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Evidence for the efficacy of aromatherapy in treating medical conditions is poor, with a particular lack of studies employing rigorous methodology. A number of systematic reviews have studied the clinical effectiveness of aromatherapy in respect to pain management in labor, the treatment of post-operative nausea and vomiting, managing challenging behaviors in people who have dementia, and symptom relief in cancer. However, some studies have come to the conclusion that while it does improve the patient's mood, there is no conclusive evidence on how it works with pain management. Studies have been inconclusive because of the fact that no straightforward evidence exists. All of these reviews report a lack of evidence on the effectiveness of aromatherapy.
It’s important to choose the best essential oil, depending on the health concern or condition that you are trying to remedy. Each essential oil is made up of different compounds and possess different properties, so while some oils are great for relaxing your mind, easing muscle tension and promoting restful sleep, other oils are stimulating, energy boosting and support cognitive function.
Aromatherapy, today, is described by the Federation of Holistic Therapists as the 'systematic use of plant essential oils for therapeutic purposes.’ Essential oils, that are extracted from aromatic plants, have properties which can trigger healing effects in the body. As a complementary therapy, aromatherapy is used to help people restore their health and wellbeing, naturally encouraging the body to heal itself. If you visit an aromatherapist the main treatment will usually comprise of a full body massage, using essential oils diluted in a vegetable base oil. There are also various safe and effective self-care techniques that you can use at home. So, how do you get started?
Hey Karen, There’s so much information on essential oils and much of it comes from MLM companies looking to sell lots of oils (much like Avon). These companies work on a commission basis and encourage reps to push information that’s not always safe or studied. I think much of the information on ingesting oils comes from these companies and sellers. I wouldn’t advise ingesting oils unless under the care of a natural doctor that knows what they are doing. One of the best sources for all-things essential oil safety is this independent site run by a certified aromatherapist: http://www.learningabouteos.com/. Plant Therapy also provides great information on their blog. Hope that helps :).
^ Kuriyama, Hiroko; Watanabe, Satoko; Nakaya, Takaaki; Shigemori, Ichiro; Kita, Masakazu; Yoshida, Noriko; Masaki, Daiki; Tadai, Toshiaki; Ozasa, Kotaro; Fukui, Kenji; Imanishi, Jiro (2005). "Immunological and Psychological Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage". Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2 (2): 179–184. doi:10.1093/ecam/neh087. PMC 1142199. PMID 15937558.
There are also quite a few studies that have found essential oils to be helpful for hair growth. One such study, conducted in 2015, evaluated the efficacy of rosemary oil on patients with androgenetic alopecia, or male or female pattern baldness. Patients were randomly assigned to rosemary oil or minoxidil (a medication commonly used for hair loss) for a six-month treatment period. Researchers found that both groups experienced a significant increase in hair count at the six-month endpoint. They also indicated that scalp itching was more frequent in the minoxidil group. (17)
Some essential massage oils may make their way into the placenta, an organ in your uterus that grows along with your baby and helps to nourish it. It’s not clear if this causes any problems, unless you take toxic amounts, but to be safe, it’s best to avoid certain oils if you’re pregnant. Those include wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop. Ask your doctor if you’re unsure.
The use of essential oils for therapeutic, spiritual, hygienic and ritualistic purposes goes back to ancient civilizations including the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans who used them in cosmetics, perfumes and drugs. Oils were used for aesthetic pleasure and in the beauty industry. It was a luxury item and a means of payment. It was believed the essential oils increased the shelf life of wine and improved the taste of food.