An article, published in “The Voice of the Time”. December, 2000.
The World of Aromas – The Aromas of the World
The Sense of Smell
“… People could close their eyes to greatness, to horrors, to beauty, and their ears to melodies or deceiving words. But they could not escape scent. For scent was a brother to breath. Together with breath it enters human beings, who could not defend themselves against it, not if they wanted to live. And scent enters into their very core, went directly to their hearts, and decided for good and all between affection and contempt, disgust and lust, love and hate. He who ruled scent ruled the hearts of men”.
Patrick Suskind. PERFUME (Alma Litera, Vilnius, 1998, pg 131)
Form birth to death we live in the world full of aromas. Mother’s smell, warm milk, vaporising semolina porridge, morning coffee, a pavement after rain, autumn leaves fallen down, a sleeping dog, sterile dental surgery and a perfume’s shop smell with scents of the world – these are only some aromas that awake the chain of colourful associations, feelings and memories from which a whole mosaic of our lives is made up. Scents and aromas are always near – named or nameless, pleasant or nasty, strong or hardly perceptible. They mix and intertwine between them as invisible threads creating chords of aromas or whole symphonies, weaving our moods, states, thoughts and reactions. Only a blessed naive and ignorant about dictatorial power of scents man can state that our behaviour is conditioned by our free will and rational voice of mind. Thousands of volatile aromatic molecules with every breath triggering our smell receptors, as soldiers of an invisible front, attack the deepest and most secret layers of the central nervous system and awake old as the world reactions: hunger, aggression, sexual excitement, fight for existence and a continuous chain of instincts. That is why Jean Batist Grenuie for thousand times was right – a crazy perfumerer, colourfully described in the novel by Patrick Suskind “Perfume”- saying that “who rules the scents, rules the hearts of people”.
Breathing is one of the basic functions of human organism. We may endure for days without food and water, however, without air we would die in few minutes. Breathing like waves wash our lungs and always come in pairs: inhalation and expiration, as a high and low tide in the ocean of life. The only exceptions are fatal moments – birth and death – inexorably determining outlines of our history, the beginning and the end. While coming to this world for the first time we breath in the scents of the world and at the moment of the last sigh we start for a new adventure into a journey through airless space of Bardo.
The scientists have calculated, that a man inhales and expire about 23 000 times per day on average, passing through the lungs about 10 000 litre of air – fragrant air, which irritates the receptors of smell and smell brain, the oldest part of the cerebrum back part. The organ of smell was the first to form in the development of the evolution. However, it is still least explored. The smell brain belongs to the limbic system that is why the sense of scents has influence to its effect (emotions, behaviour, feelings, even memory and perception). The sense of smell is particularly important for sexual attraction like in the animal’s life so in the humans’ too. From ancient times women always knew intuitively this secret dressing themselves not only with colourful clothes but also with aura of most exotic aromas. The sense of smell gives us information about environment around us and warns us about dangers. The perception of smell is closely connected with sense of taste: when we catch cold, not only we do not smell scents but do not sense the taste of food, too. The psychologists state that the sense of smell, as the thread of Ariadne, connects a blind and deaf new-born child with the outer world, till other senses are not developed. It is the window and door through which our soul looks through to the world. For we could smell, chemical material has to secrete its particles to environment – be volatile.
The essential oils are described as volatile, aromatic, amorfic (changing physical state), basic aromatherapic substances, the soul of a plant closed in a bottle, the fifth element linking the earth with the sky. “The world is fragrant” – states aromatherapy.
“There are scents which preserve in decades. A wardrobe rubbed with muscus, a piece of leather wet in cinnamon, a lump of amber, a box of cedar scent till are alive. Others – oil of lime, bergamot, narcissi, tuberose extracts, and many other flower fragrances become flat after few hour, if fresh air comes in a direct contact with them. A perfumerer opposes these fatal circumstances coupling too volatile scents with more stable ones, as if he hobbles the first ones taming their aspiration for freedom. The whole art is there: that the bonds have to be light enough, for a tied up scent could be free, and at the same time tight enough not to let them escape.”
