AROMATHERAPY: AN ESSENTIAL PART OF MODERN INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE PRACTICE
There is a mounting healthcare consumer interest in the use of aromatherapy as a valuable treatment intervention for many disorders. Practitioners of Integrative Medicine are looking to incorporate aromatherapy into their clinical practice but they have been limited by the lack of education and standardization of a variety of valuable aromatherapy interventions. Natural Clinician LLC has researched a practical application of aromatherapy in clinical practice and developed a standardized and easy approach to this important complementary medical specialty.
The Science of Aromatherapy
Primary tools of aromatherapy are the use of essential oils. These are volatile liquids that are obtained from a variety of botanical sources. Oils that are utilized in clinical practice should be standardized, produced with chemical purity and manufactured by special processing that maintains purity, composition and fragrance of the oils. Thus, the healthcare professional should be using therapeutic grade oils. Essential oils have been used most often by topical application, using direct applications, massage or aroma touch techniques.
Essential oil applications can be made by aromatic applications which involve the inhalation of fine, disbursed mists of oils or simple exposure to vapors. Some essential oils have gained acceptance for internal use, but generally essential oils are used most often in a safe manner by topical application. The use of oils delivered by internal methods such as oral administration can only be quite specific for safety reasons. For example, targeted delivery of peppermint oil in small doses has major carminative actions with specific effects on smooth muscle relaxation. These observations on the use of peppermint oil have been very valuable.
The science of aromatherapy is developing rapidly. Multiple factors contribute to the actions of essential oils in aromatherapy treatments. First, there are complex olfactory mechanisms that stimulate the brain with major secondary functions in the central nervous system. Second, there is the direct effect of volatile compounds on body structures and functions e.g. the effect of the menthone content of certain oils on smooth muscle function.
The Science of Olfaction
The sense of smell (olfaction) is closely linked to the sense of taste (gestation) where chemical signals are transduced into perceptions. Receptor neurons in the olfactory epithelium of the nasal cavities respond to odor molecules (odorants) which initiate electrical signals that are conducted to the brained along olfactory nerves with termination in the olfactory bulbs. Axons of olfactory sensory neurons create tangles or glomeruli that connect with other neurons that relay information to various portions of the brain.
Odors produce patterns of neural activity in the piriform cortex (odor identification), the amygdale (social functional areas of the brain) and the entorhinal cortex (pairing odors to memory). This oversimplification of olfactory transduction sets the stage to understand the far reaching consequences of smell on body functions or socio-behavioral circumstances. Absence of smell senses (anosmia) or corruption of their transduction has far reaching consequences as does altered taste perception (dysguesia). In turn, different smells have different neurological outcomes and protean effects on body function. One can now start to see a scientific foundation for the use of aromatherapy (an ancient treatment system using an array of volatile oils.
The 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Richard Axel and Linda Buck for their work on olfactory sensation. This expanding area of medical science provides a major and credible platform for the importance of aromatherapy treatments in clinical practice.
Establishing Aromatherapy in an Integrative Medicine Practice
Natural Clinician LLC has developed a program for the institution for aromatherapy in a clinical practice. The provision of aromatherapy services is not only popular it provides enhancement of quality of care and complements of many natural healing techniques. There is a developing science on single essential oils or essential oil blends. The correct use of essential oils requires fundamental education which can be delivered in written or verbal format through Natural Clinician LLC. Aromatherapy has become a very important revenue model in clinical practice and its use is highly portable in an outpatient setting. In brief, Natural Clinician LLC can provide the following services:
1. Basic education of office staff in aromatherapy applications. The use of aromatherapy requires no licensure and it is safe and readily appreciated by clinic patients.
2. Written and virtual education with office visits where feasible for on-sight training
3. Provision of essential oil reagents with significant sales potential and general use.
4. Continuing advisory services for specific patient management.
There are many areas of patient well being that are served by aromatherapy. Modern research links olfactory sensation with weight control. Aromatherapy is an adjunct to behavior therapy for the induction of relaxation responses. Specific conditions can be managed in a complementary manner e.g. digestive function, mood modulation, cardiovascular health etc.