How Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Can Help You Cope With Cancer

Author: Base Formula

Introduction to Aromatherapy

Coping with cancer is extremely frightening and confusing, not just for the person diagnosed but also for their immediate family and close friends. Many people affected by cancer turn to aromatherapy as it is something that they can do for themselves to help lift their spirits and improve their quality of life.

Aromatherapy is the use of therapeutic essential oils, derived from certain plants, (flowers, herbs or trees) to help improve physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It is one of the most popular complementary therapies used by cancer patients as research suggests that it can help relieve some of the anxiety, pain, depression and stress associated with cancer and its treatments. Although there is no supporting scientific evidence it is also thought that aromatherapy can help to reduce the nausea and sickness associated with certain cancer treatments, help support the immune system and fight off infection, help improve circulation, digestion and urine output and relieve headaches and insomnia.

Essential Oils to help support those affected by cancer

Please note that it is not advisable to use essential oils while you are actively receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy unless it has been approved by your doctor. You should not use any aromatherapy oil without seeking advice from a qualified aromatherapist.

Essential oils can be used in the bath or in an aromatherapy oil burner or diffuser, but they are most commonly used in conjunction with massage. Aromatherapy massage can be extremely comforting and can help ease pain, tension, anxiety, and stress. It is usually advised not to massage over the site of the cancer or over the site receiving radiotherapy treatment.

Calming and soothing essential oils

For a soothing massage blend try Frankincense, Geranium and Green Mandarin. Frankincense regulates and slows the breathing, helps to control feelings of panic and encourages a calmer, meditative state. Geranium essential oil helps to balance the emotions and provides a soothing, floral aroma, whilst Green Mandarin gently lifts the spirits and counteracts the overwhelming fatigue. Mix up to 12 drops of these essential oils into 15mls of a base oil such as Sweet Almond Oil or Grapeseed Oil.

Essential oils for pain relief

Aromatherapy can be used in conjunction with conventional drugs as it has no side effects. Lavender is the best known pain-relieving essential oil. It can be used in any of the following ways:-

  • Add 4 -10 drops to the bath after it has finished running. For children or individuals with sensitive skin mix the essential oil with a tablespoonful of milk first to help the oil to disperse fully into the water.
  • Mix 2 drops of Lavender essential oil into a tablespoon of Sweet Almond Oil and massage into the affected area or the back (remember is it usually not advisable to massage over the site of the cancer or over a radiotherapy treatment area).
  • Place a couple of drops of Lavender on your pillow at night, or on a hanky. This will not only help relieve pain but will also help you to get a more restful night\'s sleep.
  • Place 4 drops an Aromatherapy oil burner or diffuser.

Essential oils to combat fatigue

Chemotherapy can leave you feeling extremely tired. If your consultant approves you could try using stimulating essential oils such as Lime to boost your energy levels and combat that ‘tired all the time feeling\'. Other stimulating essential oils that are safe to use are Peppermint, Grapefruit and Basil.

Essential oils to relieve nausea

Chemotherapy treatment can often cause nausea but there is a psychosomatic element to how badly it affects an individual from one day to the next. This explains why some days are worse than others and why some people are less debilitated when they are distracted in some way. To help relieve nausea we recommend the following essential oils:-

  • Peppermint can be effective for some people, however for some, it has the opposite effect.
  • Citrus essential oils are also helpful for treating nausea. Lime is particularly useful as it has the added benefit of relieving the overwhelming fatigue that is associated with certain cancer treatments.
  • Another useful oil is Chamomile, which has a calming effect on the mind and body. In the language of flowers Chamomile stands for ‘patience in adversity\', and it is particularly recommended for people whose nausea is made worse by chronic worrying.
  • Other essential oils that can help ease the trauma of chemotherapy on mind and body include Spearmint, Palmarosa and May Chang. Use the oils in an aromatherapy oil burner or diffuser to benefit from their therapeutic aroma! 

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About the Author

Base Formula is a leading aromatherapy and essential oil supplier. We\'ve been supplying aromatherapists worldwide with premium grade essential oils, carrier oils, cosmetic bases and aromatherapy supplies since 1996. Our extensive aromatherapy range has everything you need for providing a range of professional beauty and holistic therapy treatments and also for making your own natural products. We are registered members of the Aromatherapy Trade Council and we are also the FHT\'s only approved aromatherapy supplier. Visit our website to view our full range and to find out more about all of the essential oils mentioned above. 

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