Aromatherapy: On the Scent of Something Beneficial

Fairview Southdale explores the advantages of aromatherapy.

The use of essential oils for health benefits dates back to ancient Egyptian cultures, when oils infused with herbs were used for an array of health purposes. Today, health providers at the Fairview Southdale birth center offer modern versions of this tradition with aromatherapy.

Naturally infused scent sticks are employed to treat pain, anxiety and nausea. “It’s very patient-controlled,” says Sarah Huffman, nurse manager of the Birthplace at Fairview Southdale. She says patients can use the scents as they please when symptoms arise. The best part about this supplemental treatment is that it’s virtually free of side effects, unlike more mainstream methods of treating the same symptoms, like oral or intravenous medications.

So what is it about aromatherapy that works to treat these symptoms? And why does hitting the mall and buying in-store products (like lotions or sprays) with similar scents fail to do the trick? Huffman says, “It’s really about the aromatherapy oils over fragrance.”

Many store-bought products with similar scents are often mimicking plant fragrances with synthetic ingredients. “That’s all man-made,” says Huffman, but “essential oils are all derived from the plants.” For example, components of mandarin and ginger plants are directly extracted to create aromatherapy sticks that appear to reduce nausea and improve digestion.

True essential oils and aromatherapy products aren’t hard to find. There are a number of companies and online retailers that sell them. Aromatherapy inhalers can last up to six months.