What’s the Science Behind Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. Whether you’re diffusing them, using aromatherapy necklaces and bracelets, or enjoying them as part of a massage, advocates of aromatherapy use essential oils to treat everything from headache to insomnia to nausea. The mental health benefits of aromatherapy are also well-documented, and essential oils feature prominently in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
Despite their popularity, the science behind how and why aromatherapy works is still fairly new. Read on to learn what researchers have discovered about the science behind aromatherapy, and also what remains to be discovered.
First, a Little History
Although it has been called by many names, people have been using aromatherapy for thousands of years. 5000 years ago, Mesopotamians used essential oils in rituals and ceremonies, believing that the fragrances gave them greater access to the spiritual realm. Ancient Egyptians used essential oils for perfumes, medicines, and mummification.
The practice closest to our modern day version of aromatherapy, using fragrance to enhance mood and health, probably originates in ancient Chinese medicine, and was adopted by other civilizations as well. In ancient Greece, for instance, essential oils were used to fight the black plague and for general healing purposes.
It could be argued that these ancient folks knew that aromatherapy made them feel better, but didn’t quite know why, and honestly, that’s still about where we are today. While there have been some clinical trials focusing on the efficacy of aromatherapy, particularly for cancer patients dealing with nausea and insomnia, the data is limited.
This lack of research doesn’t mean aromatherapy doesn’t work, it simply means that more studies are needed to understand the hows and whys behind its effectiveness. Still though, it’s worth briefly reviewing what the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and The National Center for Biotechnology say about the efficacy of aromatherapy.
What Does The Science Say?
According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies have shown that aromatherapy might have health benefits, including:
- Relief from anxiety and depression
- Management of symptoms for people with chronic health conditions
- Insomnia relief
- Reduce pain for people with osteoarthritis of the knee
- Improve quality of life for people with dementia
- Reduce pain for people with kidney stones
- Low appetite
- Dry mouth
Further research has shown that aromatherapy can calm stress and also provide anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and fever-reducing effects. Aromatherapy has also been used to treat headaches, skin problems, sinus issues, and respiratory ailments.
Aromatherapy has been used to especially good effect in cancer patients, particularly in improving their sleep quality. Similarly, oils like lavender, lemon, frankincense, bergamot, orange, and peppermint were effective in alleviating nausea and encouraging relaxation among cancer patients.
How Aromatherapy Might Work
Properly administered aromatherapy can boost your mood and improve your general health. We don’t know exactly why yet, but if aromatherapy makes you feel better, we say, go for it. The science will catch up eventually.
But for you nerds and other inquisitive folks out there who want to understand why something is working, aromatherapy is thought to stimulate the smell receptors in your nose, which then send messages through your nervous system to your limbic system, including your amygdala — the part of your brain that controls emotions.
These positive feelings radiating from your brain can not only help alleviate anxiety and depression, they can also have real impacts on physical symptoms, such as joint pain and nausea. They can also increase focus, boost mood, and pave the way for deeper relaxation, which positively impacts your overall health.
Here at Jereomeo, we’re aficionados of all things aromatherapy.
Our own line of PureomEO™ essential oils are sourced from the highest-quality ingredients and contain only all-natural, plant-based ingredients with no animal products, preservatives, or synthetics. Every batch of essential oil is lab tested and analyzed for quality assurance.Order online or stop by our North Loop shop today, and pick up the oils you need to keep yourself feeling happy and healthy!