I am packing for Russia, and I am planning to give Mom massages with aromatherapy, first of all, to help her rest, second of all, to relieve pain, and third of all, to improve immune system. I am doing research so I could buy the needed oils.
Alternative Medicine for Immune System Strengthening
Aromatherapy has a broad range of application in immune system support because virtually every essential oil in therapeutic use is active against one or more bacteria, and almost all of them stimulate production of white blood cells. It has been found that people who use essential oils regularly have a high level of resistance to illness. They catch fewer colds and other diseases and recover quickly if they do.
Essential oils support and strengthen the immune response by two different ways:
- By directly opposing the threatening micro-organisms
- By increasing the activity of the organs and cells that fight them.
Other Essential oils Useful for immunity:
Rosemary and Geranium support the adrenal glands and stimulate the lymphatic system.
Black Pepper and Lavender strengthen the spleen.
If your immune system is depleted, aromatherapy treatment should be continued for at least a month. This will help bringing the micro-organisms in the body under control, repairing the immune system and strengthening the immune system to withstand from further attack.
Here's a list of popular oils that address some common problems, as well as those common among people in treatment for cancer...
- Lavender. Great as a general relaxant, it also treats migraines and relieves stress. It is excellent for insomnia resulting from cancer treatment.
- Rosemary. For muscle pain, low blood pressure (do not use if you have uncontrolled or high blood pressure) and cold feet and hands. Rosemary aids a loss of appetite.
- Spearmint. Used to ease nausea and to help digestion. Also can help ease gas and other treatment-related digestive problems.
- Eucalyptus or peppermint. For rubbing on sore muscles. Eucalyptus may also help joints, including arthritic ones. Eucalyptus may increase the absorption of certain cancer drugs that are applied topically, so use caution and try a patch test first, avoiding application to the same area as the cancer drug.
- Pink grapefruit or juniper berry. Used with massage to encourage lymphatic drainage of toxins and waste. Pink grapefruit is one of Perez's favorites for cancer patients, as she believes it helps energize them and raise their spirits. This and all citrus-type oils should be avoided during chemo and radiation -- and should not be used until speaking with your doctor.
- Lemongrass, tea tree and orange. Mix together into two cups of Epso salts. Use five drops of each oil -- a total of 15 drops -- for a soothing bath (use one-half cup per bath). (Please note: Serious toxicity in avians can occur from topical exposure to teatree [melaleuca] oil.) *Please note that tea tree oil is toxic to all pets (birds, cats, dogs, etc.)
At the Fourth Wholistic Aromatherapy Conference on the Therapeutic Uses of Essential Oils in San Francisco in November of 2000, Dr. Bruce Berkowsky, founder/teacher of the Natural Health Science System™, gave a fascinating lecture on "Essential Oils and the Cancer Miasm". I found it absolutely intriguing considering my own experience with cancer and my studies in “energy work”.
Bruce Berkowsky states that a miasm is a reactional mode, or predisposition, to disease transmitted from generation to generation bioenergetically rather than by a genetic mechanism. (The word miasm comes from the Greek word miasma meaning stain, pollution or defilement) The themes of loss of control and inability to establish one’s personal identity are characteristic of the Cancer Miasm. Some of the primary essential oils found effective in treating this miasm are: angelica (Angelica archangelica); geranium (Pelargonium graveolens); lemon (Citrus limonum): pine (Pinus sylvestris).
Angelica and the Cancer Miasm
The following essential oils are well suited to treat the Cancer Miasm—they include: Angelica (Angelica archangelica), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), Ginger (Zingiber officinalis), Lemon (Citrus limonum), Neroli (Citrus aurantium), Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), Pine (Pinus sylvestris), and Violet leaf (Viola odorata). Most of these oils contain the chemical constituent Limonene and related terpenoids, which have been shown to prevent carcinogen-induced mammary cancer. .
Angelica (Angelica archangelica) is in the Umbelliferae family whose members have a strong affinity for the process of aeration, reaching out from the watery element from which they thrive and up into the airy element. Angelica is a water loving plant that is found growing near streams and rivers or wetlands. The root of the Angelica plant, in particular, has the strong affinity for water. The umbelliferaes tend to have hollow stems and stalks, inflated leaf sheaths and air-chambered rootstocks. Umbelliferae’s, angelica included, strive to bond with the realm of air - the medium of one of the three constituent elements of vital force: the astral body.
As plants are essentially etheric organisms whose formative forces are water-dependent, by reaching out to the airy element and becoming aerated, angelica draws from the astral plane (air) and incorporates it into its fluid nature. This feature of joining air and water / astral and etheric, is the foundation of angelica’s clinical benefits. Angelica’s essential oils are extracted from either the seeds or the roots of the angelica plant (for this discussion we will refer to the essence extracted from the root).
