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May 06, 2013 06:20 PM

Aromatherapy And Medicine

Sioux Falls, SD

If you've been feeling anxious or you have struggled to get a good night's sleep lately, one option some local doctors are offering is aromatherapy. The fragrances can be used in conjunction with other treatment as well.

Fifty-six-year-old JoAnn Kretchmer has been undergoing chemotherapy for the past year. The Cavour woman was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last May.

"I just figured that was it. That was the end. I was not going to be here within the next year. That's pretty much the prognosis with pancreatic cancer," Kretchmer said.

But Kretchmer has been fighting back. That includes trying out aromatherapy to deal with the nausea and insomnia that accompany her chemotherapy treatments.

Avera's Prairie Center offers five different oils to choose from. Lavender and mandarin can help with anxiety and insomnia. Frankincense is used to fight pain and ginger and peppermint deal with nausea.

"It can be an easy tool because it's something you can have right next to you and open it up and wave it under your nose," Avera Dr. Dawn Flickema said.

You can use the aromatherapy oils a few different ways. You can smell it directly. You can mix it with a lotion and put it on your skin or you can use it in your bath water.

"If you put the essential oil on directly, that can be a little harsh on the skin," Flickema said.

Flickema says researchers are still studying exactly how aromatherapy works, but one of the theories is that by breathing in the oils, you stimulate specific areas of the brain.

"Your nose is an extension of your brain, just like your eyes and ears, so your nose has a direct connection back to the brain," Flickema said.

Kretchmer says it's too early to tell whether the oils are helping her, but she's willing to try anything that improves her quality of life.

"It's tiring. Your chemotherapy definitely takes a lot out of you, so you're tired," Kretchmer said.

The aromatherapy oils are available for sale at the Prairie Center for around $10 an ounce.

Flickema says when you buy aromatherapy oils, make sure you read the label and purchase essential oils.

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