The human sense of smell is hardly as developed as those of many animals, nonetheless, we still manifest strong negative or positive reactions to different odours. Throughout centuries, it has been known that simply smelling certain fragrances can help elevate mood and get rid of care and worry, albeit momentarily.
Aromatherapy is based on this marvelous connection between what we smell and the positive reactions produced by the mind and body as a result. Largely, aromatherapy is still considered to be a non-conventional approach to medicine, nonetheless, recent studies now confirm what aromatherapists knew for years – that is a valid branch of healing.
For instance, one study one study shows that pre-operative patients who used aromatherapy with lavender oil reported being less anxious about their procedure compared to patients in the control group.
Before we delve deeper into aromatherapy and how it can be a wonderful addition to your lifestyle, it’s necessary to know a little about essential oils.
Essential Oils are the Root, Stem and Branches of Aromatherapy
Most plants produce volatile oils commonly known as essential oils. The fragrance of most flowers and plants come from these oils, which plants use for various purposes, including attracting insects, birds, or bats that assist in pollination. It is simply a happy coincidence that some of these oils have some profound positive effects on humans.
Essential oils are normally extracted by steaming or pressing parts of a plant including the leaves, roots, bark, stems, and roots. In some cases, it could take up to several pounds of a plant to produce just a small bottle of essential oil.
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing approach that uses natural plant extracts to promote good health. Some people call it essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic oils from plants to improve the health of mind, body and spirit. As a result, it focuses on improving both physical and emotional well-being.
Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, the French perfumer, is considered the father of modern aromatherapy. While extracting essential oils for use in fragrances, he came to realize the effects of different odors on mind and body. He even went ahead to write a book in the 20th century which is still relevant to today’s aromatherapy practices.
Most essential oils are considered volatile because they evaporate and react quickly. When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils are picked up by the olfactory nerves which connects directly to the brain, specifically to the area known as the amygdala – the brain’s emotional center.
Besides inhalation, some essential oils can be absorbed via the skin. For instance, a massage therapist may use a tinge of wintergreen oil to help with muscle relaxation. Or a skin care product may include lavender to bath salts to create a soothing effect while soaking. Keep reading to find out the full and wide ranging benefits of aromatherapy.
The Wholesome Benefits of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy. Therefore, it is not meant to cure diseases, rashes or illnesses. Nonetheless, it can work to support conventional treatment of various conditions in many ways as you can see below.
1. Reducing Stress
Stress is a part of life that affects each individual very differently. While it is almost impossible to avoid stress, there are many ways to control it.
For instance, lavender is an essential oil that has been scientifically proven to improve mood. Lavender calms the nervous system, lowering heart rate, blood pressure and inspiring positive moods.
The best essential oils for relieving stress includes: lavender, jasmine, lemongrass, geranium and chamomile.
2. Relieving Anxiety
According to data from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety affects an average of 18.1% Americans every year. Imagine, 40 million people struggling with this illness, every day. Although there are conventional drugs that can help, many people prefer natural solutions, thus bringing essential oils into the spotlight once again.
The American College of Healthcare Sciences conducted a study where patients received hand massages once every day for a week. The massage incorporated an essential oil blend with lavender, frankincense and bergamot. The study concluded that patients who received a massage with the essential oil blend reported better results with regards to pain and anxiety management as compared to massage alone.
The best essential oils for relieving anxiety includes: lavender, rose, bergamot and chamomile.
3. Boosting Energy
Are you familiar with the relentless 3p.m afternoon slump? The coffee wears off, you naturally lose steam and your body begs for the fourth cup of coffee. Instead of caffeine, why try a different alternative this time?
There are essential oils that can invigorate the senses, adding that much needed energy boost on a busy day. For instance, all citrus oils, particularly lemon, are filled with antioxidant terpenes such as limonene that naturally energize the body.
Based on a study that appears in the Journal of the Internationals Society of Sports Nutrition, peppermint is shown to boost exercise performance, enhance oxygen concentration in the brain and also decreases the intensity of exhaustion.
The next time life throws you lemon, just smell them!
4. Improving Focus
It is easy to get distracted even for the most focused of us. It gets worse for those with conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder.
Fortunately, there are essential oils that can significantly improve concentration, memory and cognitive performance.
A lot of people turn to essential oils to improve brain function. Thanks to the many antioxidants in essential oils that fight free radicals, aromatherapy is useful for people with conditions including Alzheimer’s, dementia and other mental issues that relate to losing focus.
5. Reducing Physical Pain
The authors of a recent review published in the Journal of Pain Research and Treatment conclude that aromatherapy has a greater positive effect on pain reduction compared to placebos or control treatments. More specifically, essential help most with gynecological, obstetrical and postoperative pain.
The most commonly used essential oils for pain reduction include: turmeric, eucalyptus, chamomile, ginger and thyme.
6. Improving Sleep
When it comes to natural sleeping aids, essential oils win the prize thanks to their strong sedative effects. Research shows that lavender, for instance, enhances restful sleep.
If you check out this study from the Nursing Critical Care Journal, it shows that lavender considerably improved sleep quality among patients in the coronary ICU. Participants who inhaled lavender oil for q5 days reported better sleep compared to the control group who did not receive the therapy.
Examples of the best essential oils for improving sleep are: ylang ylang, chamomile, lavender and bergamot.
7. Enhancing Digestion
Do you often have an upset stomach? Are you struggling with diarrhea and indigestion? Essential oils can provide the much needed support to your digestive health by stimulating the secretion of enzymes necessary for digestion.
For example, ginger oil has established healing properties for those suffering from abdominal pain and difficulty in relieving gas.
8. Strengthening the Immune System
In modern medicine, pathogens that grow resistant to bacteria are becoming a major problem. Essential oils are part of the arsenal being used to fight this threat.
Due to the anti-inflammatory properties found in many essential oils, they are proving effective when fighting infections. As a case in study, oregano is known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties that are effective in fighting against infections.
Some essential oils most commonly used for bolstering the immune system include: oregano, ginger, eucalyptus, myrrh and frankincense.
9. Balancing Hormone Levels
Infertility and PCOS are painful struggles that many of us have go through. Fortunately, a lot can be done. Essential oils including geranium and rose can help women experiencing issues caused by low estrogen levels.
According to research published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters, essential oils can affect estrogen levels and help women experiencing the many symptoms that manifest due to low levels of estrogen, including menopause.
The best essential oils for balancing hormone levels include: geranium, sage and thyme.
†This statement has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is a dietary supplement and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.