Identify an area of holistic health practice that is of interest to you and write a report examining the selected practice and the means by which it contributes to health and wellbeing.
You are required to produce a report that:
- Includes a brief definition and overview of the term “holistic health”.
- Introduces your selected topic and provides a clear rationale of why you have chosen the topic.
- Succinctly examines the historical roots, development, and contemporary use of the selected practice, and clearly identifies its positioning within current health care provision.
- Carefully examines how the selected practice contributes to health and wellbeing.
- Identify and discuss relevant research material to support your discussion
- Conclude with an appropriate summary of your findings.
What is Holistic Health?
The word Holistic stands for complete or whole. But when we use the term holistic health there is no universal definition. One of the definition is an integrated approach which considers spiritual, mental and physical aspect of life and take them as connected and balanced (Aldridge, 2002).. The concept of holistic health is not new or not a new model. Hippocrates was both a practitioner and a philosopher who said that “it is important to close the gap between the disease itself and its treatment”. He also added that human body has the ability to heal itself even without the intervention of any specialist or doctor. There are numerous factors that are lying outside the physical needs of our human body but still play a crucial role in deciding the quality of our life. Therefore the term “Holistic care” takes into account these factors and considers them significant in determining the quality of life.
Aromatherapy is one such holistic therapy that is used widely in the healing process. Aromatherapy is one of the most popular complementary therapies that offer treatments for chronic diseases. Whether it be irritable bowel syndrome, backache and headaches are numerous times caused by stress. This therapy uses essential oils and therefore it is also referred as “Essential Oil Therapy”. Essential oils are from plants taken from their seeds, blossoms, roots and leaves. It is defined as the science and art of utilizing aromatic oils from plants to harmonize, promote and balance the spirit, body and mind. This therapy unifies the spiritual, physiological, and psychological process to help in an individual healing process (Ericksen, 2000). These oils are used in mixture that promote physical healing for example some oils are used to treat fungal infections and swelling. Some others are used for emotional healing that by providing a relaxation feeling through pleasant smell. For example orange blossom oil that is known for its calming property. Essential oils or aromatherapy has been used by Romans, Indians, Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks for over 6000 years. These oils were used for spiritual, hygienic, ritualistic and therapeutic purposes. It was the French chemist and perfumer Rene-Maurice Gattefosse who in 1937 gave the term “Aromatherapie” as he wanted to distinguish the medicinal uses of these oils other than their perfumery applications. His first brush with the medicinal uses of oils came when he burned himself in a laboratory explosion and used lavender oil to treat the burn. After that he concentrated on analyzing the chemical properties of these oils to treat skin infections, wounds, burns, and gangrene in wounded soldiers in World War I. It was by the 1950’s that healthcare providers, doctors, nurses, beauticians, massage therapists and physiotherapists started using aromatherapy. The belief for the aromatherapy use is that it helps in relieving stress, refreshing body and boosting wellbeing. (Johnson et al., 2017)
The History and Definition of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy uses the properties of different oils like chamomile, lavender, geranium, rosemary, eucalyptus, ylang ylang, lemon, peppermint, jasmine, and marjoram. These oils are absorbed in the skin through the body tissues. That stimulates the reaction in the body through the sense of smell. Many researchers and experts still say they are not clear how aromatherapy works. But they believe the sense of smell has a key part to play. The receptors in the brain that are related to “smell” that communicate with other parts of the brain. These parts are usually hippocampus and the amygdala that are storehouses of memories and emotions. When a person breathes in these essential oils these molecules stimulate the brain and influences the mental, emotional and physical health of a person. One such example is, of lavender oil that stimulates the brain cells in the amygdala region of the brain and works as a sedative. Many researchers believe that essential oils interact with the enzymes and hormones in the blood. Some of these oils have anti-inflammatory ability and help with the muscular pain and arthritis. Other uses are fighting infection, lessen anxiety and fighting insomnia (Karadag et al., 2015). Aromatherapy is used for many settings like hospitals, and health spas to relieve pain, promote relaxation and improving mood. Oil like orange, sandalwood, lavender and rose are shown to relieve stress, depression and anxiety. An crucial element of aromatherapy is called “synergy” which refers to the combination of different oils to create a powerful effect. These oils are absorbed in the body through skin for example it is seen that lavender oil is absorbed in the body in 20 minutes (Mansour, 2016). These oils have an advantage against the microorganisms present in the body as these oils are excreted rapidly through the body. This prevents the microorganisms from building any kind of resistance against these oils. Aromatherapy is used to sore cramps, infections, headaches, abrasions, cuts and arthritis (Loughran, & Bull, 2000) . These oils increase the blood circulation, reduce sinus infection and lung infection, and also improve the immune system. The most common and safest way to use essential oil is by inhalation through the mouth and nose. This systematic absorption through the lungs and nasal mucosa relief the upper respiratory congestion and also reduces stress. When these oils are inhaled the relax, stimulate the mood and emotions. But not all oils can be inhaled therefore self-usage is discouraged. (Alexander, 2002).
