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More and more lymphedema therapists are incorporating aromatherapy in with their lymphedema physiomassage therapy. As a result, it has become a much more complex issue then simply saying yes, it does help or no, it doesn't.

If you had to answer the question specifically, "does it help?"  The answer would, in my opinion be no.  I could find only two clinicals relating to lymphedema and aromatherapy.  Both were conclusive in that there is no direct evidence at all indicating that aromatherapy is an effective treatment for the condition.

However, if you look at lymphedema as a condition that causes extreme stress and anxiety, then I would have to say yes.  From all indications aromatherapy is relaxing, reduces patient stress/anxiety, increase patient comfort and acording to the nursing journals promotes a "therapeutic" relationship between nurse (therapist) and patient. 

Thus, the choice is in the hands of the patient.  The decision is yours.  Since aromatherapy is classified as an alternative medicine I do recommend the patient do thorough research, discuss the treatment with their physician and also make sure it is covered by your insurance should you decide to undertake it.  Also, I strongly urge the reader to go through the listing of clinical studies/abstracts provided at the bottom section of this page.  

Pat O'Connor

April 22, 2008 

As of our Janurary 2012, there still is simply no clinical evidence to support the claim that aromatherapy can help, treate or cure lymphedema.

The main area that is seems to help (though more studies are needed) is  in relaxation and/or some types of minor pain.


Disclaimer: This is presented for information only. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement of the therapies and/or treatment. Individuals should consult with their physicians as to its applicability in their personal situation. Aromatherapy is often used in conjunction with manual lymphatic drainage therapy, complex decongestive therapy and reflexology therapy in lymphedema


Pharmacological effects attributed to essential oils:

*Information from the Trade Association for the Aromatherapy Essential Oil Industry*

Antibacterial In vitro testing has confirmed antibacterial effects in certain oils including rosemary, clove, lime, cinnamon, and tea tree oil.
Antiviral Supported for tea tree oil, lemongrass, sandlewood, peppermint, ginger, thyme, and hyssop in in vitro testing against Herpes
Antifungal Supported by in vitro testing for lavender, thyme, clove, juniper, and tea tree oil
anti-inflammatory Reported in in-vitro assays of clove, cinnamon, sage, eucalyptus, black cumin and bay leaf
anxiolytic Reported in animal models using oils of lavender, rose and angelica 

Popular uses: 

Basil is used in perfumery for its clear, sweet and mildly spicy aroma. In aromatherapy, it is used for sharpening concentration, for its uplifting effect on depression, and to relieve headaches and migraines. Basil oil has many chemotypes and some are known to be emmenagogues and should be avoided during pregnancy. 

Bergamot is one of the most popular oils in perfumery. It is an excellent insect repellent and may be helpful for both the urinary tract and for the digestive tract. It is useful for skin conditions linked to stress, such as cold sores and chicken pox, especially when combined with eucalyptus oil. Bergamot is a flavoring agent in Earl Grey tea. But cold-pressed Bergamot oil contains bergaptene, a strong photosensitizer when applied to the skin, so only distilled or 'bergaptene-free' types can be topically used.

Black pepper has a sharp and spicy aroma. Common uses include stimulating the circulation and for muscular aches and pains. Skin application is useful for bruises, since it stimulates the circulation

Citronella oil, obtained from a relative of lemongrass, is used as an insect repellant and in perfumery. 
Clove oil is a topical analgesic, especially useful in dentistry. It is also used an antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, and antiemetic. 
Eucalyptus oil is often used in combination with peppermint to provide relief for the airways in case of cold or flu. 
Geranium oil is used as an astringent, antiseptic and diuretic. 
Jasmine is used as an aphrodisiac 
Lavender oil is used as an antiseptic, to soothe minor cuts and burns, to calm and relax, and to soothe headaches and migraines. 
Lemon oil is uplifting and anti-stress/anti-depressant. In a Japanese study, lemon essential oil in vapour form has been found to reduce stress in mice and researchers at Ohio State University reveals that Lemon oil aroma may enhance your mood, and may relax you. 

Rose is used as an aphrodisiac 
Sandalwood oil is used as an aphrodisiac 
Tea tree oil and many other essential oils have topical (external) antimicrobial (i.e. antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, or antiparasitic) activity and are used as antiseptics and disinfectants.
Thyme oil 
Yarrow oil is used to reduce joint inflammation and relieve cold and influenza symptoms. 
Ylang-ylang oil is used as an aphrodisiac 


Buyer Beware: The United States does not regulate the use of the word aromatherapy" on product packaging, labeling or in product advertising, so any product can be marketed as a product suitable for aromatherapy. There are quite a few products on the market that contain unnatural ingredients including fragrance oils and claim to be aromatherapeutic. It's important to look at the ingredient label when seeking true aromatherapy products.

Also, use caution with marketing claims that state a product is "Made With Essential Oils" or "Made With Natural Ingredients." Claims like these do not state that the product is only made with the ingredient(s) specified. Such products may contain heavy proportions of synthetic fragrance oils and only contain a minute quantity of essential oil to simply be able to profess the "Made With Essential Oils" claim.

Also, be very aware of the fact that there are no licensing laws regulating who can claim to be an aromatherapist, the training needed, experience of any other regulation required for a professional license.  Exception: Any topical application of essential oils would require one to have a professional license ie; massage therapy. Depending on the STATE that you reside and offer your services in, you would need to contact the STATE Board of the particular profession for more information.

