The National Library of Medicine online defines alternative medicine as “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.”
Everyone uses alternative medicine, even unknowingly. Spiking tea with Echinacea, getting out the heating pad and even eating chicken soup can be considered alternative medicine. Even if these “remedies” are not proven to cure people, eating chicken soup simply makes you feel good.
One form of alternative medicine not so common is aromatherapy.
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy’s website: “Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of the body, mind, and spirit. Since the beginning of aromatherapy, the practice has encompassed human pathology and the treatment of different conditions with essential oils,”
The Egyptians first used aromatherapy to embalm their dead with oils of cedar wood, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and myrrh. They also used scented wood to burn incense to honor their gods as well as started to use aromatics for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. In 1940, Madame Marguerite Maury started prescribing the use of aromatherapy to her patients with long-term illness or chronic pains, thus, ushering in the holistic approach to aromatherapy that is used today.
Because there is a strong link between what people smell and the way they feel, essential oils are used to send signals to the brain to trigger responding moods in people.
“The essential oils create a response in the primitive part of the brain from the olfactory nerve,” Aaron Stuttman, a massage therapist at Aaron’s Zen-Tastic Massage in East Lansing, said. “Aromatherapy is used as an alternative medicine because the ions in essential oils are very oxidative and provide oxygen to the body.”
For example, lavender essential oil and roman chamomile both help people relax, while rosemary and lemon essential oils can be stimulating and uplifting. Ylang-ylang and clary sage are useful in treating muscle aches and headaches. Try rubbing peppermint oil on your temples to ease a headache.
“All my clients really enjoy the aromatherapy when they come to get a massage,” says Ashley Ridella, a massage therapist who works from her home in Waterford, Mich.
Essential oils can be diluted and applied directly to the wrist or bottoms of feet and are absorbed immediately into the blood stream. Scented body lotions or perfumes can have the same effect. Even something as simple as burning a candle that smells like rosemary can stimulate the mind when studying.
So during finals week, when students are going crazy out of their minds studying and worrying, think of giving aromatherapy a try. It is inexpensive and anyone can find an incence burner, a scented candle or essential oil. Make like the hippies, and if it feels good, do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *