Aromatherapy is an ancient practice which uses the essential oils extracted from plants to treat and heal imbalances in the body and mind to improve health and emotions. Aromatherapy stress relief is actually a form of herbal medicine, but instead of using the entire herb aromatherapy uses the fragrance and essence of the herb compressed into an oil. Inhaling the scents of these essential oils is said to interact with your brain to cause a strong positive impact on your mood.
Each scent of aromatherapy essential oils is carefully tested to make sure that it evokes a pleasant response when inhaled or used as a massage oil. Among the most popular scents used for aromatherapy stress relief are Lavender, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Chamomile, Marjoram, Jasmine, Peppermint, Lemon, Ylang Ylang, and Geranium.
Why does aromatherapy work?
Aromatherapy is effective because your sense of smell is extremely powerful. Your sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than any of your other senses, and smell recognition is immediate. Your other senses like touch and taste must travel through the body before reaching the brain to cause a response. Your nose directly exposes your brain and central nervous system immediately to the scents and smells in your environment. Your brain is influenced by all of your senses, but your sense of smell has the most profound effect of them all.
The commercial industry knows how important scents and smells are and they play to your sense of smell in practically every product that is produced. The perfume industry is built around your sense of smell, and so is just about every other industry. If a product has an unpleasant scent, companies know you will not buy it no matter how effective the product performs.
One of the earliest products to capitalize on the benefits of aromatherapy is Vicks Vapor Rub. The aroma of Vicks has been used for decades to ease the symptoms of a cold and flu. In fact, aromatherapy itself has been around for more than 6000 years. Greeks, Romans, and ancient Egyptians all used aromatherapy for bathing, massages, perfumes, incenses and even embalming.
Studies of Aromatherapy
Clinical trials suggest that aromatherapy may produce positive benefits as a complementary treatment in reducing stress, pain, nausea, and depression. Proponents also say aromatherapy can help relieve bacterial infections, stimulate the immune system, fight colds, flu, sore throats, improve urine production, increase circulation, relieve headaches, indigestion, muscle tension, stress, anxiety, and insomnia.
Clinical Trials on Aromatherapy
Controlled studies have found that lavender essential oils used in aromatherapy is helpful for calming people with Alzheimer’s by modestly decreasing agitated behavior.
- A study of depressed men showed that the citrus aromatherapy
fragrance reduced their intake of antidepressants.
- Research has shown that the essential oil Ylang Ylang causes the
pituitary gland to secrete more euphoric endorphins.
- Grapefruit essential oil has been found to stimulate the brain to produce
the natural painkiller called enkephalin.
And studies have found that the scent of the essential oil Marjoram boosts the production of the calming neurotransmitter called serotonin.
List of Essential Oils
Here’s a list of aromatherapy essential oils that are generally regarded as being uplifting and have been found to have a positive impact on relieving stress and depression.
Popular Stress Relief Aromatherapy Essential Oils
Aromatherapy essential oils are highly concentrated and said to interact with the body’s hormones and enzymes to cause the positive changes in stimulating the body’s ability to fight pain, promoting relaxation, relieve stress, depression, insomnia, and positively impacting high blood pressure.
How to Use Aromatherapy
The essential oils of aromatherapy can be inhaled, massaged into the skin or used in a bath. Preferences of pleasing scents are highly personal, and you may have to try a few to find the essential oil that you prefer. Even if you have a smell disorder you can still use essential oils for massage or to bathe with to achieve some of the benefits of aromatherapy.
Candles, incense, and potpourri are some of the more common methods used to inhale the fragrances of the aromatherapy essential oils, but diffusers are among the most popular. Diffusers are highly regarded by aromatherapists and alternative health practitioners, because the process is one of the safest and cleanest ways to disperse scents into the air.
Incense and potpourri often have synthetic scents, which can counteract the therapeutic effect of the essential oils and interfere with the natural potency of the oils fragrance. Aromatherapy candles and light bulb rings designed to hold the essential oils can get pretty hot and can alter the composition of the oils fragrance and reduce its true effectiveness.
Diffusers utilize a low heat to release fragrance into the air and better preserve the integrity of the oils. The scent released by diffusers is usually more aromatic and therefore more effective. There are several different kinds of diffusers, but using this method usually helps the fragrance to last longer, helps the scents cover a wider area, and helps release a more effective and consistent strengthen of the aroma of the essential oils.
To maximize the benefits of aromatherapy essential oils it is also important to create the ideal atmosphere. To enjoy the complete therapeutic effects, you should use the oils in a proper, tranquil and restful setting. Although aromatherapy essential oils are powerful, the effect can be minimized if not used in the proper manner.
Precautions with Aromatherapy
Many of the essential oils are potent and can be dangerous if swallowed or taken internally. Keep them out of the reach of children.
- People with certain chronic illnesses or conditions should not use aromatherapy without first consulting your doctor.
- Lung conditions – such as asthma, allergies, and chronic lung disease may become irritated by the oils.
- Allergies – some oils may cause skin irritation, especially to the membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth.
- Pregnancy – Juniper, Rosemary and Sage may cause uterine contractions in pregnant women.
Aromatherapy will not cure depression or disease, but using the authentic essential oils can be emotionally uplifting and may help relieve tension, stress, anxiety, and promote a general sense of wellness.