Regulation Information:

The aromatherapy industry fall under different regulatory regimes. From the safety control viewpoint, they are likely to fall into the following potential categories:

Traditional herbal medicinal products if they can meet the high quality and safety registration requirements

Herbal remedies (that is, medicinal products) exempt from licensing when mixed, administered or sold by aromatherapists in the course of their business

The Trade Association for the Aromatherapy Essential Oil Industry


According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.  It is an art and science which seeks to explore the physiological, psychological and spiritual realm of the individual's response to aromatic extracts as well as to observe and enhance the individual's innate healing process.  As a holistic medicine, Aromatherapy is both a preventative approach as well as an active treatment during acute and chronic stages of illness or 'dis'-ease.

It is a natural, non-invasive treatment system designed to affect the whole person not just the symptom or disease and to assist the body's natural ability to balance, regulate, heal and maintain itself by the correct use of essential oils.

"Aromatherapy is essentially an interaction between the therapist, client and essential oils, working together to bring forth the healing energy which will help the client regain their sense of well being and vitality."  Jade Shutes

A Brief History of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy had been around for 6000 years or more. The Greeks, Romans, and ancient Egyptians all used aromatherapy oils. The Egyptian physician Imhotep recommended fragrant oils for bathing, massage, and for embalming their dead nearly 6000 years ago. Imhotep is the Egyptian god of medicine and healing. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used aromatherapy baths and scented massage. He used aromatic fumigations to rid Athens of the plague.

The modern era of aromatherapy is dawned in 1930 when the French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse coined the term aromatherapy for the therapeutic use of essential oils. He was fascinated by the benefits of lavender oil in healing his burned hand without leaving any scars. He started investigating the effect of other essential oils for healing and for their psychotherapeutic benefits.

During world war II, the French army surgeon Dr. Jean Valnet used essential oils as antiseptics. Later, Madame Marguerite Maury elevated aromatherapy as a holistic therapy. She started prescribing essential oils as remedy for her patients. She is also credited with the modern use of essential oils in massage.

National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy


What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is more than just smelling something to make you well. It is a beautiful art that is budding into a science as we look more closely at the subtle, yet profound effect that Essential Oils have on our mind and body. Aromatherapy is the art and science of using Essential Oils to relax, balance and stimulate the body, mind and spirit. Essential Oils can be used in a wide variety of ways for many different purposes from athlete's foot to enlightenment and almost every point between!

The word "Aromatherapy" was first coined by Rene Gattefosse in 1910 after he experienced the power of lavender oil to heal a burn he had suffered during a laboratory accident. The deliberate use of aromatic material is probably as old as the human race with references to its religious, medicinal and sensual use in many ancient texts. However, never before have so many different essential oils been so easily obtained. In today's age, the level of communication and transportation is able to assist in gathering essential oils from all over the globe and making them available to all who want to explore them.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential Oils are the volatile aromatic essence produced by hundreds of aromatic plants through the process of photosynthesis. When you smell a rose, it is the precious essential oil evaporating from the petals that releases the aroma. Only a tiny amount of oil is produced by each rose. In fact, it takes about thirty roses to yield one drop of pure essential oil! Not all plants are so sparing with their essential oil production, but this is why pure rose oil is among the most expensive to purchase. Even though rose oil is very expensive, it is important to note that only a small amount is needed for most applications. Think of this as an oil's energy, not so much the type, but the intensity. Higher energy essential oils are those that require relatively large amounts of plant material to produce each drop of oil.

While most are familiar with aromatic plants that store their essence in the flower, there are many other plants that store their essential oil in the leaves, peel, root, bark or seed. This determines the part of the plant that is gathered for distillation.

Essential Oil Distillation

Essential Oils are obtained through a process of steam distillation. Aromatic plant material is harvested and filled into a canister through which the steam rises. The steam gently lifts the precious, volatile oil from the plant material through a condenser coil that cools the steam back to liquid droplets. This oil and water combination flows into a Florentine flask where the essential oil naturally separates and floats atop the water. Each plant has its own unique characteristics and will yield its best oil to those distillers who have learned the subtle techniques through many seasons.

Aromatherapy distillation requires a correct balance of time and temperature to release the most valuable molecules from the aromatic plant material without destroying them. This careful distillation can take a much longer time, but it allows the plant to release its full depth of aromatic complexity.

Pure Essential Oils carry a tremendous amount of plant energy; therefore, even a very small quantity can have significant healing power. Alchemists regarded essential oils as the essence or soul of the plant and their distillation provided essential oils to natural pharmacies, known as Apothecaries, during the Renaissance!

Origin and Cultivation

The location grown and cultivation method affects an oils quality. The type of soil, amount of rainfall, sunlight, humidity, the whole environment plays a role in the quality of essential oil that is produced by the aromatic plant. Since these differences can be quite noticeable, we believe that this information should be included with every essential oil sold for Aromatherapy purposes. The following key shows the various cultivation methods:

Certified Organic Farming (CO): Certified by independent monitoring agencies to be grown without the use of any artificial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. They are distilled in organic facilities according to the highest therapeutic standards.

Organic Farming (O): Farms who practice organic cultivation, yet are not independently monitored. This is usually due to the lack of an agency in the area. Farms in these more remote areas are usually unable to purchase the herbicides and fertilizers due to their cost. Personal contact confirms that their cultivation is organic.

Selected Farming (S): Skillfully selected and tested for the highest possible cases where no organic monitoring agencies exist and without close personal contact, oils are chosen with care.

Wildcrafted (W): These are plants which are gathered in their natural environment and are essentially free of any artificial intervention. They are truly organic...touched only by the hand of nature!

Absolute (Abs): These are oils extracted through the use of solvents rather than steam distillation. Often a two-step process with an aromatic waxy substance called a concrete, from which the oil is distilled.

