Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil Therapy, is the use of essential oils extracted from herbs, flowers, resin, woods and roots through steam distillation or cold pressing to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of the body, mind and spirit. Aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years. The Greeks, Romans and ancient Egyptians all used aromatherapy oils. The Egyptian physician, Imhotep (first physician known by name in written history) recommended fragrant oils for bathing, massage and for embalming their dead. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used aromatherapy for baths and massage.
Archaeological evidence of aromatherapy has been found in many ancient civilizations including China, India, Japan, Korea, Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. They were also used in cosmetics, perfumes, drugs and for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes.
A French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, discovered the healing properties of lavender oil when he applied it to a burn on his hand caused by an explosion in his laboratory. He then started to analyze the chemical properties of essential oils and how they were used to treat burns, skin infections, gangrene, and wounds in soldiers during World War I. In 1928, Rene-Maurice founded the science of aromatherapy and wrote a book “Aromatherapie.” By the 1950s massage therapists, beauticians, nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, and other health care providers began using aromatherapy.
The aromatherapy essential oils are used extensively for many health issues and are being explored more and more by the scientific community for the treatment of a number of diseases such as leukemia, asthma, heart conditions, cancer and many more conditions. Aromatherapy essential oils are volatilized or diluted in a carrier oil and used in massage, diffused in the air by a nebulizer, heated over a candle flame, or burned as incense.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is particularly suited to stress-related conditions or conditions with an emotional component such as depression
Stimulates the immune system
Reduces fluid retention
Restores balance in the body
Increases blood circulation
Increases energy levels
Promotes healing and recovery
Eases digestive issues
Now, let’s review a recent study on how beneficial aromatherapy was with alleviating pain and depression. Pain and depression are common in arthritis patients which can significantly affect quality of life. As these are both highly prevalent, the issue of a possible more natural treatment without any side effects would truly be a step up in the medical field.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of aromatherapy on pain, depression, and feelings of satisfaction in life of arthritis patients.
The sample consisted of 40 patients, enrolled in the Rheumatics Center, Kangnam St. Mary’s Hospital, South Korea. The aromatherapy essential oils used were lavender, marjoram, eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint blended in proportions of 2:1:2:1:1. Then mixing essential oils with a carrier oil composed of almond (45%), apricot (45%), and jojoba oil (10%) and they were diluted to 1.5% after blending.
The results were aromatherapy significantly decreased both the pain score and the depression score of the experimental group compared with the control group suggesting aromatherapy could most certainly be useful in helping patients suffering with arthritis.