In anthroposophic science, the root of the plant, due to the diversity of its sensory functions, is associated with the human nerve-sense system and the metabolic limb system. As a root oil, angelica is believed to have very strong associations with both of these systems. It is through the root that the plant confronts the soil "universe". The root must discern the enormous menu of substances in the soil and choose or grasp the ones that it requires for its growth. This selectivity equates to the human consciousness facilitated by the nerve-sense organs of the head, because the head organ shows similar selectivity when sifting through the bombardment of incoming sensory data from the outer world (keep in mind, as earlier discussed, the astral body perceives and internalizes impressions from the external world, which are then given expression in the form of behavioral responses and choice of movement).
Furthermore, the roots’ ability to select or choose is based upon its sense of Self, as each plant will select different substances in accordance with its individuality as a plant organism. Similarly, the spirit and astral bodies of human beings are charged with establishing a consciousness of Self. The root of the plant absorbs mineral salts out of the earth and utilizes them for growth and nutrition. These salts permeate the plant and make it an earth organism. The human head can be compared to a hardened root, as it must process that which it chooses to consume or absorb. This absorption continues to initiate the process of solidification, and tissue contraction to elimination.
Root oils have obvious metabolic associations as well. They are actively involved in the processes of nutritional absorption, and the processes involved with the intake of fluid and hydration. The intestinal system is a type of “inner root” that draws nutrients and water into the blood. With Angelica’s dual air/water affinities, and its link to both upper and lower poles of the body (head and bowel), it lends great potential to integrate the nerve-sense forces (which depend upon air) into the metabolic processes which require a watery medium. Therefore, it may prove an exceptional treatment of mental exhaustion due to nutritional depletion as well as for a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms linked to the failure of the astral body to incarnate from the head into the metabolism. Indicators include indigestion, flatulence and nausea.
Looking at one of the major symptoms in the Cancer Miasm, loss of control, we see a dysfunctional relationship between the astral and etheric bodies. For some recipients, for example, angelica rehydrates or revives volatile emotions like exhaustion and anxiety, and aerates sodden ones such as moodiness, “heartache” and alcohol addiction. There is an element of violence in the animal nature of the astral body that makes its direct action on the physical body harsh and unfeasible and such actions can result in spasm, pain, tissue destruction and depletion. Therefore, the astral body’s passions and drives must be buffered by, and communicated through, the watery medium of the etheric body.
Angelica is noted as a medicine for gastric ulcers and colic—the former, due to astral passions expending themselves upon stomach tissue, and the latter, due to astral-induced intestinal spasms. As a balancer of air and water, angelica is not only beneficial for excesses of the astral body, but of the etheric body as well.
Again, when the astral body inadequately incarnates into the metabolism, the etheric forces are unchecked, thus, cellular overgrowth and loss of control of the fluid organism may occur. This becomes particularly evident in the glands which are primarily etheric organs. Angelica has proven to be very helpful for swelling, inflammation and swelling of the lymph nodes, especially of the head and neck region.
Angelica oil may also offer a way of responding to the bioenergetic aspect of cancers of the fluid organism such as leukemia and Hodgkin’s Disease, both of which involve lymphoid tissues and are characterized by etheric hyperproliferation and misguided astral behavior.
Massage and cancer
There is no research to prove the myth that massage can carry cancer cells throughout lymphatic tissue to other sites in the body, although it is recommended that deep tissue massage is not used on someone with cancer. Gentle aromatherapy massage is designed to relax and gently detoxify the body. In cases of localised cancer, it is perhaps best to avoid that area.
Obviously, a light, gentle massage within the client's pain threshold, given over a period of time that is suitable to the patient, is going to be beneficial rather than harmful. The lymphatic system is massaged slightly by muscular action of the body, and since simple, gentle massage would be no more stimulating to the body than ordinary, muscular action resulting from movement, then the results would be very similar. In other words, the likelihood of spreading cancer cells with gentle massage is no greater than with normal exercise.
The value of massage on a patient with cancer is enormous. The sense of touch is one of the most basic of human senses, and helps to create a feeling of being loved and comforted through the illness. When we talk about massaging somebody with cancer we generally assume whole body massage. It is usually advised never to massage over the site of the cancer or over an area receiving radiotherapy treatment and, if in doubt, just to massage one small part of the body. A simple hand massage or foot massage, for instance, can bring great stress relief and help the patient emotionally. It is important not to massage over the site of radiation because the skin is readily broken down. Areas affected by radiation should be avoided at all costs, and be allowed to repair naturally (Tisserand and Balacs 1995: 101-102).
Horrigan (1991) offers the opinion that surface massage will not make the cancer grow due an increased blood supply, nor make the cancer spread, nor interfere with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, nor cure cancer by natural means (Price & Price: 1995). Movements and stokes that can be used with a light rhythmical touch and stroking, are effleurage, passive exercises, gentle pulling and stretching (McNamara 1995).
A type of massage only used by professional masseurs/cancer specialists is manual lymph drainage to stimulate the circulation of lymph fluids, encouraging the flow of lymph without force, thereby enhancing the immune system. Reflexology, with very gentle pressure applied to the relevant points, can also help to relax the patient.
