What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is one of the most common complementary therapies. It can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, ease headaches and migraines, and boost energy.

It can also soothe aches and pains, including menstrual cramps. It can even help induce labor in some women, according to research (Buckle 2001). The oils used for this purpose are called essential oils.

Essential oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts, extracted using steam or cold pressing methods. It can take many pounds of plant material to produce a small bottle of oil. They can be ingested, applied to the skin or inhaled. It is important to choose a reputable manufacturer when purchasing essential oils. Heat, light and oxygen can alter the chemical composition of these oils.

Inhaling aromatherapy oils may irritate the lungs, leading to symptoms like coughing, nose and throat irritation and shortness of breath. Individuals with respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be particularly susceptible to these effects.

Inhalation of essential oils can lead to a variety of psychological effects. These include relaxation, stimulation and uplifting. Inhalation of certain scents can also activate olfactory nerves in the brain, which trigger emotional responses and memories. This PDQ cancer information summary provides comprehensive, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information about the use of aromatherapy with essential oils for the treatment of people with cancer. It was developed by the PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board, which is independent of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).


Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that uses essential oils to promote mental health and emotional well-being. The oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that contain volatile compounds with many healing properties. They can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, boost energy levels, and treat a variety of ailments.

Whenever using essential oil, it is important to dilute them before applying them to the skin or a diffuser. Undiluted essential oils can cause irritation and may trigger allergic reactions. Dilution also minimizes the risk of chemical interactions with medications or supplements.

A dilution is a mathematical formula that calculates the concentration of a solute in a solution. It is used in fields such as biology, pharmacology and microbiology. In these sciences, dilutions are often calculated using a series of serial dilutions. Each dilution is followed by a logarithmic decrease in the concentration of the solute. The resulting concentration is represented as the ratio of the number of parts of the solute to the number of parts of the solvent.


Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils to stimulate the nerves in the brain and body. The oil is emitted from the plant’s cells and absorbed by olfactory nerves, which connect to the limbic system. The scents help to relieve stress, uplift the mood and rejuvenate the whole system. It is an easy, natural, noninvasive way to relax the mind and body for better health.

During an aromatherapy session, your practitioner will ask you about your symptoms and recommend specific scents. They may use a vaporizer or a room spray to diffuse the smell, or apply the oils directly on your skin during a massage. They will also teach you how to use these techniques at home.

To start an aromatherapy program in your facility, first obtain buy-in from the major stakeholders. Next, build a committee that includes interprofessional members. Then search the literature for best practice models and develop a policy and procedure manual. Lastly, identify nursing considerations and establish pre-outcome and post-outcome measurements for your program.


Aromatherapy is a safe, inexpensive treatment for pain and other symptoms. However, it should be used with caution in certain situations. For example, some essential oils are toxic when ingested and should never be applied to the skin. Others are highly flammable and can cause burns.

The olfactory nerves in the nose connect to parts of the brain that control emotions and memory. This connection may explain why aromatherapy relieves stress and depression. It also helps ease anxiety, especially trait anxiety, which is a constant feeling of tension that doesn’t necessarily occur in specific situations.

Nurses need to understand the basics of this therapy before implementing it in their facilities. For example, if a patient is pregnant or nursing, the nurses should get a physician’s endorsement before using any essential oil. A nurse should also learn about the best practices for incorporating aromatherapy in their practice. This includes identifying preoutcome and postoutcome measurements, educating staff about the use of aromatherapy, and evaluating results.