Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine in which scented oils are used for therapeutic purposes to help relieve stress and tension. Many people swear by the healing benefits of aromatherapy, but there is not much clinical evidence proving its effectiveness. Be aware of the potential advantages and downsides of aromatherapy before you try it.
Ease of Use
Beginning aromatherapy can be very easy and fairly inexpensive. One method of aromatherapy is simply using candles or diffusers to release soothing scents into the air. Little to no equipment is necessary with this form. About the only equipment you may need--and it is not a requirement--is a diffuser. These can be electric, heat or clay pots and require little to no experience to use.
Emotional and Physical Benefits
Aromatherapy has been used to treat a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, headaches, fatigue, allergies and arthritis. Though much of the belief in aromatherapy's advantages is based on anecdotal evidence, aromatherapy is garnering more interest from the medical community as an effective, safe treatment option. The Mayo Clinic recommends the use of some types of aromatherapy for patients going through cancer treatments to deal with nausea, pain and stress.
Some Can Be Toxic
While there are few drawbacks to aromatherapy, there are some that could be very dangerous. In some aromatherapy cases, oils are used and rubbed onto the skin. These oils have chemical properties that can enter the bloodstream, and for some patients they may be very dangerous when used with certain cancer therapies such as chemotherapy or radiation. Also, people with high blood pressure or diabetes or who are pregnant should avoid certain oils. You should consult with your doctor if you have any serious medical conditions before starting any type of aromatherapy.
Some people may be allergic, or have sensitivities, to certain smells or oils used in aromatherapy. If you have any concerns that you may be allergic or sensitive, you will want to start off very slowly and for short periods of time. If you do not have any negative reactions, you can then increase the therapy's intensity.