and Harp Therapy
Aromatherapy is the practice of using fragrant essential oils distilled from plants to improve both mood and health. Aromatherapy was used by many ancient civilizations, including those of Egypt, Greece, Rome and China. Its modern form originated in France in the early 1900s, spreading to the United States in the 1980s. Early research suggests that aromatherapy may help people cope with chronic pain, stress and depression. There also have been reports that inhaled peppermint, ginger and cardamon oil may help reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy, but this data has not been proven by scientific studies.
Essential oils are either inhaled or applied to the skin. For inhalation, a few drops of the very concentrated substances are added to steaming water or to devices, such as nebulizers and diffusers, that spread the oil molecules throughout the air. For application to the skin, the essential oils are diluted in a pure vegetable oil, such as sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil, then used during massage or added to a bath. Essential oils differ from ordinary perfumes because they are derived from plants, while perfumes are created artifi cially or contain artifi cial substances.
Aromatherapy and harp therapy are two complementary approaches that can be used together to enhance a patient’s feeling of well-being. At San Diego Hospice, I often work with our aromatherapist, Rodney Schwan, while he administers aromatherapy and massage, specifically the Ancient Celtic technique of massage. (See following section on Celtic Circle). As he massages down the patient’s left side, I play calming music; then when he massages the soles of the feet, I play introspective music, reaching the soul of the individual. We finish as I modulate into a lighter mood, while he massages of the right side of the body. For this circle, Rodney has a special blend of massage oil containing the following pure essential oils:
- Sandalwood for calming the mind, unifying the mind with Spirit and developing spiritual unity— supported by the calming Mixolydian mode.
- Chamomile Roman for peacefulness, calming and comforting the sad spirit, and releasing the sadness to the heavens—supported by the reflective Aeolian mode.
- Neroli for lightening the heart, uplifting sorrow to bring about self-recognition, relief, encouragement and a feeling of joyful, unconditional love—supported by the uplifting Ionian mode.