Investigate aromatherapy for headache...

If you've been told to try aromatherapy for headache, you're not alone. Aromatherapy is a treatment thousands of years old that is still popular today, as a stroll through any health or drugstore will tell you. But how do you find out if aromatherapy is right for you, and what does the research say?

Aromatherapy for headache vs aromachology

Today the word “aromachology” is popping up in the neighbourhood drugstore as well. What's the difference between aromachology and aromatherapy for headache?

The former Health AtoZ writes,”Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of plant-derived, aromatic essential oils to promote physical and psychological well-being.” The key is that aromatherapy for headache usually involves the use of essential oils extracted from plants.

Aromachology is a word coined by the Olfactory Research Fund in 1986. It basically has to do with research about the way any kind of odour effects you. Aromachology is a part of aromatherapy, but it includes much more than just essential oils.

How does aromatherapy for headache benefit you?

Essential oils have complex and little understood effects on the body. The "aromachology effect" may be a large part of the benefit. The aroma itself may have a cultural bias – in other words, depending on your background you may enjoy certain smells more than others. At the very least, an aroma that you subconsciously dislike may cancel out the benefits from aromatherapy for headache.

But proponents believe that the benefits of aromatherapy go far beyond just the odours themselves. An article in Contemporary OB/GYN puts it this way: The exact method by which essential oils work is unknown. The relaxation effects attributed to many of these oils may be due to the chemical property of the essential oil or the method of administration. Is it the smell of an essential oil that simply makes the recipient feel good, bad, happy, or depressed? Could the essential oil work directly on the central nervous system or affect immune function? Again, the mechanism of action may be unknown but it is likely that essential oils are metabolized in ways similar to other drugs. Therefore, like other drugs, essential oils have the potential for drug-drug interactions and possibly overdose.

An article from Global Cosmetic Industry in 2001 writes: Research results have found that essential oils contain potent healing properties. "Oils go where the need is present and are activated in that area," says Dr. Young. The body absorbs the oils fastest by breathing and second fastest through application to the feet or ears. Essential oils last 20 minutes in the body. The application and inhalation of these essential oils is what aromatherapy is all about.

With certain cautions, aromatherapy is safe to try and may go a long way toward helping you cope with migraine or headache, and may actually help to relieve symptoms. Aromatherapy has been used to alleviate symptoms such as nausea, backache, and insomnia. Aromatherapy for headache is generally recommended as a treatment to try in addition to conventional care.

Cautions regarding aromatherapy for headache:

If you're ready to try aromatherapy for headache, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Try to buy pure essential oils. The purer, the better.
2. If you're taking other medications, watch out for any adverse effects and report them to your doctor.
3. Talk to your doctor first if you're pregnant, epileptic, or if you're sharing with a child. Aromatherapy is generally considered safe during pregnancy, especially after the first trimester, but your doctor may suggest certain oils or treatments to avoid.
4. Regarding the oil itself, it needs to be kept in a cool, dark place. If you're buying an essential oil that has not been protected from light, think twice! They are usually sold in dark or opaque containers and boxes.
5. Keep trying! One oil may not make you feel better, or may even give you a slight headache, but that just means you should try a different oil.

Ready to try aromatherapy for headache?

The top 5 oils recommended for migraine or other headache:
peppermint, sandlewood (my favourite), lavender, eucalyptus, and rosemary

Top 5 ways to use essential oils:
Make your own recipe using two or more of the oils listed above! Here are some ways to use them...

In a diffuser – Run for 15 to 20 min., 2 to 3 times a day
Bath time - Add about 8 drops to your bath, blended with 1 tbsp of unscented bath oil
Facial Massage – blend 6 drops of oils with 1 tbsp face oil base. Massage over face and neck using circular movements
Massage – blend about 12 drops of essential oils with 1 tbsp of unscented massage oil
Inhalation – Add 3-5 drops of essential oils to a large bowl of hot water. Close your eyes and cover your head with a towel while leaning about a foot above the bowl. Use for about 5 minutes. (Not recommended for persons with asthma)

Where do I start?

Aromatherapy - what works!

What are the best essential oils? Where can I get a great diffuser, or what kind of massage oil should I look for?

Read this article for the practical side of aromatherapy for headache. You may be surprised at what a difference it can make when it really counts!

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