If you’ve ever received a treatment from me, you’ll know that I am very passionate about the use of essential oils. Many of my patients ask, “What is it that you’re doing with oils?” So, I’m going to share that now!
Aroma Acupoint Therapy is a system developed by two Chinese medical doctors, Peter Holmes and Tiffany Carole Pollard, that taps into the potency of essential oils to complement and accentuate an acupuncture treatment. It is a beautiful marriage of aromatherapy with Chinese medicine. And it’s a technique that I have extensive training in.
As an aromatic plant medicine, essential oils have an affect on the mind and body. The Aroma Acupoint Therapy technique involves applying certain oils on acupuncture points to trigger positive change on physical, mental, and emotional levels.
From a scientific point of view, the fragrance of an essential oil travels through the olfactory (nose) nervous system to the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls the fight or flight vs rest and relax response, our emotions, and even memory. Therefore aromatherapy can modulate brain hormones and neurotransmitters, resulting in changes in perception, cognition, mood, blood pressure, blood cortisol levels, and even sleep patterns (Holmes 2016). For instance, there are many clinical studies on the use of aromatherapy in treating anxiety (Chen et al. 2008; Imanishi et al. 2007).
Furthermore, when essential oils are applied topically, they have an effect on the body’s physiology (e.g. relaxant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial). In fact, French physicians have used essential oils medicinally for over 200 years (Holmes 2001).
A very basic Aroma Acupoint Therapy treatment involves the application of bergamot, a citrus oil, to an acupressure point on the ear called shenmen, which roughly translates to, “Spirit Gate.”. Bergamot has a pleasing and uplifting scent. From a Chinese medicine point of view, bergamot oil is very harmonizing for the emotions due to its ability to move and soothe Liver qi (Mojay 1997). Scientific research shows that bergamot oil has chemical properties that may alleviate the symptoms of physical and psychological stress as measured by nervous system responses such as blood pressure and heart rate (Huang & Capdevila 2017). Shenmen is often used for stress relief, pain relief, and to boost energy (Abbate 2004). Synergistically, applying bergamot oil to shenmen balances the nervous system, balances the mind, balances the mood, and mildly promotes alertness and optimism (Holmes 2017). This is a very simple treatment that has broad-ranging benefits and is gentle enough to be used on people of all ages including children and the elderly.
Curious to give this a try? Book a session with me here.
Abbate, S. (2016). Chinese auricular acupuncture. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
Chen, Y., Chang, T., Cheng, F., Lan, S., Shih, Y.T., & Wang, M. (2008). Inhalation of neroli essential oil and its anxiolytic effects in animals.
Holmes, Peter (2017). Aroma Acupoint Therapy Level 1. New York, NY: Snow Lotus Seminars.
Holmes, Peter, (2016). Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics. London, England, UK: Singing Dragon.
Holmes, Peter (2001). Clinical Aromatherapy: Using Essential Oils for Healing Body and Soul. Cotati, CA: Tigerlily Press.
Huang, L., & Capdevila, L. (2017). Aromatherapy Improves Work Performance Through Balancing the Autonomic Nervous System. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(3), 214-221.
Imanishi, J., Kuriyama, H., Shigemori, I., Watanabe, S., Aihara, Y., Kita, M., Sawai, K., et al. (2009). Anxiolytic Effect of Aromatherapy Massage in Patients with Breast Cancer. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 6(1), 123–128.
Mojay, Gabriel, (1997). Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.