Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough -As spas and wellness centers are attracting more self-care seeking customers, aromatherapy has been added to the list of services more widely available. This involves the use of natural oils that come from either flowers, leaves, bark, or roots. A holistic approach is being taken to promote well-being and health. The body, mind, and spirt are all considered. Places such as China, India, and Egypt have used this practice for thousands of years. These places have incorporated aroma therapy into both medical and religious purposes with various balms, oils, and resins. The Persians in the 10th century were also distilling oils. French physicians in the 19th century started to use oils to treat diseases. It was actually the French perfumer and chemist named, René-Maurice Gattefossé, who created the term “aromatherapy”, specifically because he wrote a book and discussed how lavender can treat burns.
Aromatherapy entails skin absorption and smelling the natural oils which can be done several different ways. Options include bath salts, facial steamers, diffusers, body oils and/or creams, spritzers, compresses hot or cold, and inhalers. The benefits of aromatherapy vary person to person but there are many pluses it is said to do which include improve sleep, sooth sore joints, pain management, reduce stress and/or anxiety, help digestion, boost immunity, and to treat migraines/headaches. There is not scientific research to back these benefits, but other claims include treating conditions such as depression, inflammation, insomnia, arthritis, menopause, alopecia, menstrual issues, and fatigue.
There are many types of oils to choose from. The most popular include eucalyptus, cypress, ginger, lavender, lemon, lemon oil, peppermint, rose, rosemary, tea tree, fennel, and geranium. Which combination or selection would be based upon your consultation with the aromatherapist. There aren’t many side effects other than possible allergic reactions or possibly from interaction with medications you might be taking. Rashes, headaches, or nausea are risks. Having skin conditions like eczema could also be irritated by the oils. Normal cost is around $100 or more for services. The takeaway would be that if you’re looking for a holistic approach to mind ,body, and spirit, aromatherapy could be a natural way to explore doing so.