Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural oils to enhance psychological and physical well- being. Oils can be extracted from flowers, herbs, stems, roots and barks.
Aromatherapy can be used by two means: inhaling the scent to stimulate brain function or applying to the skin to be absorbed by the bloodstream. Aromatherapy is noninvasive, and can compliment other therapies very well, including western medicine, homeopathy, herbal remedies, and more. Consult your care provider and an aromatherapist near you to see how it may be added to your current routines.
Safe guidelines when using oils include following instructions for each oil, and avoiding oils that contain artificial ingredients. Products may be marked for aromatherapy, but may contain perfume or fragrance instead. These products won’t have the same medicinal properties as pure distilled oils from plant sources. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the term aromatherapy or product labels, so check your sources carefully (Althea p23). Always use a carrier oil such as sweet almond, olive, avocado, or coconut. Essential oils are potent, so a few drops can go a long way.
How to use essential oils:
· Diffusing: suspends the molecules of the oil into the air via a mist, and is an easy and popular way of using aromatherapy. It can put the scent of the oil into the room, without using the chemicals of air fresheners. Follow the manufacturer instructions for your particular diffuser, as well as for each oil or blend. (Althea p. 46-48)
· Direct inhalation: is simply inhaling the oil. The oil can be placed with a carrier in the palm of the hand and cupped over the nose for a few breathes. Hands can also be placed around the bottle as you inhale. A few drops can also be placed on a cotton ball or tissue and sniffed through the day when needed. (This trick is particularly helpful during pregnancy or labor when nausea strikes.) (Althea 46-48)
· Topical: application of essential oils to the skin allows them to enter the blood stream, while also offering inhalation benefits. Oils can be rubbed into the skin with a carrier oil during massage, acupressure, added to baths, and compresses. (Althea p. 53-58)
Essential oils to avoid in pregnancy (These particular oils may stimulate menstruation and hormonal activity) (Best You p.14):
It is generally recommended to use the gentler oils during pregnancy. These include:
· Rose otto
· Black pepper
· Tea tree
· Roman and German chamomile
Aromatherapy can aid several pregnancy related issues including:
Swelling/edema (always get your providers approval)
Some favorite resources for learning more:
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. Valerie Ann Worwood. 2016
Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing. Althea Press. 2015.
Massage and Aromatherapy: Simple Techniques to Use at Home to Relieve Stress, Promote Health, and Feel Great. Best You Readers Digest. 2011.
Have you used aromatherapy during pregnancy? Questions? Comments?