Definition: Defining the Meaning of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aromatic compounds for the purpose of altering one's mood, cognitive, psychological or physical wellbeing. Aromatherapy can be offered as a complementary therapy or, more controversially, as form of alternative medicine. Complementary therapy can be offered alongside standard treatment, with alternative medicine offered instead of conventional treatments, conventional treatments being often scientifically proven.
Aromatherapy has been a part of human history for centuries past. It dates back to the Egyptian times when essential oils where extracted from plants by soaking them for a while and then filtering out the oils through a linen bag.
Some records have it that the procedure now known as aromatherapy was used by Hippocrates and other historic Egyptian physicians. But it did not become general knowledge until late in the 1920s when the French scientist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse first used the procedure in treating the wounded of World War I.
The term 'Aromatherapy' was coined by this scientist. After continuous researching, he discovered that certain essential oils have different healing properties. He went ahead to classify these plant essential oils into groups like antiseptic, stimulating, calming, anti-toxic, etc based on their healing properties.
However, aromatherapy has come along way from that starting point. Interest has been increasing in this area of holistic healing with many users claiming that aromatherapy encourages stress relief and self-healing. One, therefore wonders, how does aromatherapy works and how far can it realistically go with self-healing and emotional/mental uplifting.
Basically, with aromatherapy, aroma-rich oils are extracted from specific plants.
These oils are mixed with other materials like alcohol, oils, lotions etc to give the desired effects on the body. These formulated oils are then applied to the body by either massaging them into the skin, inhaling though air disbursement or pouring into bath water for a soothing and calming effect on the body.
When massaged to the skin, it is believed that the oils are absorbed into the body through the pores on the skin and then directly into the blood stream. The oils are believed to be lipophilic in nature, making it easy to gain entrance into body cells to exert their healing effects. Oils in the bath water seem to follow this pattern too, except that the effect of the oil water mixture tend to add an extra soothing and relaxing feeling to the body. This would be understood better if you think about what a cool shower does to a tired body on a hot afternoon.
When inhaled, the aroma of the oils is believed to activate cells in the nose, sending sensory signals to the limbic system of the brain. This is the part of the brain that takes care of higher sensory functions like emotion, thinking and intelligence.
This would give you a clue into how aromatherapy works. It is believed by practitioners that it can be used emotionally to invigorate, calm and relieve stress and physically to help treat or alleviate certain conditions by stimulating the body's immune system, the nervous system or the circulatory system.
Although, not much scientific evidence is available to support the claims, aromatherapy practitioners believe that aromatherapy can be applied to a wide array of therapeutic treatments including physical and mental conditions, burns, infections, depression, sleep deprivation and high blood pressure.
The best advice is that, aromatherapy should be seen as an adjunct to the normal body healing system. It should be used to complement the body's immune function, but not as a replacement for professional medical attention especially in people with evident signs and symptoms of a medical condition.
Aromatherapy could be well effective in uplifting moods, relieving stress and perhaps invigorating the mind, but the therapeutic powers of these plant oils should probably not be over stretched beyond these limits.
Clinical Aromatherapy Programs:
The use of essential oils in clinical aromatherapy programs is experiencing rapid growth, as health care providers search for natural and effective measures to help relieve their patient concerns such as anxiety, nausea and fatigue. Studies support that it decreases the need for costly medications before or after treatments. Not only do integrative therapies help decrease costs but they can dramatically improve the patient satisfaction score for the health care facility as the patient feels more engaged in their treatment plan.
Hospitals looking to upgrade their clinical aromatherapy programs from drops of essential oils on cotton balls are making the switch to the Bioesse Inhalation Patch. The patch is a patented delivery method for providing the benefits of essential oils through inhalation. Practitioners now have a clean and simple alternative for administering essential oils without dermal contact. It only takes seconds to open and apply, will last 6-8 hours, and there is no mess to clean up. The patch is pre-filled with a controlled dosage of 100% premium therapeutic quality essential oils for ease of use in facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. Its cost effectiveness makes it practical to use in pre-op, post-op, and general use such as the ER, ortho, behavioral science, rehab and many more treatments.
For medical facilities interested in learning more about the inhalation patch and how they can integrate these into their clinical aromatherapy programs can contact wyndmerenaturals.com
Quick Facts: Aromatherapy
- Some hospitals and universities are researching further on the use of aromatherapy oils.
- Some companies in Japan are pumping these oils through air conditioning to improve employee efficiency.
- Aromatherapy massage is one of the most popular complementary therapies among patients with cancer and the most widely practiced within cancer care settings.
- Aromatherapy carries a risk of a number of adverse effects and this consideration, combined with the lack of evidence of its therapeutic benefit, makes the practice of questionable worth.
- Aromatherapy massage has been shown to relieve self-reported symptoms of anxiety in the immediate aftermath of the therapy, and patients perceive aromatherapy massage as positive and beneficial.
- Many people classify aromatherapy as a type of alternative treatment or a division of holistic medicine. While others believe that aromatherapy is a proven science used both in the prevention and treatment of disease.