Aromatherapy involves the therapeutic use of plant essential oils, which enter the body via our lungs through inhalation, or the skin, if applied in a massage blend or other product.
A recent survey* by the FHT revealed that aromatherapy is one of the top three complementary therapies requested by the public in the UK. This week, as aromatherapists celebrate Aromatherapy Awareness Week (10-16 June 2019), we look at six different ways this therapy can be used to help manage some common complaints that affect our overall health and wellbeing.
1. Sleep aid
Poor sleep affects as many as a third of us and in recent years, it has been linked to various health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and mental health problems. Clary sage and marjoram both have sedative qualities, which can help promote sleep, while lavender, chamomile and neroli are calming and soothing oils, which are great for relieving anxiety, if this is the underlying problem. Where depression is linked to poor sleep, an uplifting oil, like bergamot, could be beneficial.
2. A natural boost
Many of us can be left feeling physically or mentally drained after a particularly busy period or demanding life event. There are lots of essential oils that can give us a much-needed boost including pine, which reduces fatigue, and citrus oils such as orange, lemon and grapefruit, which are all uplifting and can help stimulate the mind and aid concentration. Rosemary and peppermint are said to be excellent for memory and mental performance, while basil can help bring clarity.
3. Skin support
Aromatherapy can help a wide range of skin problems. For mature skin, cicatrisant or ‘skin healing’ essential oils are ideal, as these promote cell regeneration and are good for scars and blemishes. Examples include frankincense, palmarosa, carrot seed, rose, lavender and German chamomile. For best results, these are often added to a carrier oil suited for mature skin, such as rosehip seed oil, which can help reduce wrinkles and fine lines and is particularly good for dry or damaged skin.
4. Soul soother
Left unchecked, stress and anxiety can take a huge toll on our health and wellbeing. Research shows that lavender can help calm the nervous system; lower blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature; and change brain waves to a more relaxed state. Neroli, often referred to as the ‘rescue remedy’ of essential oils, is also great for helping to ease anxiety and stress, along with bergamot, which is traditionally used in Italian folk medicine to relieve tension and anxiety.
5. Menopause ally
While the menopause is a natural stage in life’s journey, many women experience unpleasant symptoms that can affect their overall quality of life. Geranium, clary sage and rose can help balance and regulate the hormones, while other essential oils are useful for addressing more specific issues. For example, cypress and peppermint can alleviate hot flushes and sweating, while oils like grapefruit, neroli, bergamot and jasmine can help to ease feelings of depression.
6. Nausea knock-back
Nausea is an unpleasant symptom that can be triggered by a variety of things including digestive problems, certain medications (eg. anaesthetics), motion sickness, headaches and pregnancy. For digestive-related nausea, fennel seed or lemon essential oil might be useful. Recent studies have also shown that inhaling lavender, ginger, peppermint or rose essential oils can help reduce nausea in patients experiencing nausea and vomiting after surgery.
Important safety notes…
- Aromatherapy should be used alongside standard medical care and not as an alternative.
- If you are currently receiving care from a doctor, consultant, midwife or other health professional, let them know you intend to have aromatherapy treatments / use essential oils.
- Essential oils are very powerful and if used incorrectly, can be detrimental to your health. Never ingest (swallow) essential oils or apply them to the skin neat (undiluted). Various cautions also apply for babies, children, the elderly, during pregnancy, prior to sun exposure, when taking certain medications, and for some medical conditions.
- Seek advice from a professional aromatherapist before using essential oils. To find a registered, qualified and insured aromatherapist you can trust, visit www.fht.org.uk
Downloadable resources for Aromatherapy Awareness week
To help promote aromatherapy this week, FHT members can access downloadable resources, such as leaflets, posters, and social media images and banners, from fht.org.uk/membersarea