How Aromatherapy Works
Skin application is another way that these oils are used for treating localized conditions with muscles and organs. Special care has to be taken while using these oils on skin as they can cause contact dermatitis and have the power to burn in used in undiluted concentration (Posadzki, & Ernst, 2013). While using it on skin these essential oils should first be diluted in a carrier oil such as jojoba oil, aloe gel, or lotion or cream. Professional massage therapists, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists are using aromatherapy in a wide range of settings such as hospitals and health spas. Massage therapy has been proven to benefit people who are suffering from depression and cancer. Studies like the one conducted by Chen et al., in the year 2015 under the title “ Effects of Lavender tea on fatigue, depression and maternal infant attachment ” showed that inhalation of lavender oil in aromatherapy had a hypnotic effect which enhances the positive feelings of new mothers and also acted as a mood stabilizer for them towards their babies. (Chen, & Chen, 2015).
The reason that aromatherapy is widely successful since its introduction in the medicinal world is due to the fact that, it is holistic approach. It takes into account the individuals medical history, general health, lifestyle and emotional condition before providing a plan or course of treatment. Through this therapy the whole individual is treated and not just the symptoms of the disease. This practice is a direct opposite to the modern belief and trend of the medicinal world as these days the pressure is more on the treatment of the symptoms of the disease. This therapy also believes that numerous modern diseases are caused due to stress(Edris, 2007).. Through aromatherapy we can combat stress without the use of addictive drugs that are highly damaging in the long run. Our body works in a miraculous way each day in our daily life. Stress and fatigue only increases the chances of injury. These oils help in stress reduction by reaching the part of the brain that controls the feeling of relaxation through stimulation through smell. These oils are used by midwives to promote a sense of wellbeing in pregnant women. It gives them a feeling of positivity by fighting fear and anxiety. These women require less medications while delivery and labor as they are more relaxed. Peppermint oil is believed to help in relieving vomiting and nausea. (Zorba, & Ozdemir, 2017), (Eads, 2008).
The Benefits of Aromatherapy
Numerous oils have shown antibacterial and antifungal properties that help in strengthening the immune system (Safi, & Al-Mariri, 2014). Oils like sage, fennel, clary sage and aniseed have shown to contain estrogen like chemical compounds that relieve symptoms of menopause and premenstrual symptoms. These oils benefit us through crossing the “blood-brain” barrier and reaching the deepest parts of the brain that control emotions. This is supported by a research done by Cornell University that showed that amygdala the part of the brain responsible for memories and emotions is only stimulated by the sense of smell (Koo, 2017). This part is responsible in releasing and storing the emotional responses and trauma. Therefore when the aromatherapy oils were used they were able to create a stimulus that triggered a response and released the emotional trauma. Depression has been an epidemic of the modern world due to its slow onset and low response rates to the drugs. Therefore scientists are always on a lookout for alternative medicines and practices that can help in treating depression. One such study was conducted by Tang and Tse in the year 2014 under the title “Aromatherapy” does it help to relieve pain, depression, anxiety and stress in community dwelling older persons?” (Tang, & Tse, 2014). In this study aromatherapy effects on older people with chronic pain were recorded. Elderly people who were residing in a community setting were asked to participate in a four week programme where one group were given aromatherapy and other was a control group. Firstly their levels for stress, pain, anxiety and depression were recorded prior to the therapy as baseline and were again recorded at the conclusion of the study. It was noted that there was a slight reduction in pain scores for the intervention group but there was a significant reduction in negative emotions, anxiety and stress in the intervention group. This showed that aromatherapy does help in reducing anxiety, stress and depression in older adults.
