For centuries, plants and their oils have been used in a variety of therapeutic settings. Today aromatherapy is a billion dollar industry. Here are your questions answered:
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants to treat an ailment. Oils are extracted from plants through a variety of different methods and then formulated to be used topically or breathed in as an aerosol.
What are the benefits of aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy has been used to treat a variety of conditions including:
- GI upset
- joint aches
- skin infections
to name a few.
In 2014 Azanchi et al described the anticonvulsant activity of neroli oil, finding its biologically active “constituents” may assist in the management of seizures.
The following is a table from Natural Healers describing some uses of essential oils.
What are the risks of aromatherapy?
Many oils may be used alone or mixed with fragrances and/or other chemicals. These many times have not be tested clinically to see their effects on the respiratory tree lining and skin. Some risks posed by the use of aromatherapy include:
- Respiratory issues – could irritate the lung lining causing cough, wheezing, mucous production
- Dermatitis – rashes, hives, itching
- Photosensitivity – use could make one more susceptible to skin reactions when exposed to the sun, causing burning and blistering.
- Interactions with medications, possibly affecting their potency
- Risks to pets ingesting them or absorbing too much in their skin
Who should avoid aromatherapy?
At this time, we recommend avoiding aromatherapy if you have any acute or chronic respiratory conditions, severe allergies, sensitive skin, are pregnant, or are currently taking any medications that could interact with the chemicals being inhaled or absorbed.
If considering using aromatherapy we recommend consulting your medical provider first.
As we see more practitioners integrate aromatherapy into one’s medical plan, more needs to be clinically studied to determine the benefits and risks.