Note to Overseas readers: This was originally written for UK readers only.
Massage and aromatherapy can provide valuable supportive care to people suffering from A.I.D.S. related illnesses, or if they are suffering the mental anguish of being pronounced H.I.V. positive. (1) However, people who work with such illnesses do require some specialist training, and there are several organisations which can provide advice and training on the following:
a. Risks of contracting the disease.
b. Risks of infection from pathologies associated with the syndrome.
the caring skills necessary when working with people who may
authorities, Social Services, etc. can provide further guidance.
a. Inhalation of the oil's vapours using room diffusers, oil burners or from warm water.
b. Adding the oils to baths, footbaths, sitz baths and douches
c. Direct application (when diluted in a solvent) for skin ailments.
in a massage medium for use over the whole body, or just for
BENEFITS OF MASSAGE:
oils when given internally as medicines do contain beneficial pharmacological
agents. However, they do not represent the full range of therapeutic
properties of the plants from which they are extracted. Furthermore,
due to the unreliability of their origin, i.e. NATURAL
or SEMI-SYNTHETIC, essential oils should not
be used internally except under expert guidance. Aromatherapists
in general do not receive detailed training in medical diagnosis or
on the suitability of oils for internal use.
There is little evidence that most essential oils, when applied to the skin in the amounts used in aromatherapy massage, can be absorbed into the body in sufficient volume to have any systemic medicinal activity. However, there is now a body of evidence indicating that essential oils can gain access to the circulation via inhalation. Essential oils are highly volatile substances, and as soon as you can smell an oil you are taking into your body elements of that fragrance. It is well documented that certain drugs can achieve significant systemic absorption via the nasal passages.
opinion, H.I.V. positive patients stand more chance of deriving medicinal
benefit from plants by consulting a Medical Herbalist, who will
be able to prescribe a variety of plant extracts internally.
Plants contain hundreds to thousands of natural chemicals and many
have recorded pharmacological activity. Thousands of these compounds
are still unidentified and their activity therefore is unknown to
CHEMISTS. The combination of aromatherapy and herbal medicine is ideal
treatment for H.I.V. They may not be able to cure it, but will
certainly will provide a lot of physical and emotional support enhancing
the body's ability to fight disease and possibly delay the onset of
of the oesophagus, trachea and lungs.
and rectal candida.
tract bacterial infections.
and fungal infections of the skin.
of the terminally ill.
for terminally ill people helps relatives and partners when they realise
that 'something is being done' to help their loved ones, rather than
just letting them lie in bed slowly dying. Surrounding the patient
with the wonderful scent of fragrant plant oils helps everyone cope
with emotionally charged situations. Carers may feel ‘more involved’
if they obtain some education in how to use essential oils for palliative
Only a few
aromatherapy courses provide sufficient training in the verifiable
adverse or therapeutic effects of essential oils, and few aromatherapists
are trained in any of the medical or botanical sciences. It
is lamentable that training of tutors in particular has not
kept pace with the exacting requirements of using of this therapy
within a clinical setting.
We hear a
lot about how they "protect the public", but in fact, they are of
little real protection. They are not enforceable in law and anyone
who watches the B.B.C. television "Watchdog"
programme will have seen time and time again how ineffective such
trade codes of conduct can be. These codes
are there to protect the trades concerned and to hoodwink the public,
they give no realistic protection in aromatherapy.
Many Aromatherapists and some training organisations maintain that essential oils are "only safe in their hands". They use this marketing ploy to promote their often overpriced and inadequate courses. In fact the vast majority of essential oils have been passed as "safe for RETAIL to the public other than in a pharmacy" by the UK Dept. of Health. However, a few oils ARE unsafe and some are still retailed to the public by unscrupulous suppliers without adequate warnings.
1. R1-9 pages 15 & 29 National Aids Manual Centre for disease control and prevention U.S.A.
2.Kaada B. & TorsteinbØ O. 1989. Gen. Pharmac. Vol. 20. No. 4. 487-489.
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