Harlem Word: Caroline Ortiz describes two examples of alternative or complementary therapy, reiki and aromatherapy

Editor October 7th

Caroline E. Ortiz, RN, MSN, MPH, is a nurse whose full-time job is at the NY Blood Center.  She is also a supporter and practitioner of holistic approaches to health that include alternative/complementary therapies such as reiki, restorative/therapeutic yoga, and aromatherapy.  Here, she talks about two examples of alternative or complementary therapies, reiki the practice of energy balancing and aromatherapy the practice of using essential oils.

Q. Reiki is a practice that is used in alternative or complementary therapy. What is reiki and how does it work?

A. Reiki is an ancient Japanese practice that is based on the philosophy of energy balancing. A reiki practitioner works with the person receiving the reiki, to balance his or her energy. It’s something that can be done lying down or sitting up and the person is fully clothed. It’s not like a massage, although some people may have that impression. There can be touch, a very light touch usually, on major joint areas–the shoulders, the knees, the top of the head. Reiki can also be done without touch, where the Reiki practitioner places their hands close to the body, but not actually touching it. The idea of doing this is that through the wisdom of the body and the way energy works, the energy of the person receiving the reiki will balance itself with the universal energy.

Q. Is there a therapy that you practice that some people may not know about?

A. Aromatherapy or essential oil therapy is the practice of using the essential oil of plants for healthful purposes. In the hospital where I work, one that we use is the essential oil of true lavender, or common/English lavender, for uplifting the spirit and for calming the mind. So it’s good for anxiety, depression, and reducing pain.

Q. How does one use the essential oil of true lavender and what happens when you use it?

A. Usually in a 10 milliliter bottle, there are only two drops of essential oil and the rest is unscented and all-natural massage oil.  You can put one or two drops on your skin and rub it there.  True lavender has a very light scent, but it has a very powerful chemical effect on the central nervous system and on hormone release, especially ones that make us feel good. Specifically:

1. Scent from the oil enters the olfactory system through the nose
2. Scent hits the nervous system 
3. Chemicals in the oil interact with your brain and body
Lavender has calming properties, it is one of the safest oils (because in most cases, it doesn’t irritate skin or cause an allergic reaction), and it smells really good!—I call it my “happy juice.”

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