|Not too wordy today; letting the pictures do the talking
All righty, now we will get to the uplifting side of Aromatherapy, just imagine smelling a fresh, juicy orange- inhaling the sweet citrusy aroma into the nose, down the throat and into the lungs. How does that feel? By the simple act of imagining an aroma- we have deepened our breath and activated our senses. Yep- it can be that easy! Imagining the scent can be as effective as actually inhaling the essential oil sometimes.
Rhiannon’s talk included her experiences of working in a hospital setting using Clinical Aromatherapy to reduce her cancer patient’s symptoms. She talked specifically about 10 essential oils and how she might blend them for pain reduction, controlling infections and wound dressing, CIPN (chemo induced peripheral neuropathy), itch, fatigue, malodor and nausea. These are certainly some of the issues I see with my own cancer clients, so it was very interesting. I am not a Clinical Aromatherapist, however. My use of essential oils is very broad and to increase relaxation.
Let’s look at infections first. Rhiannon says that it is so important to identify the exact infectious organism so that the correct essential oils can target it specifically. Some people may not understand the basis for aromatherapy is Organic Chemistry. How carbon chains form and link together is what gives each eo it’s unique properties. Some examples are ketones, esters, and alcohols. Each essential oil also has many constituents that make up the whole- and each part contributes to the balance and healing properties of the eo. So each eo blend that Rhiannon creates is chosen to precisely act as a multisite toxicant to the infectious organism by affecting the cell membrane function. (For a really good peek at cell biology, cell function and the role of membranes, check out “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton, I couldn’t put it down!).
Rhiannon also suggested eo vaporizing diffusers to help keep air born infectious organisms from spreading. She said that it is best to use them on a cycle rather than continuously; for example 10 minutes every hour. Rhiannon says that when the diffuser is on all the time, it may lead to a build up of eo’s in the walls, rugs and such that can be irritating to the mucus membranes and that defeats the purpose of the benefits.
Pain: Rhiannon also talked about pain relief through the use the eo’s. Many cancer patients are in pain- from the disease and treatments. She said talks to her patients to understand how they are feeling. Do they have physical pain? Are they unable to sleep? Are they feeling anxious or depressed? And she keeps in mind that cancer pain can vary in intensity, quality and location for each client, the pain is not static such as other chronic pain conditions. And, a change in pain sometimes indicates metastasis; so many people living with cancer are very sensitive to changes in pain. Finding out all of these things allows Rhiannon to craft an eo blend especially for that person. In the world of allopathic medicine, most people get the same stuff, the eo’s are tailored to the individual. So depending on her patient, the eo blend may (or not) contain eo’s that reduce pain, induce relaxation, calm the mind, deepen the breath, or change the emotions.
For local skin and muscular pain, applying the eo blend provides comfort touch and distraction. There is evidence that the eo’s are absorbed at least as far as the underlying muscles and that is why there are positive results. It has also been shown that eo’s actually cause the underlying moisture in the skin to release into the upper layers; thus hydrating the skin.
The somatic effects of eo’s on the pain response include: establish analgesia and/or a local anesthetic effect, reduces inflammation and spasm, increases blood flow and counters irritant stimulus.
The emotional effects of eo’s on the pain response include: inducing relaxation, improving sleep patterns, increasing motivation, improving moods, restoring confidence and coping strategies, engaging social skills, encourages a sense of control over pain, acknowledges anxiety and fear.
That is a huge list of benefits for those who are living with cancer. All by combining natural, powerful plant substances with loving touch; non-invasive, holistic, and healing to the body, mind and spirit.
Thank you, Rhiannon, for presenting your wonderful work and sharing your extensive knowledge with us! And thanks to the s4om and Northwestern Health Science University for putting the 2013 Oncology Massage Healing Summit together. It was an amazing experience.
I am celebrating 10 wonderful years as a massage therapist. Enjoy a 75 minute massage for only $65 during the month of May. Call 831-227-5335 to set up your wellness appointment today.
Enhance your health; it’s a precious gift and thanks for checking in!
Jane Ann, Massage Pro NCH CHt
Some eos are very affordable and some are astronomically expensive…In our seminar, Rhiannon reminded us about how precious essential oils are depending on the availability of the plant material and methods of extraction; some are rare, costly to produce and are in high demand. Rhiannon spoke to us about Helichrysum italicum, a very expensive essential oil. It takes one ton (2,000 pounds) of helichrysum flowering tops to yield less than 2 pounds of eo! When you see how tiny the flowers are, it really is quite staggering to picture that amount of flowers!
Why is Helichrysum italicum so desirable? The health benefits of this miraculous eo include supporting the respiratory, immune and neurological systems of the body. And it is anti-inflammatory and widely used in skin care products because it reduces wrinkles, supports collagen counts, and enhances skin cell regeneration. And Helichrysum italicum is good for first aid; it also heals wounds, bruises, scar tissue and relaxes taut muscle tissue. But wait, there’s more- it works on the emotional level for reducing anger and emotional wounds, too. And the best in the world is wild grown on the small island of Corsica, which is why it is so rare and costly.
