4 Benefits of Aromatherapy

4 Benefits of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy may sound like some sort of New Age mumbo jumbo leftover from the 1960’s hippie era. However, you are surrounded by it everyday and being exposed to it either peripherally or directly could positively affect your quality of life in ways you may have never realized. Even science agrees. There are a multitude of studies confirming the many supportive effects certain aromas have on your brain.

There are many uses of scent oils but these 4 benefits of aromatherapy are the most prominent. Experiment with an essential oil daily or just when you need it most. Either way it’s an available toolbox allowing you to avoid conventional drugs and learn to heal naturally.

What the Heck is It?

Say the word aromatherapy to most people and they will usually furrow their brow in confusion. Overall, it is the use of essential oils safely applied to the skin for certain aromatic benefits.

According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy,

Aromatherapy can be defined as the science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It is a science which explores the physiological, psychological and spiritual elements that respond to aromatic scents, as well as to observe and support the individual’s innate healing process.”

Once the oil is absorbed the scent remains for a short period, but the effects on the brain may last longer.

In a study by researchers at the School of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Kangwon National University, Chuncheon, Korea it was concluded,

“Based on the previous studies, it can be concluded that fragrances directly and/or indirectly affect the psychological and physiological conditions of humans. In addition, the electroencephalograph studies clearly revealed that fragrances significantly modulate the activities of different brain waves and are responsible for various states of the brain.”

Aromatherapy can be used in many ways however essential oils rubbed into the skin are believed to connect with the body more biologically. The theory is that certain essential oils are made up of the same elements of human cells thus integrating efficiently. Wash hands thoroughly and apply aromatherapy oils to pulse points (wrists, ankles, neck, etc) and always be careful not to accidentally wipe your eyes.

Happy Accident

The history of using aromas to enhance health probably goes back to the beginning of humankind but many refer to its roots throughout various ancient civilizations.

Many tribes and religions today still use aromas for healing which was termed aromatherapy by French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1937. Gattefosse claims surviving a serious burn accident unscathed in his lab that would have certainly resulted in third degree burns if he didn’t plunge his arm into a vat of lavender oil. Shortly after this discovery, French surgeon Jean Valnet successfully applied essential oils to speed healing of soldier’s wounds in World War II.  Since these two accounts, aromatherapy has been studied and used by laypeople and medical professionals alike.

Control Mood

We have good days, we have bad days and we have mediocre days. Aromatherapy can be applied to all three, attempting to quell a negative mood and encourage a more positive one.

According to Yale Scientific (the nation’s oldest college science publication),

“…a study from the Mie University School of Medicine found that patients with depression needed smaller doses of antidepressant medications after citrus fragrance treatment. Another study from the University of Vienna demonstrated that when the scent of orange oil was used in dental clinics, female patients exhibited decreased anxiety. These studies suggest that some fragrances may have a clinically quantifiable effect on mood.”

For uplifting mood enhancement try:

  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Lime
  • Tangerine
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Jasmine
  • Rose
  • Cinnamon

Forget Your Pain

Sometimes a good amount of your physical pain can be exacerbated by your mind. Utilizing aromatherapy has shown to calm and relieve anxiety associated with pain. Lavender, the same that Dr. Gattefosse was using in his lab, is linked to calming the CNS (central nervous system)

The Mayo Clinic reports that smaller studies suggest that aromatherapy with lavender oil may help:

  • Reduce pain for people with osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Improve quality of life for people with dementia
  • Reduce pain for people with kidney stones

Shut Eye

Lavender oil has also been connected to improving sleep. As the CNS calms, so does the ability to produce melatonin more readily which in turn could improve your sleep. Researchers at the Department of Psychology, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut published a study in Chronobiology International citing lavender as a beneficial sleep aid. It was described in the abstract,

“Subjects received an intermittent presentation of an olfactory (lavender oil) or a control (distilled water) stimulus. Lavender increased the percentage of deep or slow-wave sleep (SWS) in men and women. All subjects reported higher vigor the morning after lavender exposure, corroborating the restorative SWS increase. Lavender also increased stage 2 (light) sleep, and decreased rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep and the amount of time to reach wake after first falling asleep. Lavender serves as a mild sedative and has practical applications for promoting deep sleep in young men and women…”

Breathe Deep

Sometimes all you may need is a couple of whiffs of peppermint or even eucalyptus to clear those passageways and breathe easier. Whether you have a mild cold or complete sinus congestion using strong, spicy smells have shown to be just as beneficial as some OTC (over-the-counter) medications.

According to the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research ( Vol. 7(7), 2015, 474-476), the link to peppermint and breathing is discussed,

“Inhalation of peppermint oil increases the nasal air force and thus supplies more air into the lungs. In a few studies it was also claimed that it makes the lung surfactant more efficient enabling better pulmonary function. In a study where the effect of peppermint on athletic activity was tested it showed that the subjects had a faster breathing rate and as a result, lower arterial carbon dioxide manipulation.”

Essential oils have a multitude of applications but enhancing mood, relieving pain, helping sleep and improving respiration are 4 benefits of aromatherapy that make it worth giving a try.