The Nose Knows (Part 1)

This week I stumbled upon the use of natural healing with aromatherapy. Whilst the word “aromatherapy” was not coined until the 1920’s, the practice has been used for thousands of years. Throughout history many different cultures have recognized the use of plants as natural healing ingredients. Imhotep, the Egyptian god of medicine and healing, recommended the use of fragrant oils for bathing, massage, and for embalming their dead nearly 6000 years ago. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used aromatherapy baths and scented massage. Today, aromatherapy is a very active movement in Europe, especially in France where it is now a recognized medicine reimbursed by medical insurance.

Many of us are eager to try out the latest medication or the latest therapy to aid us in managing our disability/illness. But what I learned this week was that whilst we have been using all our other senses to promote healing i.e. massage and music therapy, the majority of us have been overlooking our olfactory senses. I have always been somewhat dubious about trying aromatherapy over the years thinking it could not possibly be powerful enough to naturally aid any serious illness, let alone a cough or a cold, but I am quite pleased to be proven wrong. Due to my ignorance in this area, I had no idea how aromatherapy worked, except for dropping some lavender oil in the bath. I found out that while the practice of aromatherapy is
sometimes thought to be confined to inhalation, it can also include:

  • Absorption through the skin (baths, massages, compresses)
  • Absorption through the mucous membranes (oral rinses and gargles)
  • Ingestion (occasionally prescribed, with caveats)

I have since purchased 2 books on the uses and applications of aromatherapy as a natural healing agent which I will use to concoct ‘brews and potions’ (minus the puppy dog tails and eye of newt) and shall be using myself as a guinea pig. I am also going to receive further instruction from a medical professional in the art of aromatherapy.

My first treatment of aromatherapy is going to have a trial by fire. I suffer from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and as such have a very weak immune system. This causes me to be extremely susceptible to viruses. In 4 weeks I am to go on my first holiday in 2 years. It has been too dangerous for me to risk being in a confined place for a lengthy period of time with a large group of people but life is meant to be lived. My consultant gave me a bottle of Melaleuca Alternifolia (aka Tea Tree) to use whilst on the plane to ward off any lurking lurgy. I am to put a drop of oil onto a tissue and smell it from time to time. Melaleuca, along with Eucalyptus, is reputed to be world’s only plants that can stop a virus in its track. I am about to find out if that is true. Wish me luck!
As my knowledge and personal experience increases by studying aromatherapy, I will discuss further how it works and how it can benefit people with a range of disabilities and illnesses in layman’s terms.
By Courtney Seen.

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