Aromatherapy and essential oils are a mainstay in alternative and holistic medicine. But if you are new to the world of naturopathy, you may be wondering what aromatherapy is, how it works and the benefits.
Here’s everything you need to know about aromatherapy.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a holistic practice that uses aromatic plant essential oils to promote physical and mental well-being. At the heart of it, you are using scent to heal.
If you’ve ever used an essential oil diffuser or rolled on an essential oil perfume, then you have experienced aromatherapy first-hand.
While diffusers and roll-ons are some of the more common ways to use aromatherapy, you can also use:
- Facial steamers
- Bath salts
- Lotions, oils and creams infused with essential oils or plant extracts
Even something as simple as placing a few drops of essential oil onto your pillow can be considered aromatherapy.
Essential oils can have a variety of effects in aromatherapy. They can help:
- Ease anxiety and depression
- Help you feel more alert
- Promote a restful night of sleep
- Open up your airways and clear congestion
Each oil has its own properties, and different oils can be combined to create different effects.
The idea of aromatherapy isn’t new – people have been using it for centuries. Ancient cultures around the world, including those in India, China and Egypt, used plant resins, oils and balms for religious and medicinal purposes.
Today, aromatherapy is gaining greater acceptance in the medical community. Essential oils and aromatherapy products are more accessible than ever, but are they worth using?
What are the Benefits of Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy has many reported benefits, and some of these benefits are backed by science. While more research is needed for aromatherapy as a whole, several of the most popular essential oils (like lavender, chamomile, bergamot and peppermint) have been studied more extensively.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits:
May Help Ease Anxiety and Stress
If you’re one of the 40 million adults with anxiety, you may be looking for a natural way to calm your nerves. Aromatherapy shows promise in this department.
- One study found that the inhalation of lavender and rose essences helped ease anxiety in students compared to a control group. Students saw a significant decrease in their anxiety and depression symptoms at the end of weeks two and four.
- One review of 16 randomized clinical trials found that aromatherapy had positive effects on anxiety and without any side effects.
- One study found that lavender essential oil can help ease anxiety without adverse side effects.
- Using aromatherapy during a massage may help ease stress, but researchers found that the effect doesn’t last beyond the massage.
May Help with Migraines and Headaches
Battling headaches and migraines? The debilitating pain can make it hard to get through the day, but a little aromatherapy may help.
Another study found that using a combination of chamomile essential oil and sesame oil can help ease migraines and headaches.
Our My Relief™ Essential Oil Roll-On features a therapeutic blend of lavender, peppermint, chamomile and spearmint essential oils to help ease migraine and headache pain.
Promote Restful Sleep
Many people use essential oils and aromatherapy to help them fall asleep – and stay asleep.
One review of several studies found that smelling essential oils had a positive impact on sleep. Inhaling lavender oil has also been shown to help improve sleep in women who just gave birth and people with heart disease.
Help Boost Concentration
While some essential oils can make you feel relaxed and sleepy, others can make you feel more alert and focused.
- One study found that peppermint oil helped prevent fatigue and improved exercise performance.
- A 2012 study found that rosemary essential had stimulatory effects and impacted brain wave activity. Another study on rosemary oil found that it helped improve memory and focus in school children.
- Another study found that combining rosemary and spearmint essential oils had positive effects on memory and learning.
May Help with Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural, healthy body response to infection or injury, but when it’s chronic, it can wreak havoc on the body. There is some evidence that aromatherapy with essential oils may help reduce inflammation.
Research has found that several essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties, including:
In this particular study, researchers found that these essential oils reduced the expression of an inflammatory enzyme by an impressive 25%. Thyme was the most effective at reducing levels of this enzyme.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
Now that you understand the benefits of aromatherapy, you may be wondering how it works. How can essential oils affect your mental or physical health?
Scent is a powerful thing. Inhaling essential oils can trigger a wide range of emotions and even memories.
Aromatic molecules, when inhaled, affect your olfactory cells. These are special cells that have microscopic hairs. Each hair recognizes a specific aroma, and this can trigger an impulse that’s sent to your limbic system (a primitive part of the brain).
Inhaling essential oils can also cause compounds in the oil to travel internally and be absorbed. When applied topically, some essential oils can be absorbed by the skin and travel through the bloodstream.
How Do You Get Started?
Getting started with aromatherapy is easy. The first step is to figure out which essential oils to use based on your desired effect.
Diffusers are a simple way to get started with aromatherapy. These devices disperse essential oils into the air through water vapor. While many people love diffusers, it’s important to remember that they affect everyone in the room – including pets.
If you’re looking for a more personal form of aromatherapy, try a topical product, like our My Relief Roll-On. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy without disturbing others.
Just remember that aromatherapy is a complementary therapy. It’s not a cure for any medical condition, but it may help support conventional treatments.