Essential oils have been around since the beginning of time. Throughout history, essential oils were used to cure diseases, relieve symptoms, and help people feel better after long illnesses.
They are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants and have amazing medicinal properties.
However, when some people think of essential oils, they may turn up their nose. Due to the Flexner Report of 1910 and the alliance between “Big Business” and the American Medical Association (AMA), no longer are oils a crucial part of the medical curriculum.
As medicine continues to focus on drugs, prescribing a “pill for every ill,” proven remedies and traditions are falling by the wayside, and essential oils have lost some of their popularity.
Cancer patients, however, have started a new resurgence in essential oils. Through aromatherapy, many cancer patients have found relief from the dire effects of chemotherapy and those caused by their illness. They utilize aromatherapy techniques during their recovery. And as you’ll see at the end of the article, they may even use essential oil as a treatment.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a natural modality that can help patients cope with chronic pain, nausea, stress, and depression. It also has been used to stimulate the immune system, fight off bacterial infections, increase circulation, alleviate headaches, soothe sore muscles, and help you sleep at night. Each oil is promoted to have specific health benefits, so patients must find the right oils for their health concerns.
Common essential oils used in aromatherapy and their health benefits include:
- Lavender is used to relieve stress, treat depression, reduce inflammation, and act as a natural decongestant.
- Eucalyptus can fight migraines, fevers, respiratory issues, and bacterial infections.
- Chamomile is a soothing essential oil that has antibacterial properties and can reduce inflammation and chronic pain.
- Bergamot is used to treat stress, anxiety, depression, skin infections, and fatigue.
- Peppermint is a stimulant that can sharpen your focus, enhance your mental alertness, and boost your energy.
These essential oils, and many more, can be used to help alleviate some of the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of allopathic cancer treatments like chemotherapy.
How is Aromatherapy Used to Help Patients Recover from Cancer?
Aromatherapy can be self-administered or administered by a professional. Many aromatherapists found in the United States are also massage therapists, psychologists, chiropractors, or social workers.
They may use the oils in their practices to help relieve some of their patients’ pain and enhance their quality of life. In the United States, you can buy the oils and a home diffuser yourself in order to self-administer your aromatherapy treatments. Essential oils can be used individually or combined for maximum benefits.
Everyone has a unique body chemistry, so different oils may work differently on unique individuals. For this reason, aromatherapy may take time to improve your symptoms. You may need to try numerous oils and oil combinations before finding an oil or a combination of oils that truly works for you.
Once you find the right oils, they can be applied to your skin or inhaled. For inhalation purposes, a home diffuser can be purchased. A home diffuser utilizes water to humidify your home and add essential oils to your environment.
You may also add a few drops of essential oils to a steaming pot of water or to your shower each day in order to vaporize the oils and inhale them.
If essential oils are applied directly to your skin, then they may need to be applied along with a carrier oil. Olive oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil are great carrier oils that can soak up the essential oils and help your body to absorb them properly. You can also make your own creams or salves that contain essential oils to use on your sore muscles or any areas of your body that are painful.
What About Frankincense?
This article wouldn’t be complete without mentioning frankincense. For over 5,000 years frankincense (aka “boswellia serrata”) has been used to support the immune system, fight infection, and cure diseases. Yes, even cancer!
A 2013 study by University of Leicester researchers indicated that frankincense contains a compound AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid) that targets cancer cells, including ovarian, brain, breast, colon, pancreatic, prostate, and stomach cancers. It has not, however, been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal but the initial findings are very promising!
According to researchers out of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, frankincense helps regulate the cellular epigenetic machinery, which highlights its ability to influence genes to promote healing. As a result, they believe that it may be effective for both cancer prevention and treatment!
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2015. It has been updated and republished in February 2021.