Alternative Medicine: Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils (the essence of the oils, in other
words) from flowers, herbs and trees to enhance one's spiritual, physical and
emotional well-being. The oils are produced by heating them and then distilling
Practitioners of aromatherapy and other people who believe in its usefulness
say that it's beneficial for a wide range of symptoms and conditions, from acne
to whooping cough.
There has been a fair amount of research conducted on the effects that odors
have on the human brain and emotions. Results have shown that certain odors
can affect mood, one's perception of one's own health, stress and anxiety level.
The research suggests that aromatherapy can help to reduce your sense of stress
and help you to relax during difficult times.
Aromatherapy practitioners apply the oils in various ways:Placing drops of oil on a patient's pillow, so that the aroma is inhaled
Massaging the oils directly onto the body
Placing drops of oil in bathwater, lotions or dressings
The field of aromatherapy is not regulated-the oils don't require approval
by the Food and Drug Administration. Practitioners tend to use combinations
of oils that they believe work best. For that reason, there's very little standardization,
and it's been difficult to conduct large, controlled studies.
On the other hand, some small studies have shown that people with cancer who
receive aromatherapy treatment do experience a reduction in anxiety and depression
and an increase in their sense of well-being. Some patients have reported a
decrease in pain.
If you're interested in aromatherapy, there's very little reason not to give
it a try. It can be very relaxing, which is beneficial in and of itself.
The National Cancer Institute; The National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health