The Spirit of Aromatherapy

Pure essential oils carry an intelligence that communicates with a deep part of ourselves. The book of Genesis states, "And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life..." For those of us who hold to the Creation story, this account reveals the significance of breath taken in through the nostrils. This life force is also referred to as Prana. Aromatic molecules fit into our olfactory nerves in a very specific way and send impulses to the limbic system. The limbic system is thought to be the seat of memory and emotions. All of our life experiences may be coded by the aroma that was present during that experience. This is why it is common to recall memories, even distant childhood memories, when smelling essential oils. In this way, Aromatherapy may be used to release emotions held in our bodies from past experiences.

It is challenging to describe an aroma. Aromas have stirred many poets to reach deep into their vocabulary to capture their essence. The process of describing an aroma is an exercise in what some call "whole-brain" thinking. In the brain, an aroma tends to stimulate the romantic, creative or right-hemisphere. Yet often our classic, rational, left-hemisphere is called on to describe and categorize an aroma. This process can create new connections or neural pathways which may also benefit other mental processes. It is not uncommon for those who develop a relationship with the oils to experience a heightened sense of subtle awareness. This can take the form of telepathy, serendipity and life changes.

Everyday Aromatherapy Applications


A massage is great, but an Aromatherapy Massage is even better! By adding essential oils to a massage oil or lotion, the massage can take on a new dimension of therapeutic possibilities. For example, to help combat respiratory problems like coughing and congestion, add a bit of Eucalyptus Essential Oil to your carrier oil. To help relieve stress and tension, Lavender Essential Oil is a good choice. The list could go on and on, and the only way to really learn about them is to begin using them. The use of Essential Oils also makes the massage experience even more pleasant! All that's needed to start is to add a little Essential Oil to your base vegetable oil. Try just a few drops at first, you can always add if you want to increase the strength. A great beginning group of oils for any massage therapist would be; Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Orange, Rosemary, Lemon, and Geranium. After becoming familiar with a few oils, you will find it a pleasure to periodically add to your choices!


Relax and enjoy an Aromatherapy Bath by adding a few drops of your favorite Essential Oils! Fill the tub with warm water, then add your oil just prior to your entering. You might want to use your hand to stir the water a little. Close the doors to keep the aroma in the room while bathing. The warmth from the water will gently encourage the evaporation of the oil and envelope you in its aroma! It is delightful to notice the different "levels" of the oil as it evaporates.

Try adding the soft light of candles to set an even more relaxing mood. An Aromatherapy Bath is also a loving gift that you can give someone!

For extra moisturizing, combine Essential Oils with a Carrier Oil, such as, Sweet Almond or Jojoba before adding to the bath. Jojoba is an excellent choice for making a bath oil since it does not leave a "bath-tub ring." Use about 5-10% Essential Oil in your Carrier Oil. This is a good idea if you prefer to use "spicy" Essential Oils, like Cinnamon or Clove, since they could be irritating to sensitive skin.


With a drop or two of Essential Oil on your palms, rub them together to produce a little heat, then cup your nose and inhale. The Essential Oils can either be neat (undiluted), or diluted in a carrier oil. It is advisable to dilute the oils to prevent any irritation to sensitive skin. Inhalation is excellent to use for a short quick burst of aroma!


Take advantage of the cleansing nature of a sauna or steam room by using essential oils. A convenient and recommended method is to dilute several drops of essential oil in a small spray bottle filled with water. Spray on the rocks, in the air, or even on your body! Essential oils, like Eucalyptus or Niaouli, are excellent to use in a sauna to help clear respiratory congestion. Use some caution since most essential oils are flammable.


Add a few drops of essential oil to the basin of water. Dip a folded cloth into the water then ring out any excess before applying to the affected area. Please note that heat will intensify the affect of essential oils.

Facial Steam

Excellent for facial skin care and for the respiratory tract. Place a few drops of essential oil into a basin of steaming water. Gently stir the water to disperse the oil. Place a towel over the basin and your head. Move your face over the aromatic steam with your eyes closed. Breathe deeply and let the aromatic steam open and cleanse the pores of your skin!

Environmental Fragrancing

There are several ways to enjoy the aroma of essential oils in your home and office. From a simple light bulb ring to the more sophisticated nebulizer units. Using essential oil aroma is a more healthful way to fragrance any room and offers an alternative to the use of synthetic aromatic chemicals. In addition to the aroma, the oils can be selected to enhance a mood or stimulate a discussion. Diffusing lavender before bedtime is a wonderful way to relax and prepare for a good night's sleep. Rosemary and lemon are more energizing and can help you stay awake while cramming for an exam. Jasmine and YlangYlang tend to heighten the feelings of love and romance! Use your imagination and have fun exploring many different oils and combinations.

First Aid

Many essential oils have some very practical applications. Lavender is known to reduce the pain and swelling of small burns. We keep a bottle in the kitchen in case we touch a hot pan. Tea tree is excellent first-aid for cuts or bites to avoid infection. Canker sores often disappear overnight after applying a drop of tea tree oil. Peppermint oil is an excellent choice to rub on the back of your neck if you have a tension headache. It is also useful to cool "hot flashes" and reduce nausea.

Natural Perfumes

Essential Oils and Absolutes are Nature's Perfume. The aroma from a Natural Perfume is fresh and alive, and has the added therapeutic benefits associated with your personal choice of oil. For example, the Essential Oil of Rose is hormonally balancing and promotes a sense of well being and confidence. Of course, there are a few oils that could be worn as "single notes", but the joy of blending can create a fragrance that is personal and powerful. Sandalwood is a lovely base note to blend the more exquisite florals, like Rose, Jasmine or Tuberose. This actually creates what are known as "Attars." After combining the Essential Oils into a personal Natural Perfume, many people add Jojoba Oil. This helps to extend the use of your perfume and it can be applied directly to the skin without being too strong, or irritating. Jojoba is a good choice to use with Natural Perfumes because it will not go rancid like a vegetable oil carrier will do.

