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Holiday Health: Smelling the Roses

RNovations Health wanted to take some time to discus stress management. The next few posts will be about different ways to lower stress. Aromatherapy has been proven to be a great tool in lowering stress levels and easing symptoms of both anxiety and depression. This time of year can be especially stressful- dealing with family members that we may or may not look forward to seeing as well as the general hustle and bustle of the season. For people who struggle with anxiety and depression, this time of year can add to their struggles. Aromatherapy falls under what is called "Complimentary and Alternative Therapies". There's something to be said for stopping to smell the roses, let's take a look.

So what are these Complimentary and Alternative Therapies? These are treatments that are used along side (complimentary) or instead of (alternative) traditional or western medicine. Other methods in this category of treatments include yoga, acupuncture, acupressure, reiki, meditation, massage, visualization etc. Many of these therapies have been used for thousands of years. *It is very important to note, that not everyone's response to different management and treatment techniques. Talk to your physician before trying anything that's new to you.*

So what's this about aromatherapy? Aromatherapy refers to treatments using essential oils that usually involve diffusing scents in the air, but can also be using those same essential oils for massage. Essential oils are made from plants and have varying scents and healing properties such as anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, relaxation, etc. They are also the basis for perfumes. Essential oils have been used for over 6,000 years and in ancient Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian and Egyptian cultures. Some remain skeptical of alternative treatments because while this treatment method has been used for years, since it is not traditional medicine based, there is not much science supporting the benefits of the use of essential oils. Don't be mistaken though, not much data does not equal no data. There are so many essential oils. One you may commonly see in commercial products is lavender, which has well known relaxation and stress relief properties. Rose, lavender, sandalwood and bergamot have all been found to relieve anxiety stress and depression. Tea tree oil can be used for dry flaky scalp, eczema, and fungal infections.

The same effects the oils have through the sense of smell, they also have when they are additionally absorbed into the skin, such as in a massage. As with anything, be careful to test a small area of skin for allergies prior to using it all over the body, also consult with your healthcare provider to see if the essential oil you want to use interacts with any of your medications or is unsafe for any of your health conditions. A Certified Massage Therapist will also conduct a health screening prior to rendering services. If you have any chronic health conditions, especially pregnancy or circulation/heart issues, some essential oils can be harmful.

Aromatherapy can also easily be combined with other alternative therapies such as visualization, meditation, yoga, and guided imagery. One could use an ocean scented candle while playing sounds of ocean waves. As you listen to the waves, you breath in deeply through your nose and exhaling all the tension in your muscles, imagining the cool waves lapping your toes. Can you feel yourself relaxing a little as you read that? With added pleasant smells, it can really transport you to a different place.

What are the risks? As I mentioned before, as with anything there are risks involved in the use of aromatherapy. Some scents are not safe for use with certain conditions such as frankincense and roman chamomile in pregnancy or rosemary oil in people with high blood pressure. That's why it can't be understated that communication with your physician, a certified massage therapist, or a holistic medicine care provider is important prior to use. Be sure that if you're seeking out massage therapy that the individual is certified to perform therapeutic massage. And if you're interested in using more complimentary therapies to manage health conditions, seek out a health care provider (doctor or nurse practitioner) who encourages the use of complimentary therapies, is a naturopathic or holistic MD or NP, a certified or licensed practitioner of one of the therapies linked above, or you can call RNO and we'll help answer your questions and locate resources.

How RNovations can help: RNovations Health is here to help. We provide community health seminars about managing conditions. We assist people with learning the basics of their disease, medications, and treatments as well as how to make better choices one step at a time. RNO also provides education on and demonstration of different stress management techniques. We can help you with medication and nutrition review and counseling, that you can use to manage your health not only during the holidays, but every day thereafter. We also assist with health system navigation so that if you do need services, you are using the most effective mix of services. Give us a call at 804.386.4663 if you want to see how we can be of assistance to you or your group/community. You can also send us an email via the contact us page. We're here for you!

*The information contained above is for educational purposes only. Consult with your physician before making any changes to your diet or treatment regimen. Links provided above do not constitute and endorsement of any organization, rather that the information on the linked page has been verified.

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