Aromatic therapy or Aromatherapy is a natural and remedial modality of holistic healing that has been in use for thousands of years. It has been known to have overall benefits for emotional, mental, and physical health. It is often used as an alternative technique to aid medical treatments. Aromatherapy is the use of terpenes, the aromatic parts of the plant to produce healing effects for the mind and body. The best example of this is cannabis terpenes. Of course, you wouldn’t use cannabis extracts with children, but they are one of the best examples of what terpenes are.
Its origins have been traced back to ancient civilizations including Greeks, Egypt, and China and it has also been an essential part of Ayurvedic practices in India. The most common ailments that are treated with aromatherapy are pain relief, anxiety management, mood enhancement, inducing deep relaxation, and fighting harmful microbes that cause illness.
The modalities of the use of aromatherapy are in three forms. The first one is Aerial diffusion, in which scented oils with specific effects are prescribed to the individual, according to their therapeutic needs, it is used with the help of a diffuser. The second way is direct inhalation, which is practiced only when directed by a practitioner. The third technique is a topical application, this is done in the form of massages or baths. The goal of all these techniques is to improve the psychological well-being of the individual.
This modality of alternative healing can be used for children as well for the following benefits –
The benefits of massages have been well known. Along with the strengthening of muscles, it increases the blood flow in the body. Massages in combination with aromas are known to release dopamine or the feel-good hormone in the brain which helps in regulating the mood of the child. Muscular stress is also released with the help of this combination of massage-based aromatherapy. Scented oils such as chamomile, sweet orange, and lavender can be used while messages are being given to children. Deep relaxation is induced via this technique, it indirectly aids in promoting the overall health of the child.
For inducing sleep
A good scent always has a soothing and relaxing effect on the body. The sensory receptors present in the nose send neural signals to that part of the brain that is responsible for mood regulation, to induce deep relaxation. A study done in 2010 by Sergeeva and Hass proved that smelling jasmine has similar effects to that of sleep-inducing medicines as the molecular composition was such. Warm baths with infused essential oils can promote the onset of sleep and may also improve the quality of sleep. Aroma dispensers can also be used while the child is going to bed, scents like vanilla, jasmine, and lavender can be used.
Lee et al highlighted the anxiolytic or anxiety-reducing effects of aromatherapy in 2011. There have been many pieces of clinical evidence that show the same results. Any technique can be used to achieve the desired results. Aroma diffusers can create an environment that is soothing altogether and applicated of diluted essential oils on the hands or the temple area of the forehead can bring down the anxiety levels of the child. The scents that can be used are valerian, sweet basil, bergamot, and rose.
Aromatherapy is very well known for pain reduction, pain is produced when the muscles are strained or tensed. That is why when in pain, individuals are asked to relax and breathe deeply. This increases the oxygen flow to the muscles which brings some relief. The use of scents in combination with deep relaxation techniques can be quite effective in pain management. Research done by Shaheen et al in 2016 showed a significant positive effect of aromatherapy on pain reduction, it was also found to be more cost-effective as compared to standard pain-relieving treatments. The use of Ylang-Ylang essential oils, peppermint, and eucalyptus can serve the purpose. This form of medication can easily be used with children to relieve them of pain.
Aromatherapy can also be used to combat illnesses that are caused by infectious agents such as common colds or viral infections. The use of essential oils with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties can help children in flu seasons. Some of these essential oils are basil, cinnamon, tea tree, and bergamot. In research done by Wu et al in 2010, it was found that essential oil blends stop the influenza virus’s ability to spread, hence limiting its impacts on the body.
Many centers that provide behavioral therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy for kids, have also started using aerial diffusers to create an ambiance that is soothing so that the children can be in the right mood for the success of the therapy sessions. It is becoming a popular practice in the healthcare industry. These techniques can be integrated into daily routines as all, as they are all-natural. You could always consult an aromatherapist to make the techniques customized to your needs.
Contributed by Praveen Singh