Aromatherapy Awareness Week is an annual national campaign hosted by the International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA) to raise awareness of the clinical benefits of aromatherapy. Held in the second week of June, it seeks to educate the public about the difference aromatherapy can make to your life and the lives of people in your care.
The therapeutic benefits of essential oils have been known since ancient times and have been successfully used by medical practitioners in other European countries since the early 20th Century. Since 1985 the IFA has been heavily involved in research in the UK and there is now a strong body of evidence which supports the therapeutic benefits of clinical aromatherapy with a variety of conditions. Over the last thirty years, the IFA has pioneered aromatherapy in the NHS, hospices and hospitals and is the reason why many therapists are working in collaboration with the medical profession today.
Aromatherapy is a combination of two words “aroma” which means smell or fragrance, and ‘therapy” which means a treatment for the body, mind, or social condition of a person, to assist a process where healing and change can take place.
“Aromatherapy is effective because it works directly on the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center,” Mehmet Oz, MD, professor of surgery at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City stated. “This has important consequences because the thinking part of the brain can’t inhibit the effects of the scent, meaning you feel them instantaneously”.
It is a method of healing using very concentrated essential oils that are often highly aromatic and are extracted from plants. Alan Hirsch, MD, neurologist at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, believes you don’t have to limit yourself to essential oils. Limiting the length of your exposure to certain scents, however, will ensure they remain effective. “Short-term exposure is key because people stop responding to scents after a few minutes.”
On a personal note, Aromatherapy was the first type of alternative therapy that I had after my second surgery. The hospital I was staying in employed a lady who gave the treatment either while you were in hospital or you could have private treatment. She definitely had healing hands as far as I was concerned and, although I am quite sure some of the relief was placebo-effect, I still had regular treatments with her for a short pain-free time.