The Benefits of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy uses extracts of flowers, herbs and trees to help with health problems. They’re usually sprayed, diffused or put in bath salts.

Some studies show that the smell of some essential oils can reduce stress and anxiety. But more research is needed. And some oils can be harmful if swallowed or used by children or women who are pregnant.

1. Relaxation

Many people seek aromatherapy as a natural treatment for stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that the inhalation of certain essential oils, such as lavender, can promote relaxation and reduce a person’s heart rate and blood pressure.

The calming scents of rose geranium and ylang ylang induce deep breathing, which helps to ease tension. They also stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions and can bring on a sense of calm.

Aromatherapy can be used in a variety of ways, including adding essential oil to bath water or using a diffuser. When applied to the skin, it is important to dilute the oil with a carrier such as jojoba or almond oil. It is also important to never take essential oils by mouth unless under the supervision of a trained professional, as some can be toxic or cause allergic reactions. It is recommended that you work with a holistic massage therapist or an aromatherapist to ensure your safety when trying out new methods of using aromatherapy.

2. Pain Relief

As a noninvasive, drug-free option for pain relief, aromatherapy offers several benefits. It can reduce anxiety and relax the muscles, allowing your body to better manage pain. It can also reduce the amount of medication you need to take.

One study found that lavender aromatherapy reduced the intensity of back pain, and it may be more effective than acetaminophen. However, this was only a single study and a more rigorous study design would be needed to confirm these results.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive neurological disease that can cause pain in many areas of the body. MS pain can be difficult to treat with conventional methods, and the discomfort of a painful flare-up is often overwhelming for patients. Studies have shown that aromatherapy can relieve MS pain. Lavender essential oils, in particular, were found to be helpful in easing MS pain. Lavender also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help ease migraines. In addition, aromatherapy can ease gynecological pain, including menstrual discomfort.

3. Immune System Strengthening

With the pandemic underway, it’s never been more important to keep your immune system running smoothly. Thankfully, essential oils are a natural way to do just that. They can help strengthen the body’s ability to fight off infections and even prevent them.

Lab research shows that certain essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, antifungal and antioxidant properties that can effectively combat infections. In addition, they can also support the immune system’s innate and adaptive immune responses.

For instance, eucalyptus oil contains a compound called 1,8-cineole which has been proven to have immunostimulant effects. Other immune-boosting essential oils include lemon, oregano and frankincense. To maximize the immune-boosting effects of these essential oils, try diffusing them in your home or using an aromatherapy inhaler to ingest them. This will help prevent the onset of colds and flu, while also boosting your immunity to avoid infection. A combination of eucalyptus, lemon and lavender is also an effective immune-boosting blend.

4. Mood Enhancement

Inhaling the aroma of essential oils stimulates olfactory receptors in your nose and sends signals to the limbic system of your brain, which helps regulate emotions and memories. Certain aromas stimulate the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, that can enhance mood and increase feelings of pleasure and happiness.

When your emotional state needs a boost, inhaling the aroma of emotionally balancing oils like lavender, chamomile, and bergamot can help reduce anxiety and promote peace and sleepiness. Energizing oils, such as citrus, peppermint, ginger, eucalyptus, and cedarwood can stimulate the senses to combat fatigue and improve concentration.

Using essential oils is safe and can complement other healthy lifestyle practices, such as a balanced diet, exercise, therapy, and a supportive social network. However, it should never be used as a replacement for treatment of serious mental health issues by qualified professionals. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid hyssop oil, and those with high blood pressure should not use oils that have stimulating properties, such as rosemary and spike lavender.