Aromatherapy is the use of plant extracts for both physiological and physical benefits. The aromatic substance, referred to as essential oils, is either inhaled or absorbed by the skin to improve mood, health and well-being. Aromatherapy is a form of supportive care and helps to improve the patient’s quality of life by reducing stress and anxiety. Some of the most popular plant extracts are jasmine, lavender, rosemary, chamomile, eucalyptus, ylang ylang, marjoram, peppermint, lemon and geranium.
Aromatherapy can be administered by a trained practitioner or it can be self-administered. Several types of professional utilize aromatherapy in their practice: massage therapists, chiropractors, psychologists, and social workers are among the list of those who use aromatherapy as part of their treatment. The inhalation method uses essential oils which are placed in steaming water, atomizers, or humidifiers. This causes the water vapor/oil combination to spread throughout the room. Oils may also be placed in a ceramic, metal or glass dish over a candle flame to disperse the fragrance. Aromatherapy oils are also added to bathwater, or applied directly to the skin during a massage.
History of Aromatherapy
The use of essential oils dates thousands of years back to ancient China, Egypt and India. Thousands of years ago, the Chinese compiled an informational encyclopedia on the uses of different plants and trees. In India, essential oil massages were used as a part of Ayurvedic medicine. Egyptians also used perfumed essential oils, except they didn’t use it for its healing qualities. Egyptians used the oils after bathing and during the process of embalming mummies.
When French chemist René Maurice Gattefossé first used lavender oil to soothe the pain from a burn on his hand, he noticed that it healed quickly without leaving a scar. He wrote his first thesis in 1928 on the benefits of aromatherapy oils, titled “Aromatherapie”.
There is no scientific evidence to support the claims that aromatherapy can prevent, treat or cure any disease such as cancer. However, the use of essential oils may enhance the quality of life in patients. Clinical trials for aromatherapy have shown that essential oils may be a supplemental treatment to reduce pain, nausea, anxiety, stress and depression. Some people have reported that inhaling ginger, peppermint and cardamom oil vapors help to relieve the nausea that is caused by radiation and chemotherapy. Lavender oil has been known to help relieve anxiety, insomnia and muscle tension. In one clinical trial, black pepper extract was successfully used to reduce the craving for tobacco while improving the overall mood of the participant. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, or other cancers and illnesses, might consider an alternative therapy such as aromatherapy in accordance with their standard treatments.