What is Aromatherapy?

It was in my California garden, back in 1999, that I started Pharmacopia. I knew then, as I know now, that plants have powerful healing and mood-boosting benefits that support the body. One thing that makes plants so potent: their essential oils. These powerful aromatic compounds extracted from plants’ flowers, bark, fruit, and leaves capture the plant’s essence and have tremendous healing benefits. It’s these essential oils that we use in all of our Pharmacopia products. They’re what give our Verbena, Citrus, Mint, and Argan Oil products their incredible lingering scent—and what makes you feel uplifted and energized after using them!

Natural vs Synthetic: What’s the Difference?

Pharmacopia AromatherapyPlants make their own aromatic essential oil compounds. They are the purest expression of their character. Call it Mother Nature’s pharmacy. These oils are highly fragrant and super concentrated. To capture these powerful, fragrant compounds, plant parts are steamed and distilled (turning plant essences into a liquid form) or pressed, as is the case with the rinds of citrus fruits like the lemons, grapefruit, oranges, and bergamot, used in our products. (It’s also true for the chamomile essence used in our ever-popular Lip Elixir.) These processes are delicate and take time, not to mention that it can take several pounds of a plant to produce just one bottle of essential oil. It takes, for example, about 250 pounds of lavender flower to make up one pound of lavender essential oil, and it takes about 5,000 pounds of rose petals or lemon balm to make one pound of rose or lemon balm essential oil. 

These plant essences have powerful aromatherapy benefits. When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils travel from the nose directly to the brain and the central nervous system, and specifically the amygdala (the emotional center of the brain), to impact our emotional response, our mood, and even our stress response. Essential oils can also be absorbed by the skin, having a similar effect. Pretty cool! (Note: Essential oils are super concentrated and should not be applied directly to the skin; they can be mixed in with a carrier oil, or into a product like Pharmacopia’s Argan Oil Shampoo.) This is why we unquestionably include essential oils in all of our products. It's a no-brainer.

Synthetic scents on the other hand are less expensive because they’re mass created in man-made “plants” or factories. These chemical-based fragrance oils are designed to mimic those found in nature, but they never quite do them justice. While synthetic fragrances might smell nice, they simply cannot replicate the healing aromatherapeutic benefits of natural essential oils which are made from nature’s own raw materials. In addition to smelling great, essential oils have protective anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties that synthetic fragrances don’t have. In our minds, there’s no question: essential oils are hands down, a better option.

Healing Benefits of Essential Oils

The elaborate chemical makeup of essential oils can consist of over 100 individual natural chemical compounds that contributing to their healing powers! You won’t find that in any synthetic fragrance. Some of the benefits of the essential oils we use in our Pharmacopia products:

  • Boosts mood. Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil—a top ingredient in our Verbena Collection of products—is often referred to as Chinese pepper or mountain pepper. It’s extracted from an evergreen tree or shrub by the same name. These essential oils (sweet and fruity with a hint of lemon) are extracted from the tree’s fruits.

Researchers have found that this fruit seed essential oil is pretty powerful, why it has medicinal benefits thanks to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties. It helps treat indigestion and other stomach ailments, as well as helping boost mood.

Feel-more-fabulous hack Fill a basin with warm water, add two or three squirts of Pharmacopia’s Argan Oil Body Wash along with a quarter of a cup of Epsom salts. Soak feet for 10 to 15 minutes. Follow up by patting feet dry and then massaging in our Argan Oil Body Lotion. Add a cozy pair of socks—and you’ll be feeling pretty amazing afterward!

  • Helps you stay positive. Citrus Bergamia (Bergamot) Oil—a key scent in our Citrus Collection—comes from rinds of the tropical bergamot orange fruit, which gives it its soothing, sweet aroma. Citrus essential oil benefits include staying positive and uplifted. But there’s more to this oil than that; researchers found that it also has powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and antioxidant properties, making it a good addition to any skin- or hair-care regimen.

Positivity hack Keep a bottle of Argan Oil Body Lotion by your desk or in your car to massage into your hands whenever you need a quick pick me up. Not only will your hands stay soft, you’ll be better able to see the bright side of things!

  • Reduces stress. Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil—found in our Verbena products—is a flowering plant belonging to the Rutaceae or citrus family. It can boost mood, mental alertness, and reduce stress and anxiety. What’s more, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil—a key ingredient in our Citrus line of products—comes from the fragrant rind of the orange. It also has been shown to reduce stress and boost energy, something we know firsthand whenever we use it!

Cymbopogon Flexuosus (Lemongrass) Leaf Oil—infused into our Verbena products—can also reduce stress and anxiety. This oil, with a powerful citrus, lemon-like scent, is extracted from the leaves and stalks of the Lemongrass plant.

So many of these citrus products also exhibit powerful antibacterial and antifungal benefits.

Stress-busting hack Try massaging in Pharmacopia’s Citrus Body Lotion for a few extra minutes in the morning if you have a stressful day ahead.

  • Helps keep your scalp healthy. Juniperus Virginiana (Cedar) Oil—found in our Verbena collection—comes from the juniper tree. It has a woody, balsamic, cedar scent that gives our Verbena products their intoxicating aroma.

This essential oil helps to calm anxiety and the mind, which is one reason it’s been shown to help sleep. It also has antibacterial benefits. Cedar, or cedarwood oil as it’s often referred to, also has soothing, anti-inflammatory properties particularly when used on the scalp. One small study showed that people experiencing hair loss seemed to experience hair growth after massaging in a mix of cedarwood, lavender, thyme, and rosemary essential oils every day for seven months.

Healthy scalp hack Apply Pharmacopia’s Verbena Conditioner to the scalp, massaging in for several minutes. Then place a shower cap over hair and leave on for up to 30 minutes to infuse the scalp with the essential oils and give great shine and conditioning. Rinse off.

  • Keeps you alert. Mentha x Piperita (Peppermint) Oil—what helps give our Mint Argan Collection its heady, invigorating aroma—is from the mint family, a mix between spearmint and watermint. This essential oil is distilled from the leaves of the plant. Mint’s essential oil benefits include being good for digestion (hello mint tea for stomach upsets!). It also helps to boost attention thanks to its uplifting nature, memory, and even breathing. What’s more, peppermint oil has antioxidant, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Pretty amazing for a little perennial herb!

Mid-day alertness hack Take a few drops of Pharmacopia’s Mint Argan Lotion and massage it into your temples. Try massaging for one to two minutes while closing your eyes and deep breathing.