Definitions of terms and concepts related to aromatherapy, energy work and mind-body-spirit healing and wellness modalities. See also our webpages and blogs on these topics.
Allopathic (same as conventional medicine) is a form of medicine or healing based on the treatment of symptoms. A disease is addressed through the application of remedies (essentially drugs or surgery) to create an effect that is different from those of the disease.
Aromatherapy is the use of the all-natural aromatic substances of plants to evoke physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or energetic change. (See our webpage on aromatherapy for more information.)
Aromatics are derived from the parts of plants that contain volatile components that emit a distinct smell and can invoke physical, mental, emotional, energetic, or spiritual change. Depending on the specific plant, aromatics are extracted from flowers, leaves, twigs, roots, bark, resins, or fruits. (See our webpage on aromatherapy and aromatics for more information.)
Aura (variously defined). The aura is a layered field of subtle, luminous energy that surrounds and radiates through the body. For some energy workers, the aura is divided into four layers: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. For others, it is divided into seven subtle bodies, each comprising seven layers corresponding to the seven chakras. Still others envision seven layers, one for each chakra. The aura is sometimes defined as a subtle body and sometimes as an energy field.
Bio-energy (variously defined). For some, bio-energy refers to the energy of the body structure (bones, muscles, and so on). For others, it also includes the aura and all other etheric bodies and subtle or vibrational layers.
Blend (variously defined). A blend is a combination of essential oils design to evoke a specific physical, emotional, mental, energetic or spiritual effect. A blend is typically added to a base or carrier resulting in a specific product, e.g., cream, balm or spritz. (See our numerous blog posts on blending essential oils for a wide variety of intentions. Simply use keywords in the search bar to find related posts.)
Carrier is a substance in which essential oils are diluted. Carriers have several functions. They possess their own nutritive or healing properties. They help to spread essential oils evenly and over a greater surface area, and they influence the rate of absorption. They can act as preservatives or antioxidants (depending on the carrier) and dilute essential oils that would otherwise be too potent or irritating to use at full strength. Typical carriers include vegetable oils, butters, waxes, and clays, among others.
Central light column is an energetic column, channel or space that runs from the base of the spine through the top of the head where the seven major chakras can be found. Also referred to as the Sushumna.
Chakra is an energy center or vortex where energy is absorbed and expelled from the body. There are seven primary chakras (root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown) in addition to a number of minor chakras. Some believe that there are additional chakras (the eighth chakra, for example) or layers of chakras. There are numerous sub-chakras in addition to the primary chakras.
Chemotype is a significant and reliable variation in essential oil chemistry derived from a single plant specie, which typically arrises from notable differences in the growing conditions. In other words, in a few instances, more than one chemically distinct essential oil can be derived from a single plant specie depending on its growing conditions. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officincalis) are two common examples.
Conventional medicine (same as allopathic medicine) is a form of medicine or healing based on the treatment of symptoms. A disease is addressed through the application of remedies (essentially drugs or surgery) to create an effect that is different from those of the disease. Conventional medicine is also referred to as “modern medicine.”
Distillation is the separation of mixtures based on the volatility of their constituents. The most common method of essential oil extraction, distillation uses steam heat to draw aromatic components from plant material and a condenser for cooling. Once cooled, the resulting liquid is separated into the water-loving component, termed the hydrosol (also known as the hydrolat) and fat-loving component (in other words, the essential oil). While distillation is referred to an extraction method (extraction of whole or complete essential oils), it is distinct from many other extraction processes used in the flavor and fragrance industry to extract specific chemical components of natural plant products, sometimes with the aid of chemicals or synthetics and more extreme heat. (See our blog on distillation for more information.)
Diffuser oil is a blend of 100 percent all-natural plant-based essential oils that is placed in any kind of diffuser or vaporizer to diffuse the medicinal and vibrational (energetic or subtle) healing properties of the blend throughout a room or space.
Doctrine of Signatures dates back to early the Greek herbalist Dioscorides and Galen of the first and second century AD, respectively, who noted that many herbs that looked like parts of the human body could be used to treat aliments of those particular parts of body (systems, organs, etc).
Energy work encompasses a wide range of mind-body-spirit healing practices that focus on the body’s energy systems and how they relate to human health and well-being, e.g., Reiki, Integrated Energy Therapy, reflexology. (See our webpage on energy work for more information.)
Essential oil is the all-natural aromatic essence extracted from a whole or complete individual plant specie. It is hydrophobic (doesn’t like water) and lipophilic (loves lipid or fat) mixture of aromatic components. Essential oils are not actually oils or lipids. They do not leave an oily residue.
Flavor oil is an aromatic oil blended with a carrier. These oils can be natural, synthetic, or both. Flavor oils are essentially the same as fragrance oils, although only those deemed safe to consume should be used for flavoring.
Fragrance oil is an aromatic oil blended with a carrier. These oils can be natural, synthetic, or both. Fragrance oils are also called aromatic or aroma oils and are essentially the same as flavor oils.