Patrick Suskind “PERFUME” (pg 161)
Aromatherapy is a treatment of physical and spiritual problems (in a wide sense) and prophylaxis using natural aromas of plant origin. The essential oils are basic substances of aromatherapy. They are fragrant combinations of complex volatile substances produced from aromatic plant by distillation.
Even though the word “aromatherapy” for the first time was used only in 1937, when the book of “Aromatherapie” by a famous French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse appeared, this science and art is old as the world. Having appeared in the joint of Oriental and Occidental cultures; having connected the traditional popular medicine and the newest science achievements, aromatherapy is a natural, not evasive healing and prophylactic system, effecting the whole man, not only a separate symptom or illness, helping to restore a natural balance in organism, to regulate, to cure and to maintain health with the help of essential and vegetable oils.
Aromatherapy may be called an art because intuition and the perception of beauty are inseparable helpers for aromatherapist (a specialist in this area) in every step: while preparing mixtures of the essential oils (synergies) for a concrete person, creating fragrance bouquets (pomanders) for aromatisation of environment, making natural cosmetics and similar. However, aromatherapy is also a science investigating physiological, psychological and spiritual reactions of an individual to aromatic extracts of plants, stimulating natural self-regulation and a process of recovery of a person. As a holistic branch of medicine aromatherapy is applied for prophylactic aims, as well as a healing method. The modern aromatherapy refers to the newest science achievements in chemistry, physic, botany, agriculture, ecology, medicine, psychology and philosophy knowledge.
The world of aromatherapy is various and complex, as the aromas that constitute it. The door we choose to enter this fragrant universe and what we are going to do depends on our necessities, intentions, problems and desires. In the modern aromatherapy these main branches are distinguished:
1. Traditional and Holistic Aromatherapy. This field of aromatherapy applies a massage, as a basic work method. The active aromatherapy substances – the essential oils – get into human organism in two ways:
- through skin (during massage, having diluted the latter with vegetable oils),
- through respiratory organs (breathing the volatile essential oils).
The initiator of this branch was a famous French Biochemist Marguerite Maury. The holistic aromatherapy is widely spread in Great Britain.
2. The Aromatherapy Consultation. This is a general modelling of an environment with the help of aromas and professional consultation by choosing personal aromas. The main method is the use of the essential oils in the volatile form, through smell (aroma lamps, diffusers, fragrant bouquets – pomanders, fragrant candles, incense and similar).
Individuals and the biggest companies, hospitals, shops, air-lines, hotels, banks and various institutions appeal to aromatherapist to create favourable work atmosphere, to diminish strain and stress, to prepossess positively workers and visitors, to assure harmonious relations and to improve interrelations. The aromas are usually used in advertisements and trade, emphasising exclusiveness of a new good and attracting customers. This branch of aromatherapy is widely spread in the USA and Japan.
3. Medical Aromatherapy. In this branch are engaged professional physicians, in addition to allopathic medicine prescribing to their patients the internal use of the essential oils for their antiseptic, antibacterial and antibiotic effect. In order to choose the most suitable essential oil for a concrete patient antibiograms and aromatograms, the analysis that shows which essential oils will cope best with the present infection or virus, are carried out.
The initiators of the medical aromatherapy are French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse and Doctor Jean Valnet. This aromatherapy branch is prospering in France. It is applied by doctors of general practice in medical institutions and hospitals.
4. Esthetical Aromatherapy. This is the usage of oil mixtures for massage and cosmetic procedures, preparation of aromatherapic remedies according individual needs of a client. This aromatherapy branch is closely connected with cosmetology.
The esthetical aromatherapy is gradually consolidating in the whole world as a natural way to maintain beauty and health. In the occidental countries the aromatherapic cosmetics have become a matter of prestige and fashion. It successfully competes with chemical means of skin and hygiene care regardless to its high prices. Being satiated with synthetically chemicals men are inclined to invest into health and ecology.
In spite of all these world pretentiousness, the fragrant aromatherapy palace remained to stand on the irreplaceable elephants – whales - atlants: an aromatherapist, a client, the essential oils and their interaction. “In order to heal a person individual remedies are necessary. Every of us is a unique message and only a unique medicine can help”, - wrote M. Maury. That is why aromatherapy is an individual method of treatment and prophylaxis bringing back harmony, naturalness and balance into our techno-virtual world.
