Aromatherapy has two words “Aroma” meaning fragrance and “therapy” meaning treatment. Thus, aromatherapy means treatment to help or cure a mental or physical illness by using aromatic oils. Aromatherapy is the use of concentrated essential oils extracted from herbs, flowers, and other plant parts to treat various diseases1 . Aromatherapy is one of the fastest growing modalities in complementary and alternative medicine. It utilizes naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of spirit, mind and body. Rene- Maurice Gattefosse coined the term “Aromatherapie” in 1937. However, the concept of use of aromatic herbs for wellbeing of human beings had its roots in Vedas. The famous Maha-Mritunjaya Mantra quotes that “Sugandhim pushti vardhanam” (Rudra-Astaadhyayi) which means that use of fragrant things helps in maintain good health. Aroma therapy is a modern term for an ancient healing practice that is more than 5000 years-old; there are descriptions of the burning of fragrant herbs, flowers, barks and resins, to enhance healing and meditation in the Vedic texts. The earliest holistic healers made incense, oils, salves and poultices from a variety of aromatic botanicals. Use of aromatic herbs was a common practice in ancient times.
There are numerous evidences in texts of Ayurveda that shows that aromatic herbs were a part of daily routine. In the context of Dinacharaya (Day regime), the Acharyas had advocated the use of aromatic herbs in the form of Lepa (local application in the form of pack) or wear garland of fragrant flowers. It leads to good health, acts as aphrodisiac and increases body strength . Also, the herbs for Lepa were used as per the season e.g. Agaru (Aquilaria agallocha) to be used in winter season while Chandana (Santalum album) should be used in summer season3 . There are numerous evidences in Ayurveda texts that clarifies that use of aromatic drugs was a specialized field at that time. In Ayurveda texts of the medieval period like Sushen Nighantu there is a separate Varga on Anulepana Dravya having description of aromatic herbs. Aromatherapy was a well-developed sphere of Ayurveda. Now, it’s time to practice aromatherapy on the basis of principles of Ayurveda.