Aromatherapy before bed – Photo Courtesy: Lauren Friedman
Aromatherapy is an alternative therapy, which uses essential oils, each of which has specific curative qualities. The essential oils help patients to calm down, stimulate the immune system, improve the appetite, and some help in mitigating the pain in stiff joints.
Typically, aromatherapy contains an array of brown bottles containing small quantity of essential oils.
How Old is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy goes back thousands of years. Ancient Indian, Chinese and Egyptian civilizations are known to have used these essential oils from time immemorial and since then the perfume industry has grown steadily.
Ayurveda, the traditional medical system of India, uses aromatic massage as an important aspect of treatment. Ancient Chinese civilizations used many forms of aromatics. Shen Nung’s herbal book has references of over 300 plants and their uses, and his treatise dates back to approximately 2700 BC. The use of aromatics in China is linked to other ancient therapies such as massage and acupressure.
It is said that Cleopatra used aromatherapy to make custom blended perfumes and they were the secrets to her seduction abilities. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist, revived aromatherapy in the 1920’s. He was the first who coined the term ‘aromatherapy’. In the 1980’s, it was the Americans who discovered this fragrant medicine. Today, fragrances and essential oils are used in many cosmetics and household products. Scientific research has been undertaken, and continues to be performed, on aromatherapy that verifies its emotional and physical benefits.
What is the Principle behind Aromatherapy?
The essential oils are extracted from the root, stem, flower or any part of the plant and may treat individual or a string of ailments. The oils are applied by massage, compresses, skin creams, by bathing, sauna, by inhalers in the form of burners, sprays or candles. The principle involved is that these oils can be absorbed in the body through any of the above-mentioned methods and give relief to a wide array of symptoms.
What do you mean Aromatherapy isn’t Good for Some?
Aromatherapy may not suit epileptics, patients with sensitive skins, blood pressure, heart conditions and some cases of renal failure. Many oils are contra-indicated in pregnancy.
What to be Aware of with Essential Oils:
- It is very important that the essential oils do not fall on your eyes.
- Care should be exercised to see that the essential oils are never swallowed.
- The essential oil should not be used in an undiluted state on the skin as it might cause allergic reactions.
- These oils should be kept out of reach of children.
The cost of orthodox medicines is rising, side effects of prescription drugs can be life threatening and fed up with allopathic medicine, more and more people are turning back to nature to seek answers for treatment of illnesses. Aromatherapy is an interesting and intriguing branch of Alternative medicine that is useful in emotional states, headaches and joint problems. Therapies and medicines that were once viewed as alternative have risen from the shadows and are becoming more mainstream. They are now being used alongside conventional medicine.
Dr. Rajesh Vishwanathan, MBBS, became disillusioned with the impersonal and aggressive allopathic system and trained and qualified in Yoga, meditation, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. He dreams of Integrating Allopathic medicine with the Alternative systems of healing.