Essential oils and cancer
In the normal low dosage usually adopted by trained aromatherapists there should be no risk factor. Do not use unresearched oils or unfamiliar oils. There is no evidence that either essential oils or aromatherapy has caused cancer in humans (Tisserand & Balacs 1995: 102). Valnet cites useful oils as being: Syzigium aromaticum (clove), Cupressus sempervirens (cypress) and Pelargonium graveolens (geranium).
Lavender and citrus oils of a good quality are also useful for relieving stress. As a general rule, oils that would be useful for children are gentle enough to be used on cancer patients.
-ginger, peppermint, orange
Help falling asleep:
- lavender, vetiver, myrrh, frankincense, chamomile
- lavender, bergamot, clary sage, palmarosa, vetiver, ylang-ylang, basil, chamomile
Help to stay awake:
- basil, rosemary, geranium, peppermint, grapefruit, lemon, black pepper
Aromatherapy can be beneficial as a complementary treatment since the essential oils have properties that promote healing on physical, emotional and spiritual levels. Smells register in the limbic system, or “old brain”, that receives impulses directly from the olfactory nerves and subsequently triggers emotions and memories. This plays an important role in determining which oils to use, and because a person can be sensitive to smell, it is important to let them select acceptable oils before each treatment. Most importantly, an aromatherapist must consider a person’s overall health to determine if essential oils should be used and how they should be administered. Following are some examples of how aromatherapy may be used in cancer treatment, with the essential oils marked in italics.
Diffusing oils in a room is a non-invasive way to treat cancer symptoms such as vomiting (neroli, peppermint), nausea (ginger, lemon, peppermint), fear (rose, neroli, spikenard, vetiver), and insomnia (lavender, neroli, marjoram, valerian). A lamp ring that uses the heat from a light bulb is an easy way to diffuse oils into a room.
Compresses with hydrosols, also known as floral water, can ease pain (roman chamomile, peppermint), relieve constipation (marjoram, neroli), itching (roman chamomile, peppermint) and edema (lemon, grapefruit). They are useful after surgery.
A weak person may not be able to tolerate full body massage. Instead you can give a light, 5-minute hand and/or foot massage with gentle immune stimulating oils such as rosewood, bergamot, lemon, cardamom, almond or sandalwood that encourage relaxation and promote feelings of comfort. A footbath can also be soothing and beneficial.
The essential oils may chang, melissa and almond have anti-tumoral properties. Use combinations of rose, may chang and almond or almond, cardamom and sandalwood in a 1 to 1.5% blend with a massage oil.
Essential oils offer multiple uses for hospital and hospice workers. Family and friends can find relief from stress by diffusing oils throughout the house, as well as in the sick room. The stress and sleep deprivation that they often experience can be taxing on the adrenal glands. Neroli and black spruce oils can be used to help in such cases.
Some oils should not be used with certain types of cancer. While may chang is useful in stomach cancer, its use should be avoided on anyone with prostate cancer. If it is an estrogen-dependent cancer, avoid essential oils containing phytoestrogens and phytoprogesterones.
Relax: vanilla. In the Columbia University Medical Center study, subjects who smelled vanilla while completing stress tests had more stable heart rates and blood pressure readings than those who took the tests in an unscented environment.
Try: Place a few drops of vanilla extract onto a handkerchief and carry it with you throughout the day.
Recharge: peppermint, jasmine, citrus. These scents make you feel more awake. “Even though these scents are pleasant, they act as mild irritants and the effect is similar to that of smelling salts,” explains Dr. Hirsch.
Try: Sprinkle a few drops of the essential oil of your choice in a candle diffuser, or dilute two drops in 1 tsp. of avocado or almond oil, then rub it onto the back of your hand.
Relieve: Green apple. “We found that the smell of green apples reduced the severity and duration of migraine headache pain and may have a similar effect on joint pain,” says Dr. Hirsch. “The scent seems to reduce muscle contractions, which are the main cause of pain in migraines.”
Aromatherapy Nerve Pain ReliefThe nerves in your body register pain, so when nerves are damaged, the condition will be quite painful. Injured nerves take a long time to regenerate, but aromatherapy treatments can help with the process. They initially relieve pain, and people who use them appear to heal more quickly than others.
Essential oils of lavender, chamomile, and marjoram are excellent at easing the pain of a pinched nerve or sciatica. A less well-known essential oil called helichrysum is specific for this condition. Apply the oil directly on the back or hip to reduce pain. It is also wonderful on painful shingles. People with serious nerve-related problems, such as multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome, get noticeable pain relief from the Nerve Pain Oil (see recipe below). For carpal tunnel syndrome, rub this oil into the wrists. Since nerve conditions can be difficult to heal, talk to someone skilled in natural medicine for more ideas on how to treat them.
Essential oils for nerve pain: chamomile, lavender, marjoram, peppermint, sandalwood
Reduce your suffering from nerve pain with this gentle and effective formula.
Nerve Pain Oil
- 4 drops chamomile oil
- 3 drops marjoram oil
- 3 drops helichrysum oil (if available)
- 2 drops lavender oil
- 1 ounce vegetable oil or St. John’s wort oil