Aromatherapy – What Can It Do For Me?

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to promote health and wellbeing and is one of the most common complementary therapies to be offered to patients in breast cancer clinics and hospitals.  There are more than 400 essential oils and these are mode from flowers, fruit, seeds, leaves, roots or bark of certain plants.  Aromatherapists believe that using oils can have health benefits, such as relieving stress.  A small number of these oils, including lavender, rosemary and eucalyptus are used for people with cancer.

Essential oil is thought to work in two ways; you absorb them through the skin into your body tissue and they stimulate your sense of smell to set off a reaction in your body.  There is some evidence that aromatherapy massage can help with side effects, which are due to cancer or its treatments including anxiety, pain, depression, stress and tiredness.  It has also been suggested that breathing in the vapours from certain oils seems to reduce nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  It is always important to consult your doctor id you decide to use essential oils whilst receiving medical treatment or taking prescribed medicines.

When visiting an aromatherapy therapist for the first time, they will ask you a series of general questions about your health, lifestyle and medical history.  They might ask to speak with your GP if they have any concerns.  Used on their own, concentrated essential oils can cause serious skin damage and some cancer treatments can make the skin more sensitive, so it is important to find a qualified aromatherapist who is trained to work on people with cancer.  They will choose the oils which they feel will help you manage your symptoms the most and will dilute them with another oil and gently massage this into the skin.  An aromatherapy massage usually lasts between around an hour and most people leave feeling very relaxed and soothed.

If you decide to use any oils at home, make sure you speak to your therapist beforehand as some oils can cause skin irritation, especially if you are taking cancer drugs or radiotherapy.

Source: Helen Rollason Cancer Charity.