The Power of Aromatherapy
By Robin Westen
It’s the sweet smell of success for champions of aromatherapy. A growing body of evidence is pointing to the positive effect of essential oils, derived from plant leaves, in treating a wide variety of illnesses from easing tensions and healing wounds, to revitalizing the skin and spirit. Here’s a roundup of the most popular scents:
Tea Tree Oil
This oil is reported to make white blood cells more active, thereby boosting the immune system. It’s widely recognized as a powerful tool against a variety of harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, molds and parasites.
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Lavender Studies show inhaling lavender oil is more effective than a placebo for insomnia. For best results, use topically or add 10 drops to bathwater. Sheets washed in water containing lavender oil may also promote sleep. Although nontoxic, the scent may trigger nausea if too much is used.
Eucalyptus This herb’s aroma is the key ingredient in Vicks VapoRub and not surprisingly is a treatment for respiratory complaints. Need we say more?
Peppermint This oil has been shown to relieve pain when applied externally to sore muscles. It may also fight fever and help to ease headaches and respiratory infections. Use only a small amount of oil topically or in bathwater. CAUTION: Keep eyes closed when inhaling its scent and wash hands thoroughly after use as the oil can also be an irritant.
Camomile Mostly known for its calming effects as a tea, it’s also believed to reduce inflammation and fight skin infections. Use topically or add 6–10 drops to running bathwater.
Ginger Noted for its warming and decongestant properties, ginger also helps fight off colds and flu and reduces fever by inducing perspiration. For best results mix the powder with olive oil and massage into the chest and inhale. Or you can add 6 drops to running bathwater. Make sure to dilute it to avoid skin irritation.
As always, please check with your doctor before beginning any aromatherapy or herb-related program.
To comment, click here. About the Author
Robin Westen is ThirdAge's Medical Director. Check for her daily updates. Her latest book, co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V is for Vagina."