Aromatherapy is today a renowned method of alternate medicine. How effective is it in actuality? Who use this method? and who benefits from it. Here is a bit of information on how widespread Aromatherapy really is.
Widely practiced in Europe and the UK, aromatherapy is also finding converts in Australia, Canada, the USA and Japan. A decade ago, you could hardly come across an English book on the subject, or find it mentioned in the periodicals. Today, the western media pans in on any new development or research in the field. Entire journals are now devoted to the subject, what with researchers, industries, medical practitioners, alternative health therapists, and amateurs jumping on to the aromatherapy bandwagon. In India, many homes unaware of the fashionable term ‘aromatherapy’, have nonetheless a tradition of using essential oils.
Take eucalyptus oil: in south India, a drop or two is commonly added to the bathwater of babies or put on their bed linen to prevent coughs or bronchial problems. Traditional perfume concentrates like ittars and commonly-used incense sticks also make use of essential oils. Further, the close link between aromatherapy and ayurveda is part of our living culture. But urban India, with its looser links with heritage, remains largely ignorant of the uses of these oils.
Now, with the resurgence of New Age therapies and the urgent need to take individual responsibility for health, aromatherapy is slowly gaining ground here. Talking to some aromatherapists, the first impression one gets about this system is that whether it is used for cosmetic purposes or as a natural holistic health remedy, there can be no sharp or dividing lines in its practice. Even as you are being treated for specific physical or psychological problems through other modes, therapists believes that the essential oils can supplement the treatment, intelligently balancing and harmonizing your physical, emotional mental and spiritual nature, leading to overall well-being.
Delhi-based aromatherapist Sunita Agarwal, who has an MD, talks with palpable excitement about the therapy and how she discovered it. What began as a home remedy for her perpetually sniffling toddler soon spread to her circle of friends, and finally crept into her regular practice as a successful add-on relief measure for children who visited her clinic, with even chronic cases responding well to aromatherapy. “I would treat the children for respiratory problems, accompanying coughs, colds and sore throats. But because of urban pollution, these problems would keep recurring. How often can one prescribe antibiotics?” she wondered.
With a steady stream of patients walking into her clinic asking for treatment with aromatic oils, she gravitated full-time into the study, research and practice of aromatherapy. Typically, a consultation with her entails a detailed medical history, queries about diet and lifestyle. Then, she blends the required essential oils in a carrier oil for massage. You are asked to sniff the oil blend to ensure that you like the fragrance, your body’s signals being an important guide to the correct choice. If massage oils are given for home use, basic massage techniques are demonstrated. Supplementary essential oils for inhalation and baths may be included.
Agarwal’s patients include women with postpartum blues, lower-back aches, cosmetic queries, gynecological problems, and the middle-aged and elderly coming with stress related problems, insomnia, spondylitis and arthritis. There are hundreds of essential oils available but aromatherapists generally use only 30 to 40. Agarwal, who avoids using very expensive essential oils, would ideally like to import all essential oils, but the costs are prohibitive. So she largely relies on indigenous products. A trained nose, she says, is the best guide to detect purity. Essential oils, she elaborates, are chemically complex and very versatile.
Juniper oil, for instance, can be used to treat skin problems, dandruff, diarrhea or joint pain. The natural plant essences with their hormone-like properties and vitamins, minerals, and natural antiseptics, are easily absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin or nose. Different fragrances, with varied vital electromagnetic properties and vibrational energies, serve to stimulate our immune system, circulatory system and neurological functions.
- Aromatherapy : Identify your essential oil with Ayurveda
- Aromatherapy – The basics
- Aromatherapy – Practice and principles