Aromatherapy Helps Heal Cancer Patients
The below provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. Any treatment protocol should be discussed with a qualified healthcare practitioner ... Please refer to: Medical & Legal Disclaimer.
This page contains information on research I conducted on breast cysts and best homeopathic resources for cancer patients. I am not a medical doctor and any treatment protocol should be discussed with your physician. I would recommend consulting / working with a holistic doctor. Many better treatment protocols nowadays combine traditional medicine with alternative treatments.
Like so many New Age practices and beliefs, aromatherapy has ancient roots. The use of Essential oils to affect mood and well-being can be found far back in Egyptian, Greek and Roman history. In fact, when the three kings of biblical fame brought gifts, including gold, to baby Jesus, their other highly prized offerings were frankincense and myrrh... resins from these herbs are still in use today. While scientific evidence about aromatherapy is scant, its long-standing role in spirituality and healing, along with strong anecdotal support of its benefits, gives Essential oils an important role as a complementary alternative medicine therapy.
Cherie Perez, RN, quality assurance specialist in the department of GU Medical Oncology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, is a strong proponent of aromatherapy, including as an adjunct for cancer treatment. She teaches monthly classes for patients on the topic. I recently asked Perez to tell me about how aromatherapy can be useful for people who are healthy, as well as those with chronic illnesses. Used properly, Perez says Essential oils can indirectly help bolster immune function in cancer patients, strengthening their ability to fight back against the disease by helping to ease pain, depression, sleeplessness and stress. The oils can also help relieve anxiety and improve memory, both frequent problems for people in cancer treatment. Furthermore, aromatherapy offers patients an opportunity to take time for themselves and enjoy a mental and emotional break from their world of medicines and doctors.
ESSENTIALS ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS
These Essential oils have various scents such as floral, minty, citrus and masculine -- and Perez advises using the ones you like best among the choices indicated for a specific treatment, since more than one oil may address the same problem. She explains that the limbic system, which the sense of smell triggers, is the emotional seat of the brain, which is the reason why people often respond strongly to certain scents -- positively or negatively. Lavender, for example, might bring back warm memories of a trip to Provence, or sour thoughts about a dour relative who wore it as a fragrance.
- There are lots of options to disperse the scents of the essential oils. Please visit this website for options.
MENU OF OPTIONS
Here's a list of popular oils that address some common problems, as well as those common among people in treatment for cancer...
- Lavender. Great as a general relaxant, it also treats migraines and relieves stress. It is excellent for insomnia resulting from cancer treatment.
- Rosemary. For muscle pain, low blood pressure (do not use if you have uncontrolled or high blood pressure) and cold feet and hands. Rosemary aids a loss of appetite.
- Spearmint. Used to ease nausea and to help digestion. Also can help ease gas and other treatment-related digestive problems.
- Eucalyptus or peppermint. For rubbing on sore muscles. Eucalyptus may also help joints, including arthritic ones. Eucalyptus may increase the absorption of certain cancer drugs that are applied topically, so use caution and try a patch test first, avoiding application to the same area as the cancer drug.
- Pink grapefruit or juniper berry. Used with massage to encourage lymphatic drainage of toxins and waste. Pink grapefruit is one of Perez's favorites for cancer patients, as she believes it helps energize them and raise their spirits. This and all citrus-type oils should be avoided during chemo and radiation -- and should not be used until speaking with your doctor.
- Lemongrass, tea tree and orange. Mix together into two cups of Epso salts. Use five drops of each oil -- a total of 15 drops -- for a soothing bath (use one-half cup per bath). (Please note: Serious toxicity in avians can occur from topical exposure to teatree [melaleuca] oil.) *Please note that tea tree oil is toxic to all pets (birds, cats, dogs, etc.)
Aromatherapy has become so popular that Essential oils are now widely available, including in health food stores and supermarkets. However, Perez advises that it is far better to purchase them from a shop with a staff knowledgeable in aromatherapy. Oils should come in dark blue or brown glass containers, which prevent light or heat damage. Avoid bottles with rubber droppers -- the rubber breaks down and contaminates the oil. Finally, the label should feature both the common and the botanical name of the oil (for example, Peppermint/Mentha piperita).
If you would like to learn more about how to incorporate aromatherapy in your life, Perez recommends The Complete Book of Essential oils & Aromatherapy (featured to the right - and available by clicking on the link) by Valerie Ann Worwood (New World Library), which she says is both thorough and easily understood. Again, as in the case with skin sensitivities, people with asthma or allergies need to avoid things that might trigger an attack -- for example, chamomile is in the ragweed family.
- Safe, non-toxic products that will help you protect youself, your family and pets from allergens
- Arnica - to relieve soreness and swelling following an injury or surgery.
People who want to try inhalation aromatherapy should use only a few drops (two to three) of Essential oils in a basin of water or diffuser, or on a napkin. And -- always consult with your doctor before using aromatherapy or any complementary therapy.
Cherie Perez, RN, quality assurance specialist in the department of GU Medical Oncology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
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