One of the first functioning senses we have as a newborn is the sense of smell. We associate different aromas with childhood memories. Aromatherapy has gained popularity in recent years but has been used for centuries by people as a healing art. Herbal essential oils, and fresh and dried herbs, are used in most aromatherapy treatments.
Aromatherapy using herbs began as an oral tradition, with methods passed down from one generation to the next. As people transitioned from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to settlements, they began to plant herb gardens from seeds and cuttings they gathered in nearby fields and woodlands. Some herbs were grown in specific places to ward off evil spirits; others were grown for their essential oils that were added to candles. All levels of society had herb gardens; they ranged from simple kitchen gardens to intricate aesthetic designs.
Fresh herbs provide the most pungent aromas. Ideally an aromatherapy herb garden should be designed and located to obtain the longest possible growing season. Many herbs used in aromatherapy do well grown indoors, giving you a year-round supply. Greenhouses also provide extended and year-round growth. When you are designing your aromatherapy herb garden, consider which herbs you use most frequently and give those the easiest access. Know your herb plants; like other plants, each species will have its own unique requirements.
Aromatherapy is known to help with relaxation or gaining a sudden burst of energy. Designing your own aromatherapy herb garden gives you multiple opportunities to enjoy herbal scents in a variety of ways. A simple walk through an aromatherapy garden can uplift your spirits. Working directly with the plants, cultivating around them and pruning them brings you into direct contact with their various scents. Access to fresh herbs to create your own essential oils, potpourri and sachets allows more creativity in designing the scents that work best for you.
The space required for an aromatherapy herb garden will vary, depending on the number of different types of plants you wish to use. They can be quite expansive when grouping herbs by their specific scents. Aromatherapy herb gardens can also be grown in containers. Container gardens take up less space and offer you the opportunity to bring your garden indoors in cool weather. Small windowboxes will still offer the same benefits as an expansive garden, but maybe not quite the variety.
Modern medical establishments rely heavily on chemical treatments for various ailments and diseases. Herbal treatments are considered alternative medicine. Interestingly enough, most of today's chemical cures were originally derived from plants, most of them commonly found in aromatherapy herb gardens. As an example, digoxin (digitalis), a common medication for heart arrhythmias, is derived from foxglove plants. The Latin name for foxglove is Digitalis purpurea.