For all of the above reasons it is worthwhile for bandits to steal it from the growers as they are harvesting Helichrysum italicum in the wild. Can you imagine having your Helichrysum stolen right out from under you?! And unscrupulous producers unadulterate it. Or misrepresent the variety and location where it was grown and still command high prices. Hearing all of this during our seminar made me sit up straight and listen, I wasn’t expecting to have bandits included in our topic!
Rhiannon says steps are being taken to change all of that; more plants are being grown and areas are being found that duplicate the Corsica natural environment for Helichrysum italicum production to try to meet the demand for it. And, I hope more protection is being provided for the growers/harvesters on Corsica.
What can we do to help? Treat Helichrysum italicum like the precious commodity it is and use it sparingly only when we must and use other, more common eo’s instead whenever we can. We can purchase our eos from reliable sources that have batch numbers and provide documentation of their products. We are so blessed that we have all of these remarkable substances available so readily. It wasn’t always so; not long ago only royalty had access to many of the essences we take for granted. Something to think about-yes?
Coming up next: Part 3. Astonishing news about the results of Aromatherapy and people living with cancer!
Enhance your health; it’s a precious gift and thanks for checking in,
Jane Ann, Massage Pro NCH CHt
Wow! I think I heard that there were 47 states and 7 countries represented at the Healing Summit at Northwestern Health Science University! There were 100’s of big hearted massage therapists and other health care professionals who work with people on their cancer journey. We enjoyed lectures by the leaders in the field and learned new research about the benefits of massage for those living with or surviving cancer. It was awesome!
I was so fortunate to attend the post conference presentation “Clinical Application of Essential Oils for Cancer Patients” by Rhiannon Lewis, FIFPA- what an amazing woman! She was as enthusiastic at the end of the day as when she began. She offered 10 essential oils for us to smell, including 2 wild lavenders (Lavandula officinalis and latifolia) that her village harvests from the mountain side in Grasse, France. 3 of the eo’s were new to me yet I recognized the constituents and I knew the other 7 just by their aroma (thank you, Amber at TLC, for an excellent education).
Rhiannon’s expertise is in Clinical Aromatherapy and she works in a hospital using eo’s for treatment of neuropathy, pain, skin care, dry mouth, controlling infections, fatigue, malodor and wound care. Europe seems way ahead of the states with these applications of eo’s. And of course, Rhiannon’s training and scope of practice is waay beyond what I provide as an Aromatherapy Practitioner; I certainly do not prescribe, treat or diagnosis disease or illness.
Aromatherapy Part 1
“Bad News” first: I am going to mention an unfortunate “advance” in aromatherapy.
Some infectious organisms have become resistant to Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and Lavender (Lavendula officianalis). YIKES!
What does this mean to us? It means that lavender and tea tree no longer kill off particular pathogens that cause infectious disease such as Staphyloccus aureus aka MRSA in humans. These 2 eo’s were very useful in treating bacterias that were already antibiotic resistant, and now they are not.
Why has this happened? Recent research suggests that over use of Tea Tree and Lavender at low, non-lethal doses has allowed these pathogens to gain resistance. Take a minute and think of all of the products that contain Tea Tree or Lavender: soaps, air fresheners, shampoos, toothpaste, cleansers…
This research also suggests that this trend may be responsible for increasing bacterial resistance over a wide range of other common pathogens.
What can we do to prevent further pathogen resistance? We may have forgotten or perhaps never learned how precious and truly useful eo’s are. Let’s respect the potency of the eo’s and perhaps slow down in our use. Rhiannon suggested that it is best to use blends and not single out a particular eo. She also said that it is best not to continually use the same oils; so I will rotate eo’s. I always buy unscented massage oil/creme. Some of my clients prefer no scent and many of my cancer clients can not tolerate odors. For other clients, I can custom mix a relaxing eo blend if they wish.
I also buy unscented soaps, lotions, detergents, and cleaners. That way, I can control what I am using in my products and it makes my nose happy, too.
Next up: Precious Eo’s & Bandits
Enhance your health; it’s a precious gift and thanks for checking in,
Jane Ann, Massage Pro NHC CHt
So, I am zooming off to Minnesota. There are over 300 massage therapists registered for the Northwestern Health Science Oncology Massage Healing Summit. This event happens every three years and it is an opportunity for massage therapists to gather and learn from some of the most experienced in the oncology massage field. The speakers are Frank Ostaseski , Megan Cole, Gayle McDonald, Tracy Walton, Isabel Adkins and more. Some of the topics include end of life care, Lymphedema, Bowen, eastern bodywork modalities and more.
I am happy to have signed up for the Clinical Applications of Essential Oils for Cancer
I will have more to share next week, until then Enhance your health; it’s a precious gift and thanks for checking in.
Jane Ann, massage pro, NCH, CHt