Does Aromatherapy Help (and If It Does, With What)

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There are over 400 essential oils made from flowers, fruits and other plants used for aromatherapy, which has been believed to be beneficial for many conditions, as well as relaxation.

Aromatherapists say that this kind of therapy can improve mood, reduce stress levels and have a positive impact on your body. The oils used have different properties that are believed to be good for certain purposes, such like lavender oil which is supposed to aid sleeping problems, help the body muscles relax and relieve anxiety.

Among other, aromatherapy methods also include essential oil room spray, massage with aromatherapy oils (which are said to relax both the mind and the body), and baths.

Several essential oils used for aromatherapy are believed to relieve depression. Those oils are jasmine, rose, basil, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, neroli, etc. According to Dr. Mason Turner, Chief of Psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, aromatherapy “really can help bring the person into the present moment” and it works best when combined with meditation or massage.

According to CancerResearchUK, many people with cancer enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy as it helps with some of the symptoms cancer brings along, such as pain, anxiety, stress, tiredness, depression.


Even though there is no scientific evidence that aromatherapy helps with physical problems by improving the immune system, fighting off colds and bacterial infections, making periods less painful, and helping with headaches and indigestion, many people claim that it helped and they continue using it.

Although researchers haven’t come to a conclusion on how exactly aromatherapy works, many believe that smell of the oil plays the main role, as the nose uses smell receptors and sends signals to your brain which evoke emotions and memories. This way, aromatherapy may have a positive influence on mental and physical health and cause positive emotions.

Numerous clinical studies found that some essential oils, such as rose and lavender, were used in the past by qualified midwifes to calm pregnant women and reduce their sense of fear while making them more positive and less prone to pain during childbirth. Essential oils, such as peppermint is also known to have been used to reduce nausea that occurs in the course of labor.

One study conducted by the researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center found that some essential oils have antibacterial properties and that they are beneficial and useful for boosting the immune system. The same study found that peppermint oil can improve digestion, while fennel, sage and aniseed help with menstrual problems due to their compounds resembling estrogens.

The University of Maryland also found that aromatherapy can help with conditions such as alopecia areata which causes people to lose their hair, agitation (even the kind associated to dementia), anxiety, insomnia and even constipation. The researchers explained that aromatherapy can even alleviate pain in people with rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and headaches, and that those people that use aromatherapy need less medications to feel better.

People on dialysis commonly experience itching, and the mentioned university also found that aromatherapy may reduce these symptoms.

All these claims are based on studies of people’s experiences. There haven’t been many studies that found how exactly aromatherapy is effective for people and more research needs to be conducted in order to be sure about the benefits of this sort of alternative treatment.