Aromatherapy & Health Tourism
Popular among followers of alternative and complimentary medical approaches, the principles of aromatherapy are several millennia old. Historians believe that it was probably the Chinese who first developed the belief that ingesting the vapors of oils derived from certain plants and their fruit can be beneficial to both physical and mental health.
Although often under scrutiny from the conventional medical community, aromatherapy is regularly practiced. The most common means of ingesting essential oils is by inhalation. Oils are diluted with water and placed in an oil burner, with a candle producing enough heat to cause the oil to evaporate. As the vapors permeate the air, their effects may be felt by anyone in close proximity.
The alternative to this method is to add a small volume of essential oil to a base oil such as sweet almond and then apply to the body through massage. This technique allows external ailments to be treated directly, as opposed to inhalation which is intended to have a more general and systemic effect.
Oils can be used to treat a variety of complaints with inhalation said to aid headaches, symptoms of common colds, stress, anxiety, insomnia and digestive complaints. Topical application is allegedly efficacious in treating arthritis and rheumatism, skin rashes and infections, warts, insect bites and minor wounds.
Some elements of aromatherapy have worked their way into mainstream culture and consumerism. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see essential oils such as tea tree added to popular skin and hair care products. Lavender is widely acknowledged for its calming effects and is commonly added to bath oils, pillows and inhalers (aroma sticks).