Is there anything I should watch out for?
Most topical and inhaled essential oils are generally considered safe. You should never take essential oils by mouth unless you are under the supervision of a trained professional. Some oils are toxic, and taking them by mouth could be fatal.Rarely, aromatherapy can induce side effects, such as rash, asthma, headache, liver and nerve damage, as well as harm to a fetus.Oils that are high in phenols, such as cinnamon, can irritate the skin. Add water or a base massage oil such as almond or sesame oil to the essential oil before applying to your skin. Avoid using near your eyes.Essential oils are highly volatile and flammable so they should never be used near an open flame.Animal studies suggest that active ingredients in certain essential oils may interact with some medications. Researchers don’t know if they have the same effect in humans. Eucalyptus, for example, may cause certain medications, including pentobarbital used for seizures and amphetamine used for narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to be less effective.
What is aromatherapy good for?
Aromatherapy is used in a wide range of settings — from health spas to hospitals — to treat a variety of conditions. In general, it seems to relieve pain, improve mood, and promote a sense of relaxation. In fact, several essential oils — including lavender, rose, orange, bergamot, lemon, sandalwood, and others — have been shown to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.
Several clinical studies suggest that when essential oils particularly rose, lavender, and frankincense were used by qualified midwives, pregnant women felt less anxiety and fear, had a stronger sense of well being, and had less need for pain medications during delivery. Many women also report that peppermint oil relieves nausea and vomiting during labor.
Massage therapy with essential oils combined with medications or therapy may benefit people with depression. The scents are thought by some to stimulate positive emotions in the area of the brain responsible for memories and emotions, but the benefits seem to be related to relaxation caused by the scents and the massage.
A person’s belief that the treatment will help also influences whether it works.In one study, Neroli oil helped reduce blood pressure and preprocedure anxiety among people undergoing a colonoscopy.
In test tubes, chemical compounds from some essential oils have shown antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Some evidence also suggests that citrus oils may strengthen the immune system and that peppermint oil may help with digestion. Fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary sage have estrogen like compounds, which may help relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause. However, human studies are lacking.
Other conditions for which aromatherapy may be helpful include:
Alopecia areata hair loss
Agitation, possibly including agitation related to dementia
Constipation with abdominal massage using aromatherapy
Pain: Studies have found that people with rheumatoid arthritis, cancer using topical chamomile, and headaches using topical peppermint require fewer pain medications when they use aromatherapy
Itching, a common side effect for those receiving dialysis
Should anyone avoid aromatherapy?
Pregnant women, people with severe asthma, and people with a history of allergies should only use essential oils under the guidance of a trained professional and with full knowledge of your physician.Pregnant women and people with a history of seizures should avoid hyssop oil.
People with high blood pressure should avoid stimulating essential oils, such as rosemary and spike lavender.
People with estrogen dependent tumors such as breast or ovarian cancer should not use oils with estrogen like compounds such as fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary-sage.
People receiving chemotherapy should talk to their doctor before trying aromatherapy.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are concentrated extracts taken from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants. Each contains its own mix of active ingredients, and this mix determines what the oil is used for. Some oils are used to promote physical healing — for example, to treat swelling or fungal infections. Others are used for their emotional value — they may enhance relaxation or make a room smell pleasant. Orange blossom oil, for example, contains a large amount of an active ingredient that is thought to be calming.
Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.It was the French perfumer and chemist, Rene- Maurice Gattefosse, who coined the term “aromatherapie” in 1937 with his publication of a book by that name. His book “Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy” contains early clinical findings for utilizing essential oils for a range of physiological ailments. It seems vital to understand what Gattefosse’s intention for coining the word was, as he clearly meant to distinguish the medicinal application of essential oils from their perfumery applications.So we can interpret his coining of the word “Aromatherapie” to mean the therapeutic application or the medicinal use of aromatic substances essential oils for holistic healing. As the practice of aromatherapy has progressed, over the years, it has adopted a more holistic approach encompassing the whole body, mind and spirit energy.