Hydrolat – See hydrosol.
Hydrosol results from distillation, whereby water-loving volatile plant constituents are evaporated into steam and then condensed into liquid form—the hydrosol. Hydrosols are also referred to as hydrolats or floral waters. A word of caution. The latter term (floral water) is also used for a liquid to which essential oil has been added, which is not a hydrosol and does not have the same properties of a hydrosol. A true hydrosol has healing properties that are similar but not identical to the essential oil extracted from the same distillation process. Hydrosols are less concentrated than essential oils but can be quite energetically powerful.
Ida is one of three major nadis. It is the channel or space through which passive or introvertive prana or life force energy travels in the body. The other two major nadis are the sushumna and the pingala.
Integrated Energy Therapy ® (IET) is an energy work modality that was developed by Stevan Thayer, founding director of the Center of Being, Inc. IET is a mind-body-spirit practice and laying of the hands energy healing modality that combines energy channeling and specific pressure points. (See our webpage on IET for more information.)
Karmic memory comprises old energetic patterns and responses, often acquired through trauma, which inhibit or limit fulfillment. Some associate karmic energies with past lives, whereas others believe that karma can be acquired during past and current lives.
Kundalini (or Kundalini energy) is thought to be “asleep” and to lie coiled at the base of the spine and central light column (which runs from the base of the spine through the top of the head and contains the seven major chakras). Through meditation and other spiritual practices, Kundalini can be awakened and released. The release of Kundalini is associated with a surge in creative and spiritual energy and access to personal truths.
Life force energy is essentially what animates and gives life to people, animals, plants, and other living things. Life force energy is synonymous with universal life force.
Lightarian (or Lightarian Rays) is essentially an energetic tool. They grant energy workers (and by extension, clients) access to energy of higher vibrations, transforming and strengthening the healing from energy work as well as facilitating the progression along a spiritual path.
Limbic system is the part of the human brain that is the seat of emotions, instinct, and memory. It includes but is not limited to the amygdala (seat of emotion), hippocampus (integration of short- and long-term memory), and the hypothalamus (body regulation: temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep, sexual impulse). The limbic system is also responsible for our sympathetic autonomic nervous system response, or what is often referred to as the “fight or flight response.”
Meridians are channels or lines along which vital energy (chi) flows through the body.
Mind body integrates the physical and mental aspects and processes of a human being. Related to health, mind-body healing or medicine acknowledges that both the mind and body influence an individual’s health and illness.
Mind body spirit integrates the physical, mental, and energetic (or spiritual) aspects and processes of a human being. Related to health, mind-body-spirit healing acknowledges that the mind, physical body, and energetic bodies influence an individual’s health and illness.
Non-ordinary reality is that which belongs to our non-language based and extra-ordinary perception accessible through altered states, trances and various energy work and spiritual practices. The non-ordinary reality is accessible to everyone, but day to day reality (ordinary reality) of most people is based on, and understood through, left brain, cerebral, learned capacities and means of perception. To access the non-ordinary, one needs to suspend the dominance of ordinary perception and preconceptions. Non-ordinary reality is considered to be the same as life force energy or “all that is.” Compare this to ordinary reality.
Ordinary reality – is our day to day reality, which is based on, and understood through, left brain cerebral, learned capacities and means of perception, e.g., our senses and language. Compare this to non-ordinary reality.
Pingala is one of three major nadis. It is the channel to the left of the spine through which active or extroversive prana or life force energy flows. The other two major nadis are the sushumna and ida.
Reiki is a type of energy work practice, which originated in Japan and now has many different forms (see our webpage on Reiki for more information).
Smudging is a purification and energy clearing practice whereby wands of certain dried healing herbs are lit, the flame extinguished and the smoldering smoke passed over a person, an object or throughout a room or sacred space in order to purify and clear. (See our various blog posts on smudging, diffuser oil smudge (using essential oil blends) and liquid smudge.)
Soulstar is the eighth chakra, which contains the soul’s mission or one’s life purpose.
Subtle Aromatherapy is a form of aromatherapy that works principally with the energetic or vibrational qualities and influences of aromatic plant essences typically in the form of essential oils or hydrosols (the same as Vibrational Aromatherapy). See also our webpage on subtle aromatherapy
Sushumna is one of three major nadis, or an energetic channels or spaces through which prana or light force energy flows. It runs from the base of the spine through the top of the head where the seven major chakras can be found. The store of Kundalini energy lies at the base of the sushumna. Two other nadis run along the sides of the Sushumna: the Ida to the left and the pingala to the right. The sushumna is the same as the Central Light Column.
Universal life force is essentially the vital force that animates and gives life to people, animals, plants, and other living things. Universal life force is synonymous with life force energy.
Vibrational Aromatherapy is a form of aromatherapy that works principally with the energetic or vibrational qualities and influences of aromatic plant essences typically in the form of essential oils or hydrosols (the same as Subtle Aromatherapy). See also our webpage on vibrational aromatherapy.