You may think, as I did before deciding to pursue studies to become a certified aromatherapist, that the term aromatherapy applies to using any kind of pleasant aroma to create a calming atmosphere. This is a common belief due to the commercial use of the word to describe both naturally and synthetically fragranced products. The true meaning of the word aromatherapy refers to aromatic products made with essential oils extracted from plants.
Essential oils are obtained from the roots, flowers, leaves, seeds and bark of plants, most commonly by steam distillation and expression. They carry a variety of therapeutic properties that can provide both physical and emotional benefits. Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are man-made combinations of chemical substances and have absolutely no therapeutic value. In fact, many people have allergies to the chemical compoments used to create products with fragrance oils.