The Benefits of Aromatherapy


Many consumers are trying out aromatherapy, which uses essential oils. However, it’s important to use only oils deemed safe for internal usage and only under the guidance of a trained professional.

There are several ways to use aromatherapy, including massage, inhalation and skin application. Here are some of the benefits that have been backed up by scientific research: [1]: Stress relief.

Stress relief

Aromatherapy is a therapeutic practice that uses natural scents to balance the mind and body. The oils can be diluted and inhaled or rubbed into acupressure points on the body. This holistic approach to wellness can help relieve stress and encourage sleep.

Lavender is a popular oil for relaxation and has been shown to improve cognition and decrease agitation and anxiety. However, previous studies analyzing lavender effects were criticized for being placebo-controlled and therefore, unable to determine the specific stress-reducing properties of the oil.

To examine this question, we tested lavender’s effect on performance in a visual go/no-go (GNG) task that requires responses to some stimuli and withholding responses to others. This task is sensitive to impairments in executive function, and its N200 component reflects inhibitory control. We found that lavender oil significantly reduced poststress N200 amplitude but not latency, suggesting that the oil directly improved inhibition. In addition, cortisol levels were measured in saliva samples collected at baseline and during the stress battery.

Pain relief

Pain is a common issue for people living with long-term health conditions. While aromatherapy may not make pain go away completely, it can decrease the intensity of the pain. It can also help with mood and sleep.

Lavender essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve headaches, joint and muscle pain. Other essential oils that can be used in aromatherapy to treat pain include Roman chamomile, which promotes a restful sleep and is helpful for insomnia and tension headaches. Cypress essential oil improves circulation and can reduce pain due to injury or surgery.

A patient with a recent above-knee amputation was experiencing high levels of pain and anxiety. She was afraid to move her leg and would cry before occupational and physical therapy sessions. She was prescribed an aromatherapy product that helped her relax and decreased her pain medication intake. By the end of her stay, she was an advocate for the aromatherapy product and was able to continue using it after discharge home.

Immune system boost

As the seasons change and colds and flu start popping up everywhere, keeping the immune system strong becomes more important than ever. Aromatherapy is a great way to do this, especially when using essential oils with immune-boosting properties.

A few of the many immune-boosting essential oils include myrrh, eucalyptus, oregano and frankincense. These essential oils have been shown to support the immune system by having antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.

In addition to these immune-boosting essential oils, it’s also a good idea to incorporate frequent hand washing with non-toxic soap, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to stay away from too much alcohol as this negatively impacts the immune system. Try using these immune-boosting essential oils in a DIY respiratory blend to keep the common cold and flu at bay this season!

Mood boost

Juggling a career, caring for family members and meeting the demands of daily life can leave us feeling stressed, distracted or lethargic. Aromatherapy can help boost your mood by using the scents of essential oils. These highly concentrated plant oils can be inhaled or applied directly to the skin with a carrier oil.

While most clinical research on aromatherapy is mixed or lacking, some plants and scents do seem to have uplifting effects. Eucalyptus, for example, has an invigorating aroma that is said to stimulate the brain and increase focus. Peppermint can also boost energy levels, according to one small study.

Before pursuing aromatherapy, consult your doctor or a licensed aromatherapist to determine whether it is safe for you. Also, avoid ingesting any essential oils, which can be harmful, and make sure to choose high-quality oil from reputable companies. It is best to avoid putting essential oils near your eyes, as they can irritate them.