A bubble bath that improves memory. A kitchen cleaner that wards off nausea and energizes. A scented handkerchief that calms a patient entering the MRI. The benefits of aromatherapy are real. Below, learn the uses, healing properties and how-tos of using aromatherapy to heal and de-stress from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Scan the shelves of the local bath and body stores and one is sure to find products labeled for aromatherapy. Many might be surprised to learn the science behind it. So what is aromatherapy, how is it used and will those products actually work?
Cherie Perez, a supervising research nurse in the Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology, teaches a monthly aromatherapy class to answer those questions for cancer patients and caregivers undergoing treatment at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Perez's classes are offered free of charge through M. D. Anderson's Place... of wellness, a center within the institution that focuses on helping patients and caregivers deal with the non-medical issues of living with cancer, and is the first complementary therapy facility to be built on the campus of a comprehensive cancer center.
Perez, who first became involved with aromatherapy to help relieve the physical pain and discomfort caused by fibromyalgia, shares her professional knowledge of the basics of aromatherapy, safety precautions and interactive demonstrations in each hour-long class.
Oils and healing
While essential oils may not directly stimulate the immune system, they can complement cancer treatment by boosting the system's ability to fight off infections, says Perez.
Certain oils can also stimulate lymphatic drainage or have antibacterial properties. Since it has many potential uses ranging from managing anxiety and nausea to helping with sleep, general relaxation, memory and attention, many individuals, including cancer patients, can benefit from
Contact: Lindsay Anderson
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center