Another study that proves the benefits of aromatherapy in humans is “ The effects of aromatherapy massage on the psychological symptoms of postmenopausal Iranian women” conducted by Taavoni et al in the year 2013 during this study Taayoni and his colleagues studied about the psychological symptoms of menopause. In their randomized trial they learned about the effects of aromatherapy and massage on the study population (Taavoni, Darsareh, Joolaee, and Haghani, 2013). The study consisted of 90 women divided into 3 groups. One group was the aromatherapy group in which the women were given aromatherapy sessions two times a week with aromatherapy oils. Another group was of study participants that were given massages with odorless oils and there was also a control group that were provided no treatment. The results showed that the group that were given aromatherapy massages had reportedly have a score of decreased psychological symptoms followed by the group of the participants that were given massages by odorless oils. The results of this study are concurrent with the growing body of evidence that support the use of aromatherapy in reducing psychological symptoms and also numerous physicals symptoms.
The Role of Essential Oils
Aromatherapy is a holistic approach that treats the whole individuals and not just the symptoms. It assists the body’s own natural ability to regulate, maintain, balance and heal itself. This is an ancient art of using therapeutic essential oils to treat diseases. Surprisingly aromatherapy is not all about fragrances rather it includes the process that starts after the application of these essential oils. Numerous scientists have supported its use as sense of smell is our most primal sense and it has a significant influence on our memories, moods, thoughts, behavior and emotions. Aromatherapy is an excellent way to enhance the emotional and physical health of a person. Fragrances are being used from centuries and fortunately this therapy is making a comeback in our modern world. Modern science is still validating with studies which our ancients have known all along that how these unique oils can address the unmet challenges of our healthcare. Aromatherapy is versatile as it affects our digestion, nervous system, circulation, hair, and muscles while improving our mood, concentration and focus. No other drug, invasive procedures or modality influences our spirit, body and mind in this way. There is no therapeutic practice that affects as profoundly as aromatherapy.
Aldridge, M. (2002). Massage and aromatherapy – a practical approach (2nd Ed.). International Journal of Aromatherapy, 12(2), pp.115-116.
Alexander, M. (2002). Aromatherapy and immunity: how the use of essential oils aids immune potentiality. International Journal of Aromatherapy, 12(1), pp.49-56.
Chen, S. and Chen, C. (2015). Effects of Lavender Tea on Fatigue, Depression, and Maternal-Infant Attachment in Sleep-Disturbed Postnatal Women. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 12(6), pp.370-379.
Eads, R. (2008). Postoperative Nausea and Aromatherapy. Clinical Nurse Specialist, 22(2), p.108.
Edris, A. (2007). Pharmaceutical and therapeutic Potentials of essential oils and their individual volatile constituents: a review. Phytotherapy Research, 21(4), pp.308-323.
Ericksen, M. (2000). Healing with aromatherapy. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Keats.
Johnson, K., West, T., Diana, S., Todd, J., Haynes, B., Bernhardt, J. and Johnson, R. (2017). Use of aromatherapy to promote a therapeutic nurse environment. Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, 40, pp.18-25.
Karadag, E., Samancioglu, S., Ozden, D. and Bakir, E. (2015). Effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality and anxiety of patients. Nursing in Critical Care, 22(2), pp.105-112.
Koo, M. (2017). A bibliometric analysis of two decades of aromatherapy research. BMC Research Notes, 10(1), 45-54.
Loughran, J. and Bull, R. (2000). Aromatherapy & subtle energy techniques. 1st ed. Berkeley, Ca.: Frog, Ltd.
Mansour Lamadah, S. (2016). The Effect of Aromatherapy Massage Using Lavender Oil on the Level of Pain and Anxiety During Labour Among Primigravida Women. American Journal of Nursing Science, 5(2), p.37.
Posadzki, P. and Ernst, E. (2013). Adverse effects of homeopathy: a systematic review of published case reports and case series - response by Posadzki and Ernst. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 67(4), pp.389-389.
Safi, M. and Al-Mariri, A. (2014). In vitro antibacterial activity of several plant extracts and essential oils against Brucella melitensis. Herba Polonica, 60(1), 89-92.
Taavoni, S., Darsareh, F., Joolaee, S. and Haghani, H. (2013). The effect of aromatherapy massage on the psychological symptoms of postmenopausal Iranian women. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 21(3), pp.158-163.
Tang, S. and Tse, M. (2014). Aromatherapy: Does It Help to Relieve Pain, Depression, Anxiety, and Stress in Community-Dwelling Older Persons?. BioMed Research International, 2014, pp.1-12.
Zorba, P. and Ozdemir, L. (2017). The Preliminary Effects of Massage and Inhalation Aromatherapy on Chemotherapy-Induced Acute Nausea and Vomiting. Cancer Nursing, 1(1), p.1.
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