What is Aromatherapy?
And how can it be used?
Aromatherapy is the use of plant essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Essential oils have been used in fragrances, flavourings and medicines for thousands of years and there are around 400 different oils extracted from plants all over the world. Each oil has its own special therapeutic properties, and can be used or applied in a variety of ways, including:
BODY MASSAGE, with the oils blended in a carrier oil or cream (this is perhaps the most popular application of aromatherapy);
By adding a few drops to WARM BATH WATER (ideally diluted first);
Through STEAM INHALATION or VAPORISERS;
In CREAMS and LOTIONS for individual use;
Essential oils, which are highly aromatic, are readily absorbed into the body via the skin and lungs, and are believed to affect the body on all levels - physically, mentally and even emotionally/spiritually. When combined with massage, which helps to soothe away muscular tension and improve circulation, an aromatherapy treatment can be either deeply relaxing or uplifting, depending on the oils and massage techniques used by the therapist.
Aromatherapy is used by people for a variety of reasons. Some use it to help them manage or cope with specific physical, mental or emotional problems, while others use it as means of relaxation, or to help maintain good health and a sense of general well-being.
Aromatherapy massage and essential oils are commonly used in hospitals, hospices and other healthcare settings, to help support patients and their carers.
What is Complimentary and Alternative Medicines (CAM)?
Complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) are treatments that fall outside of mainstream healthcare. These medicines and treatments range from acupuncture and homeopathy, to aromatherapy, meditation. Complementary healthcare encompasses a range of therapies that are used alongside conventional medicine which are often used to help support the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms, to ease or alter a patient’s perception of pain, and to support patients through periods of anxiety and fear, associated with their illness.
People with chronic or life-limiting conditions such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, mental health problems (i.e. mild depression and anxiety), weight problems, musculoskeletal problems, can be greatly supported using complementary therapies alongside conventional care.
Complementary therapies can help to empower an individual to manage and cope with their condition and its associated symptoms. Some therapies may also help to prevent conditions or symptoms from escalating. The principal purpose of most complementary therapies is to produce a therapeutic effect additional to that offered by other medical or pharmacological interventions.
As you can see, aromatherapy has been approved and used by the NHS and an increasing number of people now consider using aromatherapy alongside the conventional medical practices which leads us to our very important disclaimer.
Complementary therapies should NEVER be used in place of orthodox medical care or medication. Always consult your doctor for medical care and diagnosis. Always advise your doctor or other healthcare professional (i.e. midwife or GP) if you are receiving complementary therapy healthcare.