactory senses. A signal that is generated here is transmitted to the olfactory bulb through nerves that are directly connected to the brain. The olfactory nerve is an extension of the brain itself and can be reached directly through the nose. In fact, this is the only open gate to the brain. A response to the signal is created and sent back to the nose.

Some of the more popular fragrances   used in aromatherapy are as follows:


Cultivated in India, Iran, France, Corsica, Egypt, Italy, Lebanon, China and Morocco, it is a commonly-used fragrance in Hindu and Muslim traditions during weddings.

*Tones the skin

*Prevents scarring

*Increases skin elasticity

*Strong aphrodisiac

*Eases anxiety, depression and lethargy


Produced in India, Indonesia and China, it is used in powder form in Hindu religious ceremonies.

*Has strong antiseptic effect

*Softens the skin and helps in the treatment of broken veins

*Has a very relaxing effect

*Cures pimples and eczema and eases abscesses and sores

*Controls fluid retention

Ylang Ylang

Produced in Indonesia, Comodo Islands and north-west Madagascar, it is known as the ‘flower of flowers’. In Indonesia, these flowers are used to decorate the nuptial bed.

*Bath Oil: Add 5-10 drops of any of these  essential oils to your bath. Mix the water gently with your hand so that the oil forms a film on top. A thin film of oil will envelop your body when you slip into your tub and will penetrate your skin and diffuse into the tissues.

*Massage Oil: Add 10 drops of essential oil to 20 ml of almond oil. When massaged into the body, the oil is completely absorbed by the skin within half-an-hour to two hours and penetrates the tissues deeply.

*Vaporisation: Essential oils can be used as air fresheners. Put a few drops of essential oil on a source of heat. This could be a light bulb, a radiator or a small bowl of hot water. The oil evaporates and perfumes the air.

*Eau De Toilette:  Take three drops of essential oil and add it to 100 ml of distilled water. Keep the mixture in a dark, air-tight bottle. It will stay fresh for a few weeks. Shake the bottle well before use and spray to apply.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox