What Is The Difference Between Herbalism And Aromatherapy?

Herbalism and aromatherapy, two fields of natural medicine that are related but yet each is unique. What is the difference between herbalism and aromatherapy?

Herbalism utilizes the plant’s leaves, flowers, stems or roots, fresh or dried, in treating ailments. Tinctures, teas, salves, infusions, and oils are made from whole plant material and treat conditions both internally and externally. When you use herbs as medicine, you receive the health benefits of the whole plant; the phytonutrients, tannins, bitter components, mucilage, glycoside etc found in the plant.

In aromatherapy, only the extracted oil of the plant is used. Essential oils are 75-100 times more concentrated than dried herbs. Essential oils represent the water-insoluble components of the plant. Whole herbs are the water-soluble parts of the plant.

Plant-based remedies are considered the oldest form of medicines and have been in use in nearly all cultures around the world.


Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils to heal the body, mind, and spirit. Essential oils are the scent molecules of plants. Plants make essential oils for various reasons. The oils help plants communicate with each other, attract pollinators, compete with other plants, prevent microbial infections and deter herbivores and insects.

The oils are able to ease stress, uplift your mood and nourish your body. Aromatherapy is normally used through inhalation or as a topical application. They are best diluted with fixed oils, also called vegetable or carrier oils, such as olive, almond or jojoba oil. For most people, a 2% dilution works well. Simply add 10-12 drops of essential oil per fluid ounce of carrier oil.


Aromatherapy has an array of benefits:

  • manage pain
  • improve sleep quality
  • reduce stress, agitation, and anxiety
  • soothe sore joints
  • treat headaches and migraines
  • alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy
  • ease discomforts of labor
  • fight bacteria, virus, or fungus
  • improve digestion
  • improve hospice and palliative care
  • boost immunity



Herbal medicine is the art and science of using herbs for promoting health and preventing and treating illness. It has persisted as the world’s primary form of medicine since the beginning of time. Herbalism has a written history of more than 5000 years old. About 75% of the world’s population still relies primarily upon traditional healing practices, most of which are herbal medicine.

Herbalists use the seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, and flowers of plants for medicinal purposes. They take a holistic approach to medicine, meaning they focus on comprehensive health care that addresses the physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and economic needs of the patient.


  • More affordable than conventional medicine.
  • Easier to obtain than prescription medicine.
  • Stabilizes hormones and metabolism.
  • Natural healing.
  • Strengthen the immune system.
  • Fewer side effects.
  • Cost-effective.
  • Herbal medicine utilizes the body’s natural healing process for treating conditions.
  • Widespread availability

In my opinion, you don’t have to choose between one method or the other. Some ailments respond better to herbs  because the entire body may need nourishment. Essential oils are most powerful when inhaled, bringing about wonderful results when mixed with carrier oils or lotions and applied to the skin. Each method can be complementary to each other for healing your entire being.

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