Aromatherapy is a discipline in which extracts from different parts of plants such as flowers, stem, leaves, barks, seeds and other portions is used to allegedly enhance physical, psychological and spiritual well-being through different means of application on the human body.
There is not enough medical evidence to support its outcomes yet but it is successfully used as an alternative medicine.
A person who specialize in aromatherapy, an aroma therapist uses blends of essential oils for topical application, massage, inhalation and water immersion to gain certain health objectives.
Aromatherapy is around for quite some time and is gaining momentum, recognition and acceptation. As its use becomes more widespread, more holistic approaches to its applications are being adopted.
Methods of application
- Through the Air: The aromatic materials can be delivered through air by burning or spraying plant variations or extracts.
- Through Inhalation: The involves intake of plant aromatics through breath.
- Though Application on the Body: This involves bathing, massage, compresses and other skin applications.
Since aromatherapy is not a complete science as the study to understand this holistic discipline is still in midway, many medical experts warn of the hazardous effects that this practice carry. In the following the dangers of aromatherapy is described with detail.
Undiluted Essential Oils can cause Sensitive Skin
The usage of undiluted essential oils should be highly discouraged. Sometimes even a highly experienced aroma therapist may go for an exception and apply undiluted form of essential oil. This can lead to skin rashes, irritation, allergy and sensitivity. There are numerous aromatherapy resources that allow the application oil extracted from tea and lavender without dilution. This can be a serious mistake because if the skin is if ruptured or there is an external injury that involves skin damage. One account of such an incident that has been recorded in a book of an English female author named Marge Clark in her book “Essential oil and aromatics”. She has described an occasion that once she used lavender in neat form while she had a broken skin. After this application of undiluted oil, she had a permanent sensitivity reaction and whenever she comes in contact with lavender in any form, she starts suffering from dermatitis (skin inflammation) that takes months to heal.
Toxicity in Essential Oils
Toxicity in plants are natural way to protect themselves from enemies in nature. The essential oils can have many benefits but it should be taken into consideration that certain essential oils may carry compounds that are toxic and can damage certain types of cells and tissues in the human body. These toxic essential oils can also cause damage to vital internal organs in the human body like liver, kidney and cells of the nervous system
There is a range of common plants that cannot be used because of their toxicity. The oral intake of toxic essential oils can be lethal. There are many toxic essential oils that can lead to hallucinations, seizures and agitation.
There are a number of people in a sample of population that may display skin irritation or other allergic reactions upon the application of essential oils while the same essential oil does not harm the skin of another person. The allergic reaction is characterized by the initial redness and pain in skin as essential oil is applied. The skin can on its own heal back to normal without any long term problems but application of that essential oil for that person with such a sensitive skin type is recommended not to be used again for aromatherapy in the future.
Phototoxicity or photosensitivity can occur when certain types of an essential oils are applied to the external parts of a person’s body and that same person goes out in the Sun or lies on a tanning bed. In such a case the person can get a Sun burn or worse. The phototoxicity is normally caused by ultraviolet radiation in the Sun rays or in the tanning bed light creating biochemical reactions in the essential oils and that particular type of the skin. Avoidance from skin exposure to ultraviolet radiation from any source is advised for up to 12 hours after the aromatherapy. There are certain types of essential oils that can show this type of effect. These include but not limited to the following, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Bitter Orange, Cumin and others.
Internal Use of Essential Oils
Many of the essential oils are not for internal use and the essential oils that are used internally require extreme cautions. Essential oils are extracted from very potent plants and their antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties are well known in medical science. The human stomach is teeming with bacteria and many of the bacteria found in human gut are useful to the body. When the essential oils are inhaled it does effect a type of human friendly bacteria called flora. Is the effect harmful or safe? it is not completely known to medical science. What is known that inhalation of essential oils at the time of pregnancy can result in extremely adverse consequences.