The Essence of Aromatherapy
While the oils associated with aromatherapy might not be able to cure illnesses, they can soothe frazzled nerves and ease side effects from other treatments.
Lavender is one of the signature scents of the alternative medicine管家婆精选四消期期准 approach known as aromatherapy. Used for centuries by many cultures, aromatherapy relies on highly concentrated essential oils from plants — thought to affect your body, mood, and overall well-being in a more profound way than just having a nice smell.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
管家婆精选四消期期准Soothing scents may directly affect the amygdala and hippocampus, two brain structures that are linked to your experience of memory and emotions. That's why aromatherapy can influence more than just our sense of smell.
管家婆精选四消期期准Additionally, many essential oils contain compounds, called terpenes, which can be absorbed very quickly by the body. From there, practitioners believe that specific scents can affect specific brain functions. For example, lavender is generally regarded as a calming oil; rosemary and lemon oils are thought to be more stimulating.
管家婆精选四消期期准Exactly how aromatherapy works has yet to be determined, and there may be other chemical interactions between essential oils and your body that may add to the effect.
Aromatherapy: Nothing More than a Sweet Smell?
Some studies have shown that there is no measurable physiological impact of essential oils and that people’s expectations are a powerful predictor of their aromatherapy experience.
“We found only one positive effect in our study of aromatherapy — smelling lemon oil enhances positive mood pretty reliably. I have trouble saying that aromatherapy works well for any specific condition,” says Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of the division of health psychology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, Ohio.
Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser and her team designed a study to test the effects of lavender essential oil, lemon oil, and plain water mist on 56 healthy participants. Kiecolt-Glaser says people shouldn’t expect great therapeutic results. “I think of it like perfume. If you enjoy the smell, that's great, as long as you're not expecting it to have therapeutic effects.”
However, other studies have found positive results. The effects of aromatherapy are continuously being researched, and there are some areas in which experts have seen beneficial results:
- Dementia. Recent studies show lemon balm essential oils can help calm agitation in people suffering from dementia and may also improve their quality of life.
- Side effects of cancer treatments. The use of aromatherapy for patients going through cancer treatments has been shown to reduce nausea and improve pulse and breathing rates.
- Antibacterial. Studies on animals showed that essential oils applied to the skin may be an effective antibacterial treatment.
- Depression. Massage therapy combined with aromatherapy can help depression.
- Birthing. Certain essential oils, such as lavender and rose, can help calm women who are about to give birth.
- Menopause. Rose geranium and jasmine essential oils used with massage therapy have been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms.
Aromatherapy: The Facts Beyond the Fragrance
管家婆精选四消期期准Aromatherapy may be used in combination with other treatments, such as massage therapy or acupuncture, which can enhance the positive benefits of both alternative medicine approaches.
There are a few ways to apply aromatherapy. You can use a diffuser to spread the scent of an essential oil throughout your space, spray or place drops of an essential oil around you, or dilute the essential oil with another oil, like almond oil, and massage it into your skin.
管家婆精选四消期期准Although aromatherapy has few side effects, there are a few factors to keep in mind:
- Women who are at high risk for breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive cancers should avoid lavender and tea tree oil, which have estrogen-like effects.
- People with asthma may find that essential oils trigger an attack.
- Pregnant women should avoid essential oils in their first trimester because of the theoretical possibility of risk to the developing fetus.
- People with high blood pressure should avoid essential oils, such as rosemary, which are stimulants.
- Essential oils can irritate your skin, which is why it is important to mix them with a neutral oil or lotion.
Other rare side effects can include headache, rash, and nerve damage. Never eat or drink essential oils without specific guidance from a trained health care provider管家婆精选四消期期准. While aromatherapy cannot cure illness, it can complement your treatments and ease the side effects and symptoms. Another great reason to make sure you always stop and smell the roses!