College of DuPage Nursing Student Angela A. Coffie shared with Healthy Lombard that Aromatherapy is slowly becoming quite popular around the world. Aromatherapy originally stemmed from Ancient Egypt since it had different roles from its roles of today. The term “Aromatherapy” was originally identified by a French chemist and perfumer, Rene Maurice Gattefosse in 1937 (FGB Natural Products, 2016)) who accidentally burned his hand from pouring pure lavender oil on it and was then amazed that his scars were no longer visible, and how the pain diminished nearly immediately. This oil was then used during the Second World War and became a huge success (FGB Natural Products,2016).
Essential oils were initially extracted from flowers and used to embalm the dead (IFA, n.d). In Ancient India, these oils were used as an Ayurvedic, that is, to preserve health and wellness by maintaining a body, mind, and soul balance rather than as a cure for the disease (AIA, n.d). In ancient China, oils were used as part of “Traditional Chinese Medicine,” such as acupuncture (IFA, n.d.). In Egypt, India, and China the oils were used for medicinal properties.
What exactly is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a treatment for holistic healing that uses natural plant extracts and/or aromatic essential oils medicinally to promote and improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It also improves both physical and emotional health (Cronkleton, 2019). Although aromatherapy is not a way to cure disease, it has benefits in improving aspects of health; physical or emotional health or both. Aromatherapy has been shown to manage pain, improve sleep, improve digestion, and alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy. It also helps to treat headaches and migraines, reduce stress, agitation, and anxiety and boost immunity. (Cronkleton, 2019). Research demonstrates aromatherapy helps with the symptoms associated with menopause, depression, peripheral neuropathy, and others (Cronkleton, 2019)
Despite the existence of thousands of oils to aid various ailments, several are more commonly used today; Peppermint oil improves symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS); Lavender oil relieves stress; tea tree oil is helpful in treating lice and dandruff; Chamomile reduces anxiety and improves sleep; and Eucalyptus oil aids in coughs and alleviating nasal congestion (Whelan, 2020).
Some essential oils, regardless of their benefits, may not be pure and mixed with other chemicals so may cause adverse effects such as, irritability of the nose or throat, or allergic reactions (Cronkleton, 2019). These effects are not typically found from the use of pure oils. While they are safe, they are still potent so it is important to make sure they are diluted, not consumed and validated with a healthcare provider or veterinarian to ensure they are not contraindicated prior to use (Whelan, 2020). Aromatherapy may not be the main treatment given by a health provider, but they certainly have perks!
Clark, J. E. (n.d.). Aromatherapy. Alliance of International Aromatherapists. https://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/aromatherapy
Cronkleton, E. (2019, March 8). Aromatherapy Uses and Benefits. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-aromatherapy#benefits
International Federation of Aromatherapists. (n.d.) History of Aromatherapy. International Federation of Aromatherapists. https://ifaroma.org/en_GB/home/explore_aromatherapy/about-aromatherapy/history-aromatherapy
FGB Natural Products. (2016). History of Essential Oils. FGB Natural Products. https://www.fgb.com.au/content/history-essential-oils
Petre, A. (2019, November 27). 12 Powerful Ayurvedic Herbs and Spices with Health Benefits. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ayurvedic-herbs
Whelan, C. (2020, February 26). The 10 Best Essential Oils to Try. Healthline . https://www.healthline.com/health/best-essential-oils