Healing comes in many forms, and sometimes even natural elements in our environment have been shown to have properties that promote wellness. The practice of aromatherapy is one such example of a complementary treatment which uses natural oils extracted from plants to enhance psychological and physical well-being.
Stein Hospice, part of the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living, offers the services of a Certified Aromatherapist to interested patients and families. This holistic approach can help with anxiety, stress, pain management, concentration and memory.
What is Aromatherapy?
Sometimes referred to as essential oil therapy, aromatherapy utilizes naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. “Essential oils have been found to provide both psychological and physical benefits when used correctly and safely,” explains Robin B. Kessler, Certified Aromatherapist, who has extensive training in the chemistry of essential oils and how they may help the body repair itself both physically and emotionally. Kessler uses only safe and pure essential oils and customizes them for each individual. The oils are dispensed through a diffuser or by spraying a hydrosol, a floral water produced by distilling the oils, making them gentle and light.
Is Aromatherapy Safe?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health, interest in aromatherapy grew in the late 20th century as a form of complementary medicine and the practice has gained momentum since. It is believed that aromatherapy works by sending chemical messages to the part of the brain that affects moods and emotions.
When administered by a certified practitioner, aromatherapy has no side effects, does not hurt and can only help. In order to determine the blend of oils best suited to each individual at Stein Hospice, Kessler reviews a patient’s medical history, including allergies, prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. She also obtains a social history, especially important in the elderly, to uncover a little bit about previous jobs, hobbies or interests and any smells they like or dislike.
Knowing the essential oils is important in order for aromatherapy to have a therapeutic benefit. Whereas a blend of sweet orange is extremely calming and helps with anxiety, a spray of rosemary can enhance alertness and concentration. Kessler especially enjoys working with the elderly population at Stein Hospice, commenting. “This is a population that can really benefit from this holistic approach to well-being.”
The alternative therapy program is funded through a grant from The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation.