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Aromatherapy for Migraines and Headaches

Using essential oils to complement Migraine and headache treatments

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

Aromatherapy is often called an "alternative therapy. Based on my experience, I would prefer to call aromatherapy a "complementary therapy," one that can be used in conjunction with other therapies, including headache and Migraine medications. Each person should, of course, check with their own physician, but mine advised me that he felt it was a safe complementary therapy for me.

What IS Aromatherapy?
Simply stated, aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils extracted from plants for both physiological and psychological treatment. Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that began when people of early civilizations began discovering the healing properties of plants.

The term "aromatherapy" was first used by René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist in 1928. Gattefossé was working in his family's 0perfumier business when he accidentally discovered that lavender caused a severe burn on his hand to heal more rapidly and without scarring. Another of his observations was that essential oils in their whole state were more effective than synthetics or any of the isolated active ingredients of the oils. Another French scientist, Dr. Jean Valnet used essential oils to successfully treat both medical and psychiatric disorders. The first actual aromatherapy clinics were established in Paris, Britain, and Switzerland by Madame Marguerite Maury.2

Essential Oils
Essential oils are not oils as we generally think of them. Most essential oils have a very light texture and evaporate quickly. Essential oils are found in all the various parts of plants including the bark, roots, leaves, flowers, seed, wood, resin, and balsam. Some plants produce rather large quantities of oil, some have very low content. Take for example one of the most popular oils, rose. There is so little aromatic content in rose flowers that it a ton of petals produces only 10.5 ounces (300g) of rose oil. It's important to note that essential oils should virtually never be applied directly to the skin until mixed in a carrier oil. Carrier oils are pure gentle oils, such as sweet almond oil and apricot kernel oil that "carry" the essence to the skin.

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