Lithuania Must Be Fragrant
In such a way decided the members of the First International Baltic Conference of Aromatherapy which was held in Palanga on the 10-12 of November of this year to share professional secrets, to discuss courageous future plans. “AROMA ‘2000 - Fragrancing the Future” is the first conference of such a character and scale in this part of East Europe, which gathered the best specialists of aromatherapy from the entire world. This memorable and cordial weekend of November by the sea in the hospitable “Baltija” rest hotel became the official birthday of professional aromatherapy “of the highest quality”. We may be proud that this healthy and lively child was born in Lithuania, delivered by many enthusiasts, incorrigible idealists and romanticists, believing that the world may and has to be fragrant!
In the Conference it was decided to establish the Aromatherapy Association of Baltic and Slavic states, to establish the Aromatherapy Distance Studies, which will lay bases for professional aromatherapists preparation in Lithuania and Latvia. The Baltic Conference received attention and support of honourable foreign aromatherapy organisations. NAHA (The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) – Jade Shutes, President of the USA National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy addressed the conference participants with a friendly letter, inviting the aromatherapists of Baltic states to join the ranks of professionals and to use the accumulated experience of colleagues. Encouraged by the first success, the enthusiasts of Baltic States aromatherapy decided to organise regularly professional gatherings. The next conference is previewed in 2002 in the capital of Latvia, Riga.
The initiator and sponsor of the conference, Jan Kusmirek, a famous aromatherapy specialist from Great Britain not by chance has chosen Lithuania. Being of Polish-Irish origin him as no other understands ambiguous situation of Baltic States rushing between East and West. “The major number of most professional world perfumerers and aromatherapists are emigrants from the East Europe. However, customers know more Christian Dior, Jean Paul Guerlain, Lancome and many others famous names of perfumery firms. If the people of Baltic and Slavic states were able to preserve proper old national traditions and innate perfumery talents, to reveal all this in original aromatherapy style, after some years the occidental specialists would come to learn from you”, - stated the master of aromatherapy during his visit in Lithuania.
Jan Kusmirek is one of the most genius “noses” of this world, a creator of perfumes and aromatherapy cosmetics. He studied pharmacy and cosmetology, fitotherapy and aromatherapy, is a specialist in agriculture and soil research, an expert of management and commercial aromatherapy. Jan Kusmirek travels a lot, lectures aromatherapy in Europe, USA, and Asia, he is the author of many articles and the book “Aromatherapy for the Family”. Jan Kusmirek is the author of various medical-social projects. Trying to introduce aromatherapy and natural healing methods into modern medicine he collaborates with social and treatment institutions, psychologists and psychotherapists. Interested in vibration medicine, he studied therapy of colours and crystals, investigated the psychotherapy effect of the essential oils and their energetic characteristics. “I work with plants trying to find application for treasures of nature hidden in them”, - in such a way Jan Kusmirek describes the essence of his work.
The Fragrant Earth Co. Ltd. aromatherapy company established by Jan Kusmirek is famous in the entire world for the production of the essential oils of the highest quality. Together with other seven companies this firm makes “The Companies of Ancient Sunshine” group, which cherish the best aromatherapy traditions and supply famous cosmetic, perfumery companies and professional aromatherapists with material. Jan Kumirek’s clients are Estee Lauder, Elemis, Body Shop, Avon, Matisse, Natural Assets and many other companies.
Not by chance in this article so much space is dedicated to one person. “Foreign invasion to Lithuanian market”, - may say a sceptic. ”The occidental charity for poor Baltic States”, may think credulous. However, not tormenting ourselves with the analysis of the work, we have to recognise unquestionable historical fact. Namely Jan Kusmirek, the founder of the company The Fragrant Earth Co. Ltd, the leader of the Fragrant Studies International Ltd., the alive classic of aromatherapy brought (more precisely brought back) to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the higher professional aromatherapy and tried to separate professionalism from commerce. What will be this newly born Lithuanian aromatherapy, it depends only on us now.