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Aromatherapy

What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy uses concentrated oils. These are oils made from the flowers, fruit, seeds, leaves, root or bark of plants. They are called essential oils. There are more than 400 essential oils. Manufacturers use the oils in perfumes or cosmetics. People who use aromatherapy believe some oils have beneficial properties. Aromatherapists use a small number of these oils for people with cancer.

The belief is that aromatherapy can:
  • boost wellbeing
  • relieve stress
  • help to refresh your body
  • Some of the most popular oils are:
  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • eucalyptus
  • camomile
  • peppermint
  • ylang ylang
  • marjoram
  • jasmine
  • lemon
  • geranium

The theory behind aromatherapy is that each essential oil has properties that give health benefits.

Some essential oils are thought to:
  • have an anti-inflammatory effect which may help with arthritis and muscular pain
  • help to fight off infection
  • help with sleeping problems and lessen anxiety
  • change your heart or breathing rate or make you feel calm or excited
  • Aromatherapists believe that essential oil works in two ways:
  • you absorb them through the skin into your body tissues
  • they stimulate your sense of smell to set off a reaction in your body

There has been some research looking into these claims. Aromatherapists believe that essential oils work because of chemicals in the oil. These bind with receptors in the part of the brain that has to do with smell (olfactory bulb). This affects the emotional centre of the brain (limbic system).

So, any helpful effects are likely to come from the smell and absorption of the oils. They also work on your mind and spirit. We need more research to be sure. It is important not to use oils instead of visiting your GP or taking prescribed medicines.

Why is aromatherapy is beneficial
Aromatherapy carries out a lot of benefits it makes clients feel good. Many clients says that it can help lift their mood and improve their wellbeing. It helps them feel like they are helping themselves. There is some evidence that aromatherapy massage can help with the effects of treatment.

These include:
  • anxiety
  • pain
  • depression
  • stress
  • tiredness

Aromatherapists believe that inhaling certain essential oils can help with nausea and vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are often side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But these claims are not supported by research. 

How you have it
There are different ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy. You can apply the oil to your skin or inhale it. Find a qualified aromatherapist who is trained to work with people with cancer.

The aromatherapist will ask you general questions about your health, lifestyle and medical history. They might ask to speak with your GP if they have any concerns.

They will choose the oils which they feel will help you manage your symptoms the most. They might also encourage you to help choose the oils.

Aromatherapy massage
Used on its own, concentrated essential oils can cause severe skin damage. Some cancer treatments can make the skin more sensitive. Your therapist will dilute the essential oils. Once mixed with another oil, they massage this into your skin. They might play some relaxing music.

An aromatherapy massage usually lasts between 60 to 90 minutes. You can ask for a shorter session if you feel this is too long. Tell the therapist if you feel uncomfortable at any time or want them to stop. But most people say that an aromatherapy massage is relaxing and soothing.

Using essential oils yourself at home
Speak to a qualified aromatherapist before using any oils at home. Some oils can cause skin irritation. Irritation can be worse if you are having cancer drugs or radiotherapy.

Some people add a few drops of specific essential oils to:
  • water in an oil burner to enjoy the pleasant and relaxing smells
  • a handkerchief or boiling water to help relieve breathing problems and a blocked nose
  • a warm bath to help with anxiety or sleeping problems
  • face and body oils
  • creams and lotions

Beauty products
Manufacturers sometimes promote beauty products as aromatherapy products. They might be:
-soaps
-hair care products

Scents are often man-made (synthetic) if the product label doesn't mention essential oils. This means that they won’t give you any real aromatherapy benefits.

However, don’t add essential oils to any beauty products yourself. Get advice first from a qualified aromatherapist.

Aroma sticks
Aroma sticks are similar in design to nasal inhalers for cold relief. You hold the aroma stick under your nose and breathe in the aroma from the oils.

An aromatherapist adds essential oils chosen especially for you. Or, you can get empty aroma sticks and add your favourite oils yourself.

Side effects
Essential oils are generally safe if you use them in the right way.

Some oils can cause the following:
a skin reaction or allergic reaction
some oils may make the skin more sensitive to sunlight if applied before sun exposure
the smell of certain oils might remind you of something unpleasant, and you might dislike it
Always get advice from a qualified aromatherapist before using any type of aromatherapy.

Summary
Aromatherapy uses essential oils to treat symptoms of cancer and its treatment.
It might help for some side effects of cancer treatment, but more research is needed.
Some people can have side effects.

How much it costs
60 min session costs £65

 

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