Many thanks and acknowledgement to:



Aromatherapy Glossary

Absolute - A Solvent Extracted Oil, rather than Steam Distilled. Solvent Extraction is the only practical way to obtain the aromatic material from many of the most delicate florals, such as jasmine, tuberose and narcissus. Absolutes are often colored since they retain more of the less volatile molecules. While there use in Aromatherapy is sometimes debated, they are prized by perfumers and provide a rich and lasting aroma when worn.
Acute - Typically a short term result of a chronic, or long-term, problem. We generally heed an acute symptom fairly quickly. You might think of this as the proverbial "whack on the side of the head" to get our attention if we have been ignoring a chronic and unhealthy situation in our life. Sooner or later, chronic problems become acute, so it is best to maintain awareness of the more subtle clues that your body may be giving you to signal changes that need to take place. Essential Oils are able to work on a more subtle and long term level than many conventional medical approaches. This makes Aromatherapy a valuable compliment in treating many of the ailments which plague our modern society.

Adaptogenic - The ability of an oil, or other substance, to benefit in seemingly contradictory ways, yet exerting an influence to return the body to its natural state of health. For example, lavender is known to be able to relax the body and mind and is helpful with insomnia, yet lavender is also uplifting and refreshing to a mind that is depressed and lethargic. This ability to interact with the body to assist in the most meaningful and healthful way is an indication of their intelligence and value to mankind.

Adulteration - Due to the high cost of many Essential Oils, the practice of adulteration is tempting for some manufacturers as an effort to either reduce their prices or increase their profits. It is impossible for a 1/2 oz of Jasmine to cost less than $10 unless it has been adulterated or diluted in some way. Melissa is another commonly adulterated oil. When adulteration is intentionally used to deceive an unsuspecting consumer, it is wrong.

Aphrodisiac - Many Essential Oils, either through their pleasurable aroma, or their affect on the hormonal/physical system, increase sexual desire. These oils are commonly referred to as aphrodisiacs. Some of the more well known aphrodisiacs are Jasmine, YlangYlang, Clary Sage, Sandalwood and Patchouli. Some of the less known aphrodisiacs include Black Pepper, Coriander, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Champaca.

Aromatherapy - The Art and Science of using Essential Oils to Relax, Balance and Stimulate the Body, Mind and Spirit!

Base Notes - These are the most tenacious aromatic components that are among the last to evaporate. They are much less volatile than their "top" or "middle" note counterparts. Aromatic base notes are the ones that you can still smell on your skin several hours after they were first applied. Therapeutically, they are the deepest workers, helping with longer term ailments of a more chronic nature.

Carrier Oil - Any vegetable oil that is used to "carry" the Essential Oils. Since Essential Oils should be diluted for use in Bath and Massage, a carrier oil is used. The carrier oils themselves can be selected for their therapeutic benefits. Avoid Mineral and Petroleum based oils.

Chronic - An ailment that develops over a period of time and tends to be ever present, but is sometimes easy to overlook and just "live with." Many of todays health concerns are brought about through chronic type problems, such as stress. Physical problems that result from chronic situations can sometimes only be treated through a longer term healing process that most often include lifestyle changes to reduce the cause of the ailment.

Cineol - A fairly common component in many different Essential Oils. It is characterized by the penetrating, often cool, aroma reminiscent of vaporizing rubs. Oils with a high cineol component are useful for respiratory complaints, such as coughing, catarhh and congestion. Eucalyptus oil is among the most common of cineol-type oils, yet there are many others, such as Niaouli, extra, Cajeput and Ravensara that are very high in cineol.

Cold Pressed - Vegetable Carrier Oils are extracted by pressing the seeds to release their oil. Sometimes the process of "expressing" the oil from the peels of citrus fruit is also called "cold pressing."

Concrete - The richly aromatic compound made up of the plant oils and waxes extracted from plant material, usually high class florals, through the solvent extraction process. Concretes can be worn as perfume. In order to make an absolute, the heavier molecules of the plant waxes are separated from the lighter oils using alcohol. Then the alcohol is distilled off, leaving the liquid absolute.

Dilution - Essential Oils are not usually recommended to be used "neat" (undiluted) on the skin; therefore, they need to be diluted in an appropriate "carrier." The carriers are often vegetable oils, but may also be alcohol, as in the case of Eau de Colognes or Eau de Toilette. If labeled correctly, diluted Essential Oils are not to be considered "adulterated.

Enfleurage - A process of extracting the aromatic compounds from delicate flowers and blossoms. The traditional method is to place a layer of aromatic plant material between two layers of pork fat. The fat draws the aromatic substance from the plants and adding new plant material, the fat becomes laden with the aroma. The fat is then dissolved with alcohol which separates the fat from the oil, then the alcohol is distilled off, leaving the absolute created from the process of enfleurage. This is a much more labor intensive process than the more common extraction process involving solvents.

Expectorant - Promoting the clearing of congestion from the sinus and chest area. Essential Oils with a high cineol content, ie. eucalyptus, niaouli, ravensara and cajeput, have expectorant qualities. Also balsamic wood oils, such as cedar, fir and even sandalwood have this quality. Oils with this property are an excellent alternative to petroleum based salves.

Expression - Most citrus oils are the result of expressing the fruit rind or peel. The peels are macerated (shred) and mixed with water, then pressed. This releases the oil from the pockets within the peel and the oil flows out along with the water. The oil is then separated and any solids are filtered out.

Fixative - An oil that is able to slow the evaporation of the more volatile oils. Fixative oils are usually base notes in a blend and perform the valuable function of creating a longer lasting, harmonious aroma.

