Aromatherapy refers to treatment using aromas or scents. It involves the use of essential oils from plants to facilitate healing or to treat disease. Aromatherapy works by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which send messages to the part of the brain that controls emotions and influences mental and physical health.
Your doctor starts the session by reviewing your medical history and asking about your symptoms. The doctor can then instruct you to breathe in essential oils either directly or indirectly through vaporizers, sprays or steam inhalations. He or she can also massage the oils into your skin or tell you how to use aromatherapy at home, by mixing it into bathwater.
Aromatherapy has various health benefits which include:
- Relieving anxiety and stress and promoting a sense of relaxation
- Relieving pain and depression
- Improving quality of life for people who have chronic health conditions
- Treating alopecia areata (hair loss)
- Treatment of constipation and insomnia
- Treating burns, infections and high blood pressure.
Aromatherapy is also used for a variety of other conditions including menstrual pain, respiratory problems and tension headaches.
However, just like all other therapies, aromatherapy when applied to the skin may show some side effects which may include allergic reactions, skin irritation and sun sensitivity. People with a history of allergies or with severe asthma, pregnant women and children below age five years of age are advised not to use aromatherapy or to use it under the guidance of a health care professional.