What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils (fragrance or volatile oil) from flowers, barks, stems, roots, leaves and fruits for health and therapeutic purposes. It is usually used through inhalation or local application on the skin.

If you have any questions about using aromatherapy, talk to your healthcare provider.

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of extracts from plants called essential oils for physical and emotional well-being. It is one of many complementary therapies. It may help reduce anxiety, stress and depression. It may also help ease pain and discomfort from some health conditions.

Essential oils are volatile liquid substances extracted from the aromatic parts of plants. They are thought to work by interacting with the olfactory nerve in the brain, which influences emotions. The oils can be inhaled directly or mixed with a carrier oil and applied to the skin. They can also be added to bath water or used in massage.

You can find products containing essential oils at most health food stores and some regular supermarkets. However, the quality and purity of these products isn’t regulated. You should choose a reputable producer of pure, therapeutic-grade oils. You should only use a small amount of the oil, and dilute it with a carrier oil or other solvent.

How does aromatherapy work?

Aromatherapy uses diluted essential oils that are applied or inhaled to help relax, heal, and promote well-being. The oils come from many different parts of plants, including flowers, leaves, roots, and bark. They can be found in fragrances and are often added to bath products, massage oil, or room spray.

Researchers aren’t sure exactly how aromatherapy works. But they believe that the scents from the oils stimulate smell receptors in your nose that send messages to areas of your brain that control emotions and memory.

Some studies show that aromatherapy can help relieve certain symptoms, such as anxiety or insomnia. However, more rigorous studies are needed to confirm these results. Also, some people have experienced side effects from aromatherapy, such as nausea and vomiting. Your healthcare provider can tell you more about the possible benefits and risks of aromatherapy in your unique situation. They may recommend aromatherapy alongside your other medical care and treatment.

What are the benefits of aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy uses the natural scents of plants to help improve mood, relieve stress, and promote relaxation. It may also reduce nausea from chemotherapy or other cancer treatments and aid in sleep.

When you smell a scent, it triggers special cells in your nose that send signals to your limbic system — the center of your emotions. The scents of certain essential oils are thought to stimulate these centers and create therapeutic effects.

You can inhale the fragrances of essential oils through a diffuser, or apply them to your skin during a massage or bath. But you should only use oils specifically formulated for inhalation, or those diluted with a carrier oil, and only under the guidance of a trained and certified aromatherapist. Avoid ingesting the oils, and be sure to tell your health care provider about any aromatherapy you plan to do before starting. You should also let them know if you take any prescription drugs, because some oils can interact with medications.

What are the risks of aromatherapy?

While there are many benefits to aromatherapy, it is important to recognize the risks. For example, certain oils are irritants and may cause skin irritation or respiratory irritation. Also, because essential oils are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, they don’t undergo the rigorous safety testing that drugs do.

Moreover, some of the chemicals in essential oil act like estrogen and block or decrease the action of androgens, which could be dangerous for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Ingestion of any essential oil is not advised, as it can be poisonous or even fatal in high doses. Most essential oils need to be diluted before they can be applied to the skin, and most need to be kept away from sensitive areas of the body.

Also, citrus essential oils increase photosensitivity and should not be used before exposure to sunlight. Additionally, certain essential oils can interact with prescription medications, so people taking any medications should consult with their health care provider before trying aromatherapy.