Floral Water - The recondensed water that has risen as steam through the aromatic plant material during distillation. This water is aromatic and contains the water soluable nutrients from the plant. They are also called Hydrosols, or Hydrolates, and should not be confused with a manufactured "floral water," which is a combination of purified water, aromatic essence and some form of emulsifier. Pure Floral Waters are an excellent addition to any skin care program, assisting in hydrating and toning the skin. Spray or splash floral water on your skin before applying a skin care oil. The oil applied over your skin moistened by the floral water will hold that moisture in the skin, helping to alleviate dryness. There are recipes that use floral waters for cooking. A little splash of Peppermint, or Neroli floral water in your ice water on a hot summer day is particularly refreshing!

Infusion - The process of soaking plant material in a carrier oil to release the soluble constituents into the carrier oil. This is often done with Marigold (Calendula) and St Johnswort; however, there are many more types of infusions becoming available for a variety of purposes.

Insomnia - The inability to sleep when your body needs to rest. Oftentimes this is caused by too much stress and tension in our lives. The Essential Oil of Lavender has been proven to assist in quieting the mind and body to allow for sleep and could provide insomniacs with some welcome relief!

Middle Note - These are the oils, or aromatic components within the oils, that are neither the first, nor the last to evaporate. They form the middle, or body, of the aroma. An example of a middle note Essential Oil is Lavender.

Olfaction - The physiological process of smelling. Your olfactory sense is the sense of smell. This process begins when aromatic molecules stimulate the receptors within the nose and a signal is sent through the olfactory bulb, which is located between the eyes above the nose, then on to the limbic system. It is through our nose that our Central Nervous System actually has direct contact with the external environment. Certain aromas, particularly chemical and synthetic, can give us a headache in that area. This happens when the olfactory bulb is overstimulated and attempts block those aromatic impulses from reaching our limbic system. Since the olfactory cells are constantly regenerating, our sense of smell can become either more acute, or more deadened, depending in large part to the environments our noses are in! After many years of smelling Pure Essential Oils, the sense of smell becomes very trained and is able to distinguish subtleties that many people simply cannot smell. Those who have developed this ability are called "The Nose" in companies that deal with aromatic materials. The Nose is able to distinguish the region that an oil comes from and maybe even the year it was produced!

Percolation - A different form of distillation where the steam is forced from the top down through the aromatic plant material, rather than rising from beneath the material.

Photosensitizing - This is something that increases your skin's sensitivity to the harmful affects of the sun. The bergaptene in Bergamot Peel oil is photosensitizing so its use should be avoided prior to being out in the sun.

Single Note - The pure and unblended Essential Oil from a single plant.

Synergy - A combination of Essential Oil "Single Notes" that when balanced correctly provide an even greater therapeutic or aromatic benefit than each of the Essential Oils could provide alone. This embodies the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts!

Tonic - A remedy with general strengthening and fortifying qualities. Tonics are excellent to use for prevention, in addition to assisting the body back to health.

Top Note - The most volatile aromatic molecules that evaporate quickly. They are the ones that you smell first and do no last as long as the middle and base notes. Therapeutically they are fast acting and help relieve short term, more acute problems. Since they do tend to evaporate so quickly, they are often combined with a fixative that slows their release into the air.

Toxicity - Much of the information regarding the toxicity of Essential Oils is passed along from research that may or may not have been done with Essential Oils themselves. However, with the lack of better information, it is probably wise to exercise caution with oils that are considered toxic. The affects of toxicity from Essential Oils are of a longer term nature and do not manifest themselves immediately. Our bodies have the natural ability to rid itself of toxins, yet if a toxin is repeatedly brought into the body it can break down our natural systems and cause a build-up of any harmful substance. To be safe, only use toxic oils sparingly and do not use them continuously over long periods of time.

Viscosity - A common term used to describe the thickness of an Essential Oil. There is a precise measuring scale employed to rate an oil's viscosity; however, it will probably suffice to know that the higher the viscosity of an oil, the more liquid it is. Water is a high viscosity liquid, as opposed to molasses, which is very low viscosity.

Volatile - The characteristic of an Essential Oil to evaporate. The more volatile an oil is, the more quickly it will evaporate!


Aromatherapy and Your Immune System

January 2004

President's Letter
Happy New Year to all our Aroma friends.

It seems hard to believe that we're already into 2004. 100 years ago, in 1904, my grandmother got married. I think of this and wonder is "ignorance bliss?" What would she have done if she had known that she would be bringing up a large family on a low income, with no welfare, no antibiotics, very few doctors, no electricity and would be living through two world wars? And yet she always appeared to be a cheerful and happy person.

I'm very glad I was born in this era of choices, and even though I don't always make the right decisions, I am thankful for the ability to make them. However I can't help but wonder if all this choice is a good thing because sometimes it makes things more stressful. Long ago our life was predestined for us and we had little to decide on our own. It now appears we have created some of the stress related illnesses that kill. Science is now looking to the past to natural ingredients and remedies to help cure our 'futuristic' ills. For instance, statistics show that more and more people are prone to panic attacks and tend to carry paper bags with them to treat hyperventilation. We suggest adding a cotton ball with a drop of lavender to it.

So here we stand, poised on the brink of a brand New Year. Now is the time to make changes to our own lives to help improve our health and our happiness - I know I will be doing just that.

In keeping with this month's theme, I've been noticing that alternative methods of healing are enjoying increasing popularity. Today's scientists are attempting to supply the demand for proof of what these natural products are capable of. I believe we need to fully understand aromatherapy in order to use it to its full potential but that's a topic for another newsletter.

