A 2020 research study by the Journal of the American Medical Association into the profitability of large pharmaceutical companies compared to other large companies concluded that “the median net income earnings expressed as a fraction of revenue was significantly greater for pharmaceutical companies compared with nonpharmaceutical companies.”

This is due to the fact that “virtually all of the US Food and Drug Administration-approved medicines in the United States were developed by for-profit corporations.”

Ranked by billions profited each year, Novartis, Roche, Abbvie and Pfizer round out the top five on the path to earn $1.48 trillion by 2025, with Johnson & Johnson in the top spot.

These statistics prove that primary physicians and specialists are prescribing life-saving medications to their patients, and forprofit big pharma are reaping the rewards.

The sad reality is that many Americans are feeling the pinch where it matters most – the wallet. Along with ever-rising costs come the myriad of side effects that quickly roll off the tongue of the voice-over actor in drug commercials.

This has led to questions of whether most ailments that are commonly treated with a prescription and a trip to the local pharmacy can more effectively be managed by a more holistic approach.

The alternative medicine industry is projected to earn $348 billion by 2029 and saw record-breaking revenue in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Research has shown that more and more Americans are adopting alternative forms of wellness into their daily regime and medicine cabinets.

One of the most popular remedies is aromatherapy.

What is aromatherapy and how does it work?

Aromatherapy is “the practice of using natural aromatic substances, including essential oils, for their physical and psychological benefits,” according to the book “Essential Oils: Natural Remedies” published by Althea Press.

For whatever ailment arises, nature has a cure. Essential oils have healing properties that “help keep undesirable bacteria and viruses at bay while stimulating the immune system.”

The word aromatherapy comes from the Greek root “aroma,” which means “spice,” and is not merely a matter of scent.

Aromatherapy incorporates nature and the use of plants, from which essential oils are derived. For centuries, aromatherapy and essential oils have been enjoyed by humans for relaxation and health and wellness.

Ancient Egyptian archeological research reveals that essential oils such as myrrh, cedar, and frankincense were used for “beauty, medicine, spirituality, and embalming practices” dating back to 2500 BCE.

In ancient India, physicians incorporated herbal essences in Ayurvedic medicine.

There are multiple references in the Bible of essential oils and aromatherapy using fir, frankincense, myrtle, lavender, myrrh, cedarwood, balsam, cinnamon and others. Essential oils can be inhaled or used for physical and psychological purposes, or can be diluted with a carrier oil and applied to the skin.

Essential oils are not extracted from plants but are chemical compounds derived from the steam distillation of plants that contain concentrations of various organic components with medicinal content, beneficial to the body, as well as the mind and spirit.

All essential oils are adaptogens which can help the body recover from various illnesses and infections without pausing or disrupting bodily functions or the traditional pharmaceutical side effects.

Aromatherapy is cost effective and widely available at local health and nutrition stores, as well as online, which makes it accessible to the consumer seeking alternative pathways to wellness.

Aromatherapy is believed to work “by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then sends messages through the nervous system to the limbic system which is the part of the brain that controls emotions,” according to Christina Anthis, author of “The Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils.”

There are some essential oils and herbs that are safe for oral use such as ginger, cinnamon, clove, and peppermint.

Lavender tea is great for insomnia. Lavender oil sprinkled on sheets can also promote a good night’s sleep. A touch of lavender on the temple can ease headaches.

Ginger can soothe an upset stomach and along with cloves can be excellent cancer fighters. Peppermint is good for nausea and respiratory diseases such as asthma. Eucalyptus is a go-to for respiratory infections.

Aromatherapy can be a psychological mood enhancer. Flowers such as roses, geraniums, gardenias, ylang-ylang, and magnolia can be dried to create a sachet of potpourri that can be steamed or lightly boiled to induce a lovely, stimulating fragrance throughout the home that is fresh and promotes an element of positivity.

Burning fragrant incense can also furnish a delightful aroma in the home or office.

Essential oils and aromatherapy are perfect for pregnant women and have been safely used for centuries. Anthis writes in “The Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils,” “aromatherapists agree that most essential oils should be avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy, but it’s safe to use them sparingly through the rest of a pregnancy.”

Soothing and calming essential oils such as lavender, rose, and geranium are a suitable aid for labor and delivery.

Here are some key things to keep in mind regarding implementing aromatherapy into wellness care:

• While essential oils have properties that are antibacterial and antifungal, they do have a shelf life. So keep essential oils sealed properly when not in use. Do not leave dropper lids in bottles because the oils will erode the rubber.

• Keep essential oils away from the light, stored in dark glass bottles.

• Store essential oils in a cool, dark place to preserve them from the harmful effects of heat.

• There is a difference between essential oils and fragrance oils. Essential oils are wholly plant-derived through distillation, cold pressing, enfleurage (the combination of fatty oil with whole flowers), or solvent extraction methods. Fragrance or scented oils and perfumes are not.

• Keep essential oils out of reach of children.

• Be cautious when purchasing essential oils. Always buy from a reputable source. Some sellers adulterate or use impure or inferior ingredients mixed in with essential oils.

Aromatherapy has the ability to “positively influence emotions…help mitigate the downward cycle of depression and malaise that often accompanies illness, exhaustion and periods of prolonged physical and mental stress,” the book “Essential Oils” details.

Making aromatherapy a regular part of a health and wellness routine can promote a positive physical, emotional and spiritual outlook and wellbeing.

Aromatherapy can be an exciting alternative to traditional medicine. It offers the capability of treating “the whole patient,” not just the symptoms of illness, and in a cost-effective manner.