Back to the front pageWestern Mail© Tuesday, 18 April 2000
In Wales' National Newspaper quarterly supplement "HEALTH Wales"
AROMATHERAPY: Website caters for worldwide interest in the art of using essential plant oils
Age-old therapy is the latest 'must-have'on InternetALISON WATKINS
IMAGINE spending a couple of hours just pampering your tired and aching body.
Not just diving in and out of the shower in seconds, but actually lying back and drifting off to sleep as fragrant oils are massaged into knotted shoulders.
To most of us, sacrificing time for personal care smacks of sinful indulgence, the type of ethos promoted by glossy magazines.
But it needn't be.
Aromatherapy is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to unwind and pamper a tired body and mind. The art of using essential oils extracted from aromatic plants to enhance health is age-old, but has been adopted as one of the most modem, must-have therapies.
Pick up any magazine and there will be a health expert expounding the virtues of ylang ylang and camomile.
Walk into your local supermarket and there along with the traditional bath foams, will be a plethora of mind-boggling aromatherapy products, promising to relieve stress, soothe dry skin and ease aching limbs. Essential oils are regularly recommended for stress-related diseases and the list of remedies is endless; such as camomile for inflammation, galbanum for rheumatism, mandarin for digestion and tea tree for acne.
Oils can also be used to help more serious ailments, such as heart problems, pre-menstrual problems, arthritis and migraines.
Aromatherapy is big business, so much so that it has found its niche on the Internet.
Just ask Graham Sorenson.
Four years ago he launched a website devoted to the world of aromatherapy.
Today, it is visited by 16,000 people each month.
Not bad for something which started as a hobby.
Mr Sorenson, 48, said, "I have always been interested in complementary medicine and after doing a massage course in Cardiff became interested in essential oils.
"I spent months reading everything I could find on the subject and as I was into website design anyway decided to launch his own site. It's nice because it was only a hobby but now has really taken off.
"For the first few weeks the site only got three to four hits, and I wondered if 1 had chosen the wrong subject.
"Then interest suddenly escalated and in the past few months it has been visited by about 16,000 people each month."
Mr Sorenson who spent much of his life in the RAF, has designed websites for other people, but says the most success has come from his own.
He said that he believed the main reason for the interest was the apathetic attitude of the general public towards the NHS.
He said, "Aromatherapy has certainly become something of a boom field as have many holistic treatments I think that many Patients have become dissatisfied with the service they receive from their GP.
"Usually doctors are far too loaded down with work to spend more than four minutes with a patient and people look elsewhere for help, advice and treatments.
"There are so many side-effects from conventional drugs yet side effects from herbal medicines are very rare.
"This is not to say that they should replace vital medication but they can certainly aid and abet many health problems in a natural way.
"It is difficult to get the medical profession to support alternative therapies, but slowly and surely some GPO are coming round to the idea."
The website is easy to navigate and the information updated regularly.
Mr Sorenson is aware of the need to keep up with trends and in 1998 he went to the World of Aromatherapy conference, organised by the National Association for Holistic Therapy, in the USA.
He said, "Aromatherapy should become an integral part of life.
"It's not just about massage, but about smell.
"Each oil has its own healing property and there is something for every problem whether with the body or the mind and emotions.
"It has always been a favourite with women, but 1 am noticing more and more men taking an interest and it looks set to become even more popular."
HIT MAN: Graham Sorenson with his Internet website on aromatherapy. It is attracting 16,000 visitors a month
There's the rub - and the bath and inhalerAPART from the physical benefits, aromatherapy can have benefits on the mind and emotions.
Pure essential oils are extracted from all kinds of plants.
Some come from the flower, others from leaves, stems, roots, barks or any part of the plant.
Carrier oils are used to carry essential oils, diluting them so they can be applied straight to the skin.
People shouldn't worry about overdosing on oil - it should never be used neat. Most bottles have pipettes so it's impossible to overdose anyway.
It is most commonly used in massage, when oils are diluted with an odourless oil such as grapeseed, sweet almond or peach kernel.
A dilution of 3 per cent essential oil is a recommended starting point.
The other common usage is in a bath. It is a simple, effective way, to relax and receive the therapeutic effects - add six to 10 drops of essential oil to the surface of the water which has already been run then immerse yourself and inhale the vapour
Compresses can also be used.
Add five to 10 drops of essential oils to 1 00ml of warm water then soak a piece of clean cotton in the water and place the cloth on the affected part.
Alternatively, you can obtain the same effect by inhaling or using vaporisation.
Add five to 10 drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming water, place a towel over head and inhale the vapours for a few minutes or use different oils to create different atmospheres.
Graham Sorenson's website is at www.fragrant.demon.co.uk
Underneath this was an A to Z list of oils, Basically the oils to symptoms part of this page