Thank you to those of you who emailed us with feedback and suggestions. I particularly liked the idea of colouring the newspaper for wrapping gifts (some Christmas papers and bows are not recyclable) and we tried out some versions of the games that were suggested to us at our staff Christmas Party with great results!

Please keep your thoughts and ideas coming. We love to hear from you and look forward to hearing more!

So here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to you all. Here's hoping 2004 is your best 'you' year ever!

Barb Greenwood

President & CEO

Bacteria, Viruses, Essential Oils and You

Within our bodies we have perhaps 100 trillion cells. Each of these cells has a nucleus to give it the energy it needs to complete the job it was created to do. Without a doubt we are amazing and complex machines. So much of what our bodies do for us happens without our conscious knowledge or thought.

Bacteria are single celled organisms that have no nucleus and are perhaps 1/100th the size of a human cell. They are completely independent organisms with the capacity to eat and reproduce. Under the right conditions bacteria can reproduce very quickly, conceivably dividing once every 20 or 30 minutes. With that thought in mind, you can see how quickly one singular bacterium could become millions in a very short period of time.

A virus is completely different in that it is not considered to be alive. It is a fragment of DNA in a protective coat. When it comes across a cell, it attaches itself to the cell wall and injects its DNA into the cell. The DNA uses what is present in the cell, turning it into a factory to reproduce new virus particles. Once the virus kills off the overtaken cell it bursts, releasing these deviant virus cells into the body to wreck further havoc.

Almost every essential oil used in aromatherapy is helpful to the immune system, either directly or indirectly (psychotherapeutic). Some of the more well known beneficial essential oils are listed below:

For fighting bacterial infection: Lavender (Lavendula angustifolium), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), Rosemary (Rosemarinus officianalis), and Tea Tree (Melaleuca angustifolium).

For protecting against viral infections: Garlic (Allium sativum), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata), Marjoram (Origanum marjorama), and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia).

For increasing the activity of white blood cells to help fight infection: Frankincense (Boswellia thurifera), Lavender (Lavendula angustifolium) and Rosemary (Rosemarinus officianalis).

To help the body detoxify: Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), Juniper (Juniperus communis), and Rose Otto (Rosa damascena).

To help heal wounds: Lavender (Lavendula angustifolium), Frankincense (Boswellia thurifera), Marjoram (Origanum marjorama), and Rosemary (Rosemarinus officianalis).

List taken from The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy by Chrissie Wildwood.

Info from:

Green Valley Aromatherapy



It is said that not only do aromatherapy oils have a beneficial effect on the skin to which they are applied, but they may penetrate down to organ level. In addition, the scent of the oils has an effect on the body's hypothalmus, the part of the brain which influences the hormone system, affecting moods, metabolism, stress levels and libido. Aromatherapy is often used in conjunction with massage, promoting a sense of well being, enhanced by the different properties of certain oils which have been chosen by the aromatherapist to treat the client's individual needs and conditions. Massage will also stimulate the lymph system which encourages the body to eliminate toxins - a health benefit in itself.


Humble as flowers and plants may seem, their essential oils are a storehouse of extraordinary medicinal and therapeutic power known to the ancient cultures of China and Egypt and first introduced to Europe by the Crusaders in the Middle Ages. Most recently, it has been the French who have explored the possibilities of essential oils, creating what is modern aromatherapy.

What to Expect

A trained aromatherapist will always precede any treatment with an in-depth consultation, asking various lifestyle questions and ascertaining what it is you want to achieve: this could be improvement of a health problem, or to counter any anxieties you may have, or simply to enjoy an all-round tonic. It is vital that the aromatherapist knows if you are pregnant, epileptic, or have high blood pressure or any other ongoing medical condition. Your therapist will also need to know about any medication you may be taking. For aromatherapy massage, you may be asked to remove clothing down to underwear and depending on the type of treatment agreed with the therapist, to sit or lie on a couch. Towels are always provided and respect for your personal space is a prerequisite.In addition to working on the body, the face may be included. Aromatherapy oils are widely available (follow instructions carefully), and can be used at home for massage, in baths, or as inhalations.

Training & Colleges

Accreditation is usually the result of approximately 180 hours' study at a college, often in conjunction with training in anatomy and physiology. This is approximately 9 months study plus 50 supervised treatment hours. Qualifications are usually awarded by the individual training establishment and on presentation of this to the accrediting body the therapist may gain membership of the relevant association. For instance SPCertA is a Shirley Price Aromatherapy Certificate. The holder may then join the ISPA, the accrediting association.

National/International Organizations

U.S.: Aromatherapy Plant Project - U.S.: Aromatherapy Registration Council - U.S.: National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy

Worldwide: International Society for Professional Aromatherapists - Australia: International Federation of Aromatherapists

Canada (British Columbia) Association of Practicing Aromatherapists - Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists

Czech Aromatherapy Association  - Japanese Aromatherapy Association -  Korean Aroma Association - Mexican Association for

 the Investigation & Practice of Aromatherapy - United Kingdom Aromatherapy & Allied Practitioners Association - 

United Kingdom: Aromatherapy Organizations Council -  United Kingdom: International Federation of Aromatherapists

United Kingdom: The Aromatherapy Organisations Council

Practitioner Databases

U.S.: Aromatherapy Registration Council Register

Worldwide (Mostly Europe & Japan): International Federation of Aromatherapists Member Director

Aromatherapy & Allied Practitioner's Association UK (AAPA)

Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists

International Federation of Aromatherapists Australia

Information from:

Holistic UK


Research Articles and Abstracts:


Effect of aromatherapy on pruritus relief in hemodialysis patients. 


Shahgholian N, Dehghan M, Mortazavi M, Gholami F, Valiani M.


