Aromatherapy for Animals’ Health & Well Being
Another complementary therapy for an animal’s health and well being which is gaining recognition is aromatherapy. Sometimes it is also known as essential oil therapy.
Generally speaking essential oils are described as highly concentrated volatile substances obtained from the roots, bark, leaves, flowers, needles, resins, fruit or seeds of aromatic plants. Essential oils can be obtained by steam distillation, solvent extraction, carbon dioxide extraction or manual expression.
The use of aromatic and herbal plants for healing has an ancient history and the modern aromatherapy practiced today is based on how aromatic plants were used by earlier cultures. The word aromatherapie was coined by a French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse in 1937 when he published “Gattefosses Aromatherapy”. Earlier in his life while working he badly burned his hand. He treated it with lavender essential oil and was amazed by the quick recovery from his burns. This incident inspired his immersion into the study of essential oils.
Two other individuals that contributed to the aromatherapy we recognize today are Dr. Jean Valnet and Maury Marquerite.
Dr. Valnet, a traditional French medical doctor, began researching essential oils in 1953. His research studied the anti-infectious and antibiotic properties of essential oils. His focus and study using essential oils was based on a scientific and clinical approach. The French have a long history and clinical data for using essential oils medicinally.
For many people in the United States the first place they were introduced to aromatherapy is at a spa via a massage and/or when receiving an esthetics service. We can thank an Austrian nurse, Maury Marquerite, who pioneered the application of essential oils to the skin of her patients during massage. She recognized that the essential oils had both a physiological and psychological effect when dermally applied. Marquerite is also recognized for treating each person individually which is one of the core principles of holistic aromatherapy practices.
The first doctor credited for treating animals with aromatherapy is Dr. Louis Sevelinge during the 1940’s.
The past 60 plus years of research and use of aromatherapy has increased the number of people and animals that have benefited from this modality. And over the last 10 years the commercial market claiming aromatherapy has exploded.
With commercialization and the rise of more aromatherapy products on the market I ask you to use discretion. Some products are sold by individuals that may not be trained in the safe and effective use of these aromatic products.
Aromatherapy is in its childhood stage for humans in the United States and only in an infancy stage for animals. Personally, I believe aromatherapy is an effective complementary therapy for an animal’s well being and I use essential oils with my own animals. More animal guardians are asking for less chemicals and more natural products for their animals and one can find many products such as shampoos and conditioners that contain essential oils rather than harsh chemicals.
In the United States I have recently noticed more holistic veterinarians offering essential oils for their four- legged clients. Conventionally, veterinarians treat skin conditions with antibiotics, immune-suppressive and anti-inflammatory drugs. Essential oils have found to be effective for treating many skin conditions and with the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, more veterinarians are thus considering essential oils. There are other applications and more research is being done in the holistic veterinary community so I expect there will be an increase in medicinal use of essential oils for our four legged friends over the next few years.
In the near future I may offer aromatherapy products for dermal applications and for use in diffusers. My focus for the products will be for the safety of the animal and with respect for the environment from which the essential oils are obtained.