Aromatherapy is the practice of using volatile, aromatic and absolute plant oils in the physical and psychological well-being of people. Though aromatherapy has been prevalent for centuries, it has received great attention in the recent times. Only in the 20th century, the very term aromatherapy was coined by a French chemist. However, in this short time span, aromatherapy has gained enormous reputation as an alternative medicinal system. It has been proven that essential oils benefit people in numerous ways without any disturbing side effects. All popularity apart, the question remains the same: Is aromatherapy worth all the hype it is being given? What is so special about aromatherapy that it gets a lot of press these days? This article is an answer to these questions.
Aromatherapy – Fact, fiction and Limitations: Like with every other system of medicine, there are a lot of myths about aromatherapy. People tend to be carried away by the cures promised by aromatherapists and believe that treatment with essential oils can cure every other disease in the world. This is not true. Aromatherapy is not a cure for every other disease. It can treat only certain ailments and is not a complete alternative to the existing system of medicine.
Below are a list of myths, facts and limitations of aromatherapy as a system of medicine:
1. What is it and what is it not: Aromatherapy is the use of volatile, aromatic essential oils (plant extracts) in the treatment of physical conditions. Owing to the aromatic and healing effects of the oils, aromatherapy helps in the psychological and physiological well being of individuals. Some media reporters, marketing people and vendors claim aromatherapy as a new system of medicine and thus give it a false hype. It is not a complete system of medicine and neither it is new as it has been prevalent right from the times of Egyptian civilization and Ayurvedic medicine.
2. Fragrance oils are not essential oils: Fragrance oils or oils used in perfumes and air fresheners are different from essential oils. Any unnatural product is not part of holistic aromatherapy. But unfortunately several vendors project their medicines as aromatherapeutic cure. Beware of such medicines.
3. Aromatherapy is not a cure for major illnesses: Aromatherapy cannot definitely cure major illnesses like cancer or AIDS. It can neither relieve one from depression or stress completely. However, it can help in alleviating the symptoms of such disorders and help in the treatment process. It can enhance a cancer patient’s quality of life by changing his mood, calming fear and giving temporary pain relief. Similarly, essential oils can improve an AIDS patient’s immune system and thereby, reduce the symptoms. But aromatherapy cannot treat major diseases.
4. Aromatherapy is complementary: Aromatherapy is what is called a complementary, alternative health modality. It cannot replace standard medical care but can only complement it. It can offer alternative choices and help you avoid prescription or over the counter drugs, but it cannot replace standard medical system. It can offer practical cure to a variety of ailments like cuts, wounds, PMS symptoms, bruises, inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, fear, depression, pain, rheumatism, hair loss, acne, skincare, menstrual problems, and so on.
5. Labels on medications: Some marketers use the label “Made with essential oils” even if the medication has other ingredients in it. Since the U.S. does not regulate the use of the word aromatherapy on product labels, many marketers use it to create a false hype. As a buyer, you should know to sieve fact from fiction when it comes to aromatherapy.