Department of Medical Surgical Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran.



Pruritus is one of the commonest problems in patients with end-stage renal failure undergoing hemodialysis. Pruritus is an irritating symptom which can directly affect the life quality of patients with chronic renal failure. However, available treatments have failed to relieve the symptom and kidney transplant remains the definite treatment of the problem. A recently proposed treatment for pruritus is the use of complementary medicine. Thus, the aim of this research is to study the effect of aromatherapy on pruritus relief in hemodialysis patients.


The study is a pre- and post-clinical trial, carried out in dialysis centers of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in 2009. Sample was performed using convenient sampling method and the participants were selected from among the patient who received hemodialysis three times a week for 3-5 hours and had pruritus scores above 3. All the participants received seven minutes of hand massage in the non-fistulated hand with 3-5 ml of lavender, mint, and tea tree oils at 5% concentration for six sessions (two weeks). The data of the study were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics by SPSS software, version 16.


Twenty patients with end-stage renal failure who had pruritus fulfilled the course of the study. Data analysis indicated that aromatherapy significantly relieved pruritus (p < 0.05).


Aromatherapy can significantly relieve pruritus in hemodialysis patients. 



Effect of aromatherapy on the quality of sleep in ischemic heart disease patients hospitalized in intensive care units of heart hospitals of the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.


Moeini M, Khadibi M, Bekhradi R, Mahmoudian SA, Nazari F.


Faculty Member, Department of Surgical Nursing Midwifery, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran.

KEY WORDS: Aromatherapy, sleep, ischemic heart disease



Sleep disorder is one of the common problems patients face in ICU and CCU and it is usually treated by sleeping pills. Nowadays, the complementary medicine is highly considered because of its effectiveness and safety.Aromatherapy is one of the holistic nursing cares which sees human beings as a biological, mental and social unit while the psychological dimension has the central role. Each of these dimensions is dependent on each other and is affected by each other. Therefore, it is fundamental for nurses to provide aromatherapy in their clinical performance. Aromatherapy helps treatment of diseases by using vegetable oils and it seems to be effective in reducing sleeplessness.


This was a clinical trial on 64 patients (male and female) hospitalized in CCU in Al-zahra and Chamran hospitals. The intervention included 3 nights, each time 9 hours aromatherapy with lavender oil for the experiment group, while the controls received no intervention. Both groups filled out the SMHSQ that includes 11 items to assess sleep quality before and after intervention.


Data analysis showed that the mean scores of sleep quality in the two groups of experiment and control were significantly different after the aromatherapy with lavender oil (p < 0.001).


Quality of sleep in ischemic heart disease patients was significantly improved after aromatherapy with lavender oil. Therefore, using aromatherapy can improve the quality of their sleep and health. 

PubMed Central


Reducing the symptoms of lymphedema: Is there a role for aromatherapy?

Barclay J, Vestey J, Lambert A, Balmer C.

Apr 10 2006

Dorset Cancer Centre, Poole Hospital, Longfleet Road, Poole BH15 2JB, UK.

Lymphedema is a chronic and debilitating condition caused by lymphatic insufficiency, which may have serious physical, social and psychological implications for the patient. It is usually managed by a combination of strategies aimed at protecting and decongesting the oedematous limb(s) and stimulating the development of supplementary lymphatic pathways to control swelling in the long-term. However, it is not known which therapies are the most effective. Anecdotally, the addition of aromatherapy oils to massage cream may have a positive effect on symptom relief in people with cancer, although evidence is again lacking. This paper describes a randomized trial of self-massage and skin care using a cream containing aromatherapy oils versus self-massage and skin care using a cream without aromatherapy oils on objective limb volume measurements and symptom relief as measured by the Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile 2 (MYMOP2) in a sample of people with lymphedema. Results indicate that self-massage and skin care significantly improved patient-identified symptom relief and well being for this sample. It also slightly, but not significantly reduced limb volume. However, aromatherapy oils, carefully chosen on the basis that they should benefit this group, did not appear to influence any improvement in these measures.

*Original article in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing*



Using massage in the relief of lymphedema.

Prof Nurse. 1996 Jan

Kirshbaum M.

Lymphoedema of the arm is a complication of treatment for breast cancer. The condition often causes discomfort, reduced movement and changes in body image. Massage is one of the cornerstones of treatment. Aromatherapy massage is relaxing, increases patient comfort and promotes a therapeutic relationship between nurse and patient.

PMID: 8552700 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


External Links and Resources:


The effect of lavender aromatherapy on autonomic nervous system in midlife women with insomnia. 2012


Aromatherapy massage on the abdomen for alleviating menstrual pain in high school girls: a preliminary controlled clinical study. 2012


Examination of the Effectiveness of Peppermint Aromatherapy on Nausea in Women Post C-Section 2011


The use of aromatherapy to improve self-esteem 



Aroma-therapeutic effects of massage blended essential oils on humans. 

Aug 2011


Aromatherapy for pain management in labour. 

Jul 2011


Aromatherapy Internet Resources


Contraindications for the Use of Aromatherapy


Complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of anxiety and depression


Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins


Holistic foundations of aromatherapy for nursing. 

Jan 2008

Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins


Olfactory influences on mood and autonomic, endocrine, and immune function

April 2008



The use of aromatherapy to treat behavioural problems in dementia.


Wiley InterScience


Expectancies, not aroma, explain impact of lavender aromatherapy on psychophysiological indices of relaxation in young healthy women.

Sept 2007



Relaxation effects of lavender aromatherapy improve coronary flow velocity reserve in healthy men evaluated by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography.

Aug 2007



Treatment with lavender aromatherapy in the post-anesthesia care unit reduces opioid requirements of morbidly obese patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.

