This treatment modality is thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health. Aromatherapy should be used with, not in place of, standard cancer therapy.
What does aromatherapy involve?
Natural, highly concentrated, pure oils that result from distilling flowering plants are used in aromatherapy. Oils from plants are grouped together by the physical and emotional effects they are thought to produce. Aromatherapists use as many as 40 different highly concentrated oils to treat physical and mental ailments patients experience. Therapeutic techniques with essential oils include skin massage, inhalation of humidifier steam and soaking in a fragrant bathtub.
How is aromatherapy thought to promote wellness and optimize overall health?
Aromatherapy seeks to relieve stress, energize the body and increase a sense of well-being in the body, which may promote wellness, and an improved quality of life in cancer patients. By relieving stress, the body’s immune system and, therefore, resistance to disease may be heightened.
What has been proven about the benefit of aromatherapy?
While there is no scientific proof, there are many reported benefits of essential oils, which include stimulation of the immune system, improved resistance to infection and relief from stress and depression. For example, rose fragrance is believed to improve appetite, aid digestion and tone the stomach, liver and spleen. It is known that small traces of a scent can activate nerve cells in the nasal cavity that trigger the olfactory and limbic areas of the brain. The limbic system is the memory and emotion center of the brain. Most doctors believe whatever relief might be provided by aromatherapy stems from an emotional response to the scents rather than any physiological effects.
What is the potential risk or harm of aromatherapy?
Essential oils should only be used externally. Toxicity may result if the oils are swallowed. Prolonged exposure to essential oils may cause allergic reactions. Excessive inhalation of fragrant vapors can cause headache, fatigue and bronchial spasms. If you have asthma, consult your physician before using aromatherapy.
How much does aromatherapy cost?
Costs for an appointment with a certified aromatherapist will vary. Patients can use essential oils as a self-help remedy at home, which will reduce the cost significantly.
For additional information:
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy
450- Interlake Avenue North, #233
Seattle, WA 98103-6773
Telephone: (888) 275-6242
Web site: www.naha.org
Web site: www.aromaweb.com
Aromatherapy to Heal and Tend the Body. Robert Tisserand. Santa Fe, NM: Lotus Light press, 1988.
Note: Information about therapies is intended to help you make informed choices, not to endorse any particular therapy. The information is courtesy of "Integrating Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Cancer Patients," a handbook written as an independent study project by Heather Morein. For more information, see the full text of the handbook (PDF), including all references and appendices.