By Akanksha Kukreti and Aqsa Anjum

Are you suffering from high blood pressure, depression and want to relax after working 24x7? There is an old-age solution for you. Our Dadis and Nanis have been using this natural practice of treatment in the form of massage at home since ages. But today it has a fancy name – aromatherapy. And instead of it being a homemade remedy, it has become a favourite with the elite.

Dr Blossom Kocchar who is an aromatherapist and Director of Blossom Kocchar Aesthetics and Spa Academy, New Delhi, says, “This therapy is done with the help of fragrant flower petals. This alternative medical practice is done with the help of essential oils (concentrated oils) like eucalyptus and lavender oil. They are added to carrier oils (base oils) like almond and coconut oil. These oils work on mind and body as soon as they are applied.”

The name aromatherapy suggests a therapy related to smell and is considered a part of spa culture. But Dr C S Raghav, Secretary of International Centre for Aromatherapy and Development says that aromatherapy is not only about smell. “It is also used for curing BP, diabetes and to provide relaxation,” he adds.

Mridula Kumar, who is a lecturer in Delhi University says, “I started using this therapy just for relaxation. Before this, I used a very famous and natural beauty and health package but that was full of chemicals. As this therapy is completely herbal, I got amazing results.”

But Parul Bhagel, who works with an NGO, is not convinced. “Aromatherapy sounds like some fancy therapy guised to extract money from people. Not many middle class people like me are able to afford it. Moreover, there are no reports to justify the claims that they make.”

The aromatherapists claim that the treatment is costly because in allopathy or homeopathy, people are susceptible to reactions or they need longer duration for positive effect. “But in aromatherapy, oils are applied externally and person feels better just by inhaling it,” says Dr Kochhar.

But it will take more than mere logic to convince people. Most are still not ready to take it up. “I will not leave my daily blood pressure medicine and take up aromatherapy. It is too risky to try that. Even if it is to be used as a parallel form, I don’t have the time to apply oils and sit and relax. I have a very busy schedule,” says Pinky Singh, a government school teacher.

Aromatherapy may look like a safe option and offer a respite from strong medicines but there are strings attached. “Though there are no serious side effects of aromatherapy, one has to be cautious while using it. More than recommended amount can lead to allergies. Aromatherapy should be done under the guidance of an expert,” says Dr Raghav.