July 2007



Aromatherapy in childbirth: a pilot randomised controlled trial.

July 2007

Blackwell Synergy


Evaluation of aromatherapy in treating postoperative pain: pilot study

Dec 2006

Blackwell Synergy


Aromatherapy and reducing preprocedural anxiety: A controlled prospective study. 

Nov-Dec 2006

Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins


Evaluating the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing levels of anxiety in palliative care patients: results of a pilot study.

May 2006



Inhalation aromatherapy during radiotherapy: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial.

June 2003

Journal of Clinical Oncology


Index of articles for  Lymphedema Treatment :

Lymphedema Treatment


Acupuncture Treatment

Aqua Therapy for Postsurgical Breast Cancer Arm Lymphedema

Aqua Therapy in Managing Lower Extremity Lymphedema

Artificial Lymph Nodes

Artificial Lymphatic System

Auricular Therapy

Ball Massage technique

Compression Bandages for Lymphedema

Benzopyrones Treatment

Chi Machine

Choosing a Rehabilitation Provider or Physical Therapist

Complex Decongestive Therapy

Complications of Lymphedema Debulking Surgery

Compression Garments Stockings for Lymphedema

Compression Pumps for Lymphedema Treatment

Coumarin powder/ointment

Craniosacral Therapy

Daflon 500 and Secondary Lymphedema

Deep Oscillation Therapy

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diuretics are not for lymphedema

Endermologie Therapy

Essential Oils

Elastin Ampules

Farrow Wrap

Flexitouch Device - Initial Observations

Flexitouch Device for Arm Lymphedema


How to Choose a Lymphedema Therapist

How to be Safe with Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Infrared Therapy for Lymphedema

Kinesio Taping (R)

Kinesiology Therapy

Laser Treatment

Laser Treatment - Sara's Experience

Light Beam Generator Therapy

Liposuction Treatment

Low Level Laser

Lymph Node Transplant

Lymphatic venous anastomoses

Lymphedema Treatment Programs Canada

Lymphedema Sleeves

Lymphedema Surgeries

Lymphedema Treatments are Poorly Utilized


Lymphocyte injection therapy


Magnetic Therapy

Manual Lymphatic Drainage



Naturopathy: A Critical Appraisal

Patient self-massage for breast cancer-related lymphedema

Reflexology Therapy

Self Massage Therapy – Self MLD

Short Stretch Bandages


Wholistic Treatment

Treatment Information for Lymphedema Forum

Why Compression Pumps cause Complications with Lymphedema


Join us as we work for lymphedema patients everywehere:

Advocates for Lymphedema

Dedicated to be an advocacy group for lymphedema patients. Working towards education, legal reform, changing insurance practices, promoting research, reaching for a cure.


Pat O'Connor

Lymphedema People / Advocates for Lymphedema


For information about Lymphedema\

For Information about Lymphedema Complications

For Lymphedema Personal Stories

For information about How to Treat a Lymphedema Wound

For information about Lymphedema Treatment

For information about Exercises for Lymphedema

For information on Infections Associated with Lymphedema

For information on Lymphedema in Children

Lymphedema Glossary


Lymphedema People - Support Groups


Children with Lymphedema

The time has come for families, parents, caregivers to have a support group of their own. Support group for parents, families and caregivers of chilren with lymphedema. Sharing information on coping, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. Sponsored by Lymphedema People.



Lipedema Lipodema Lipoedema

No matter how you spell it, this is another very little understood and totally frustrating conditions out there. This will be a support group for those suffering with lipedema/lipodema. A place for information, sharing experiences, exploring treatment options and coping.

Come join, be a part of the family!




If you are a man with lymphedema; a man with a loved one with lymphedema who you are trying to help and understand come join us and discover what it is to be the master instead of the sufferer of lymphedema.



All About Lymphangiectasia

Support group for parents, patients, children who suffer from all forms of lymphangiectasia. This condition is caused by dilation of the lymphatics. It can affect the intestinal tract, lungs and other critical body areas.



Lymphatic Disorders Support Group @ Yahoo Groups

While we have a number of support groups for lymphedema... there is nothing out there for other lymphatic disorders. Because we have one of the most comprehensive information sites on all lymphatic disorders, I thought perhaps, it is time that one be offered.


Information and support for rare and unusual disorders affecting the lymph system. Includes lymphangiomas, lymphatic malformations, telangiectasia, hennekam's syndrome, distichiasis, Figueroa
syndrome, ptosis syndrome, plus many more. Extensive database of information available through sister site Lymphedema People.



Lymphedema People New Wiki Pages

Have you seen our new “Wiki” pages yet?  Listed below are just a sample of the more than 140 pages now listed in our Wiki section. We are also working on hundred more.  Come and take a stroll! 

Lymphedema Glossary 


Arm Lymphedema 

Leg Lymphedema 

Acute Lymphedema 

The Lymphedema Diet 

Exercises for Lymphedema 

Diuretics are not for Lymphedema 

Lymphedema People Online Support Groups 



Lymphedema and Pain Management 

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT) 

Infections Associated with Lymphedema 

How to Treat a Lymphedema Wound 

Fungal Infections Associated with Lymphedema 

Lymphedema in Children 


Magnetic Resonance Imaging 

Extraperitoneal para-aortic lymph node dissection (EPLND) 

Axillary node biopsy

Sentinel Node Biopsy

 Small Needle Biopsy - Fine Needle Aspiration 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging 

Lymphedema Gene FOXC2

 Lymphedema Gene VEGFC

 Lymphedema Gene SOX18

 Lymphedema and Pregnancy

Home page: Lymphedema People

Page Updated: Jan. 2, 2012