Aromatherapy as complementary therapy

Last week, I bumped into Doryce Sher again.  She was a pharmacist and is now an aromatherapist and is the founder of the very impressive Aromatic Apothecary based in Cape Town.  Many years ago, I went to one of her lectures.  She was speaking to a medical audience, most of whom were dubious about the relevance of aromatherapy. (At the time, I was organising the lectures and there were several doctors who were quite vocal in their objections).  I rarely remember the opening line of lectures but I recall hers:  "I can't cure your patients but I can make them feel better".

Smell is a very basic sense.  It takes us back in time and place.  Smells that remind me that I am living in Cape Town include the smell of kelp and the brewery: the aroma of cow parsley takes me back to England.
Chemotherapy changes the sense of smell.  Many women complain that their food tastes peculiar.  Others associate the smell of the chemotherapy unit with feeling unwell.  Hospital wards have varying smells: some more pleasant than others.  Using oils to change the smell in the unit doesn't always work. What is soothing to one patient is intrusive to another.

Aromatherapy has been used in many different ways to relieve the unpleasantness associated with treatment.  The applications include inhalers, gels or creams.  I know of several women who have found using them has made their experience more tolerable.  In one study done looking at the benefit of aromastix for chemotherapy patients over 70% of patients felt they benefitted in some way.

Have you used aromatherapy to make you or another person feel better?  Did it work?  Please share your experience.  Should you wish for more information, please feel free to ask Doryce for her information sheets.


  1. Dear Dr Edge, I was really interested to read this. I know Doryce through aromatherapy. I have recently brought Aromatherapy patches (Bioesse Essential Oil patches) into SA. There are various pre-filled patches and one blank one. The pre-filled include Lavender, Mandarin, Peppermint, Spearmint, Healthy Me (antibacterial oils such as Tea Tree) and Sweet Dreams - for anxiety or for good sleep. The blank patch can be filled with whatever combination or single oil works best for the patient. I am really keen to see how these work. They are not transdermal, but are stuck onto the chest just under the line of the shirt, and the oils diffuse upwards into the nose for anything between 2-8 hours, which is ideal for patients who are very frail or who just don't want to use aromastix (although I think those are brilliant too and use them myself). I'd love to try some out on patients who need them... let me know if you might be interested. My email is bioesse@mweb.co.za.

  2. Thanks for your comments. They illustrate that I have only touched the surface when it comes to suggesting the uses for aromatherapy.