You may wonder how inhaling an aroma can help a medical condition. There may be chances that you have used aromatherapy and haven’t realized it. You have used a form of aromatherapy if you have ever used a vaporizer with Vicks or applied Vicks to your chest when having a cold. Both of them contain eucalyptus oil, which is an essential oil.
According to government’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, “Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants (flowers, herbs, or trees) as a complementary health approach”.
Legally, this therapy is used for a lot of health issues. Aromatherapy is used in a lot of ways according to The National Cancer Institute and the University of Maryland Medical center. This therapy can be used for:
- Reducing pain
- Helping to treat insomnia
- Improving quality of life
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Altering moods and emotions
Can aromatherapy help in treating fibromyalgia specifically?
Joie Power, Ph.D., aromatherapy consultant and retired neuropsychologist says, “Essential oils can help fibromyalgia symptoms get eased like a headache, body pain, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness. But these oils are not a magic. In fibromyalgia, as in any chronic condition, they will be most effective when used in conjunction with a consistent program of appropriate dietary and lifestyle measures.”
It is important to know what the risks are and safety information is there before getting started on what can help since these essential oils do have the potential to be misused and harmful.
Some people have to make sure that they clear using any kind of aromatherapy with their doctors such as pregnant women as well as people having high blood pressure, estrogen-dependent tumors, seizures, allergies, asthma and those who are taking any drug treatment.
If we talk about safety, it is important how essential oils are used. It is important for the oils to be diluted when used on the skin and they also need to be inhaled properly. Do not take essential oils by mouth, as this way is used rarely and can be dangerous.
Aromatherapy is used in four main ways according to the National Cancer Institute.
These ways are:
- Direct inhalation (with inhaler having oil drops floating on hot water)
- Indirect inhalation (with a diffuse with oil drops)
- Applied topically after combined in bath salts, lotions or dressings.
- Massage onto the body after essential oil dilutes in carrier oil.
Essential oils can cause some allergic reaction, interactions with drugs, effect on hormones, toxicity, contact dermatitis and sensitivity to sun exposure (phototoxicity) if these are used improperly in any form.
Dr. Power explains, “Every essential oil has different properties from one another so choosing the oil depends on the symptoms you want to deal with. In many cases, helichrysum (Heichrysum italicum), German chamomile (Matricia recutitaaka Matricaria chamonilla), marjoram (Origanum majorana), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) and true lavender have been used for the body pain. All essential oils have more than one type of action, so marjoram and lavender can also help in many cases of insomnia and/or anxiety because, in addition to having pain-relieving properties, they are also calming. Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) has been reported by some people to help relieve fatigue.”
Since this therapy can get quite complicated, a trained aromatherapy professional can help you when you are learning to use it. The beginner can get confused about it, as there is a lot of mixing and combining that you need to go on.
“Essential oils are usually most effective when three or more are combined into a blend”, says Power.
If you need to understand any safety information, the professional can help you know it. There are most essential oils that are very safe to use externally, but there are also a few oils that have some specific limitations on who should use them or how they should be used. For instance, Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) should not be used by any means (topically, internally or by inhalation) by anyone who has a history of seizures or has increased the risk of seizures. Some essential oils should not be used by children, some by people who are using certain medications, some with a few strong skin irritants and so on. But if you are doing it by yourself, Dr. Power says, ““A person who wants to use essential oils in the most effective and safest way possible should start with a good reference manual and spend at least a little time reading up on the properties of essential oils and should know of any safety issues or restrictions that apply to an oil before they use it.”
Aromatherapy’s proper use
Dr. Power explains specifically for treating fibromyalgia how essential oils may or may not help. The responses of people to aromatherapy varies, so some people will find these essential oils helpful in giving relief to symptoms while other people may not. It is important to start with good, therapeutic quality essential oils to get a good result from aromatherapy. So try not to buy the cheap essential oils in order to save money. Be cautious of the cheap essential oils that you often see on mass market web-based selling platforms because most of these products are not even original essential oils. Consider buying essential oils from the company that have a staff of aromatherapy professionals and who lists the company’s own names and key staff along with the detail of their credentials.
If you need help, find an aromatherapist who can help you in selecting essential oils and using them safely. The National Association of Holistic Therapy and Alliance of International Aromatherapists can help you in finding a trained professional near your location.
You have to know how to use the oils, once you get the right ones. Choosing the proper essential oils and using them in the best ways is another factor that helps in determining whether you get the symptoms of relief from these oils or not. For this, you should know about the properties and methods that are recommended to use. For instance, inhalation of lavender can be a good choice for oil and method of use if you want to try the essential oils for sleep. But if you want to help relieve muscle pain with helichrysum, topical application will be more effective. Those people need some time to do some reading is they want to use essential oils to help themselves deal with fibromyalgia since there are some essential oil companies that make unwarranted claims about their products. So, it is not recommended to rely on the information that is given on their websites. Read a good reference book by someone who is well respected and well known in this field. A list of recommended books is provided by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy’s website.
People need to be aware of the fact there is a lot of misinformation and wrong advice out there about essential oils. It is worse to use these oils internally. This is not something that you should do on your own or under the advice of someone who is not a professional and a licensed person in this field since only a physician or nurse practitioner who is trained in using these oils internally should be able to give proper recommendations for using these oils internally. Another worst of the advice is that put these oils directly on your skin without diluting them in some vegetable oil. Doing this practice increases the risks of having a bad skin reaction. So, always dilute essential oils before using them.
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