Making sense of scents

Tracy Overstreet

Maybe you’re stressed out. Maybe you can’t sleep. Maybe you have high blood pressure. Maybe you’ve lost your appetite or have stomach aches.

Whatever the ailment, more and more research shows that scents — specifically essential oils — may help click your body and your mind into helping itself.

“I look at aromatherapy as a way to facilitate the healing process,” said Sonja Simpson, a registered nurse and former director of the Central District Health Department in Nebraska.

She’s been studying essential oils for the past six to seven years — a study that began when she was past executive director of the national Holistic Nurses Association.

There’s a chemistry to the oil that Simpson said literally helps the body help itself.

It’s a holistic approach to therapy and a complement to traditional Western medicine. Simpson calls the use of essential oils as integrative into a person’s overall health care plan.

“Healing is something that takes place between the body, mind and spirit,” said Simpson, a cancer survivor who used essential oils along with her chemotherapy treatments.

The oils helped her rid her anger over cancer and to get in touch with her emotions related to cancer and to deal with appetite loss and pain.

Holistic health care includes exercise, nutrition, medicine, surgeries and enhancing the body’s own healing abilities through things such as essential  oil, she said.

“When you try an oil out … you take it in (putting a drop or two in the palms and smelling),” Simpson said. “If you smell an oil you don’t like, don’t use that oil — your body isn’t tuned into that oil, but if you smell something you like, use it. It’s something your body really needs.”

Lavender is good for  relaxation and sleeping. Roman and German chamomile is good for skin care. Black pepper is good for arthritic or sore joints. Ginger is good for nausea. Citrus oils such as orange, tangerine, lemon and grapefruit are very uplifting, Simpson said.

She consults with clients interested in using essential oils, beginning with an information intake session, and said there are some blended oils that are very good for specific purposes.

An oil called Mellisa is good for depression. Peace and Calming is good for stress.

“You can use oils to assist yourself in your own therapy,” Simpson said. “The medical care system we have today is necessary, but the reimbursement is really based on a problem rather than prevention, and the doctors are really at the mercy of the insurance system.”

The relaxation and centering oils such as frankincense, cedarwood, geranium are good for a client preparing to transition to death.

“It’s very, very popular to use essential oils at the end of life, very successfully,” Simpson said. “Hospice and nursing homes are using them to deal with appetite loss and cancer treatment.”

Essential oils rely much on reflexology — applying them to specific points of the body that are ailing.

In Eastern medicine, the liver is seen as the seat of the emotions. So if Simpson is treating someone with emotional issues such as grief or tension, she may give him an oil blend and suggest it be used on the liver points — over the organ itself and on the outerarch of the right foot.

The chaplains at St. Francis Medical Center in Grand Island, Neb., have undergone some essential oil training, Simpson said, as has the palliative care group. She’s spoken at Wellness Works at the mall and was part of a holistic and essential oil conference in Denver.

She’s also spoken about the Biblical oils.

“There are 200 references to oils in the Bible,” Simpson said.

The oils simply detoxify your body and steer the mind toward greater focus and balance, she said.

The Grand Island Independent