Relax With Aromatherapy

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In aromatherapy, fragrant essential oils are used to improve a patient’s mood or health. These oils are distilled from the leaves, roots, blossoms, or seeds of plants. The use of aromatherapy dates back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Indians, Greeks, and Romans. In modern times, a French chemist named Rene Maurice Gattefosse is credited with accidently discovering the healing properties of lavender oil and then researching the uses of essential oils. In 1937, he published a book on modern aromatherapy, coining the term that remains in use today. In recent decades, aromatherapy has gained popularity as a form of alternative or complementary therapy.

How Aromatherapy Works

Opinions differ as to exactly how aromatherapy works. In general, scent receptors in the nose send chemical messages to the parts of the brain that affect memory, emotional response, respiration, heart rate, and blood pressure. An individual’s previous associations with particular scents may affect their reactions. Additionally, when the essential oils are used directly on the skin they may interact with hormones or enzymes in the blood.

Benefits of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy relieves pain, reduces stress, improves your mood, and helps people relax. In combination with other therapies, it can also help relieve depression. The American Cancer Society states that though evidence does not suggest that it prevents or treats cancer, it is effective in enhancing a patient’s quality of life, helping to reduce pain, stress, nausea, and depression.

Laboratory research suggests that essential oils may have antibacterial and antifungal properties, which strengthen the immune system, aid digestion, and help with premenstrual syndrome and menopause. However, human studies have not definitively verified these claims. Other conditions that essential oils may help relieve include hair loss, agitation related to dementia, itching as a side effect of dialysis, and psoriasis.

Scents to Use

Individual people react differently to various scents. Your individual memories influence how aromas affect your mood. Some scents, however, are widely used to treat particular ailments. For most people, scents such as rose, orange, lavender, lemon, and sandalwood help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Eucalyptus, jasmine, clove, basil, marjoram and peppermint help with fatigue. Chamomile, ginger, cinnamon and eucalyptus help relieve headaches.

In one study, breathing in the aroma of black pepper extract reduced people’s craving for tobacco and inhaling the vapors of ginger, peppermint and cardamom oil appears to alleviate nausea caused by radiation and chemotherapy. These are just examples of the multitudes of fragrances available to treat a wide variety of physical and psychological ailments.

How to Apply Aromatherapy

If you want to use aromatherapy as an alternative or complementary treatment, first consult your primary health care provider. Though practitioners of aromatherapy generally aren’t licensed, many physical therapists, massage therapists, nurses, pharmacists, and psychologists have training in and knowledge of aromatherapy. The essential oils, used either individually or in combination, can be inhaled or applied to the skin.

One method of skin application is adding essential oils to your bathwater. For massage, the essential oils are combined with another ingredient, usually some form of vegetable oil, as the pure undiluted oils can irritate skin. For inhalation, a few drops of oil are placed in atomizers, vaporizers, humidifiers, steaming water, or a heatproof dish over a candle to disperse the scent. Reed diffusers are essential oils in a glass or jar in which wooden reeds have been inserted to absorb and release the scent. These create a soothing ambiance in your home environment.

Aromatherapy is a simple, natural method of enhancing your well-being, both physically and mentally.


This article was written by health blogger Laura Green, who recommends aromatherapy for relaxation and thinks keeping a reed diffuser in your bedroom with a relaxing fragrance is a great way to improve sleep.