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The term "aromatherapy" was introduced by the French chemist Gattefosfé that, at the beginning of the XX century, he began to divulge the healing properties of the essential oils obtained from medicinal plants.

The use of essences, however, goes back to the distant past. The Egyptians used them with cosmetic aims and to embalm their deads; the Greek civilization, in the Baths and aromatic massages, and the Arabs were great teachers in the art of perfumery, to mention some examples.

The essential oils, or essences are elaborated in the cytoplasm of certain vegetable cells and is accumulates in certain parts of the plants ?roots, leaves, flowers -, according to the wheater, the development phase and the moment of the day - with the result that their composition varies with the season of the year and even with the gathering hour.

In some plants the essences are distributed evenly by all their cells ?is the case of the petals of the rose - and for this reason their extraction is extremely laborious; in other the essences are stored in secretory bags, as it happens with the orange bark, the lemon or the mandarin, so that when squeezing the bark, the bags breaks and the oil sprout.

The fruits of the umbelliferous - anise, cumin, angelica they have some microscopic tubes with secretory cells in their interior, and in the labiate there are some small "short hair" that segregate the aromatic substance.

The composition of each essential oil is complex: it is constituted by several ingredients, although there is always a mayoritary one: alcohol, cetona, terpenos?As well the balance among them is varied depending of the environmental conditions in which the plant develop, until the point that some species possess different chemicaltypes depending on the prevailing component.

This way for example, of the thyme, or "thymus vulgaris", they are obtained until six types different from oil. The gathering and, mainly, the process of extraction of the essence is other factors that influence powerfully on the final result.



The aromatic plants are the authentic "makers" of essential oils, since, most of the plants contains them, the makers concentrate them in large quantities. The botanical families of the labiates and umbelliferous - to those they belong, among other, the anise, the thyme, the parsley, the mint, the oregano, and the rosemary - they are the main producers. Other groups of interest are that of the lauráceas-laurel - the rosacea - the rose, strawberry, peach-and that of the rutáceas - orange, lemon, bergamota.

The quantity of essential oil obtains from a plant oscillates between the 0, 01 and 10%,of the weigh of the plant´s portion ghatered, although the proportion can be bigger. The rose petals, for example, contain very little: are necessary about a thousand kilograms to achieve four hundred or five hundred grams. From a hundred kilograms of eucalyptus and lavender about three kilograms are extracted, and from a hundred of parsley or thyme, about two hundred grams.

Generally, the essences are liquid, very fluid, soluble partly in water and completely in alcohol and oils and ether. They are usually also clear and transparent, although there are exceptions: that of camomile is of blued color; that of bergamota, green; that of lemon, yellow, and that of jasmine, very dark.

The essential oils are obtained by means of diverse procedures, depending on their localization in the plant. Their great volatility forces to conserve them in hermetic recipients, protected from the light and to a temperature of fifteen or twenty centigrade degrees, and it is, as well, the cause of its easy and quick penetration in the skin.

The technique more used is the distillation by the steam. The plants are boiled in a recipient with water,we obtain a steam of water with particles of oil in suspension; this solution goes by a serpentine or still that it is cooled continually with water, so that they are picked up in different recipients the oil and the water.

This liquid is knows as "hidrolato" and it is also used with medicinal aims. The obtained oil possesses the same properties that the plant.



Many of the properties of the essential oils are still in study or to discover, given the great quantity of chemical substances they contain. Nevertheless, the most studied one is their antibacterian activity, well-known from the antiquity, and due to their content in fenoles and aldehydes, as the timol of the oil of the thyme and of other labiadas, of external and intestinal antiseptic action and antihelmínth.

Their power of cutaneous penetration is very high, with the result that its application in form of baths or massages is an excellent therapeutic option. They are also eliminated through the lungs and the kidneys and their principles also act in these organs.

Some oils stimulate the gastric and salivary secretions, contributing to the process of the digestion. This way, that of camomiles is antiespasmódic and it alleviates the stomach cramps and the pain; that of rosemary favours the flow from the bile to the intestine, and that of mint combats the annoying gases. In these cases, the topical applications by means of massages in the abdominal area are very effective.

The Inhalations and the massages in the thorax with essential oils of eucalyptus, thyme, lavender and oregano have action expectorante, fluidifican the bronchial secretions and they favour their elimination, and they are spasmodic and antiseptic. Those of camomile and geranium are applied by means of massages in the area sacrolumbar to help to dissolve the urinals gallstones.

Some of the essences are stimulating of the nervous system ?cedro, lemon and mint- while other, as the lavender and the melisa, are magnificent sedatives.

Finally the essential oils act as cleansers of the air when they vaporize and they disperse in the atmosphere. In the Middle Ages, according to custom, bonfires were done in the public squares and thrown to the fire aromatic plants, to drive away the epidemics and the pest.



At the beginning of the XVI century the rooms were perfumed with rosemary, lavender, angelic or mint; this way they were impregnated with a soft aroma, but also disinfected. Many grasses are excellent insecticides and cleansers of the atmosphere. Without any doubt the rose is the best perfumer due to their delicate and balsamic aroma.

Any place of the home is appropriate to place an small basket containing an aromatic mixture, as which we propose next: rose petals, laurel leaves, leaves and eucalyptus flowers, walnut leaves, myrtle, thyme and sage, blended with ginger, cinnamon and vanilla cut rather in pieces big. When the perfume begins to weaken we will add some drops of alcohol or essence of roses.

In the pantry, to drive away to the gorgojos, we can put laurel leaves next to the packages of flour, rice or vegetables. The naftalina can be substituted by silk or muslin sack packed with well powdered lavender or lemond balm. They are equally effective and of much more delicate aroma.



We have to take advantage of the virtues of the oils before they begin to volatilizarse. So that we will throw three or six drops in the bathtub once it is full. Then, we shake the water so that they get dissolved. The water no too hot, mainly in stimulative baths.

It is better to take the sedative baths whose function is to calm down, to relax and to help to get to sleep, at night, before sleeping, and to leave the stimulative baths for the morning. In this case we will only use two drops of oil for sensitive skin, since the substances of this type can be rather irritating.

The stimulative plants are: the mint, the cedar, the rosemary, the pine, the juniper and the lemon.

The sedative plants are: the camomile, the melisa and the lavender.

To alleviate the tired feet and the perspiration notthing is so good as a bath with oil of rosemary, juniper or cypress.

To elaborate perfums and oils for the bath and domestic massage is advisable to use the soft oils and to take some cautions: It is necessary not to apply them directly on the skin, since it can irritate it, neither in the pregnancy without before consulting with the doctor, since some of these substances are contraindicated during this period. Lastly, the lingering use of the only one oil should be avoided.

Antihelmínth. Substance that destroys or expels the roundworms.
Spasmolític. That isuppresses or cures the spasms.

More information in Beauty SPA Center of this interesting website:

Journalist specialized in Medicine


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