Picture it: You come home after a long day of work, and when you walk inside you’re greeted by the serene scent of lavender. Ah, how relaxing. The stress of the day fades away – it’s as if the volume in your head was turned all the way down. You immediately feel a sense of calm and inner peace. Along with promoting relaxation, there are many healing benefits of aromatherapy.
As an all-natural alternative medicine, aromatherapy uses essential oils taken from flowers, peels of plants, leaves, stems, bark, seeds, and roots. When essential oils are inhaled they have been proven to be beneficial for people with various health issues.
Dating back to ancient Egyptians and Greeks, essential oils have been used for both religious and medicinal purposes. During World War I, French soldiers returning home were given aromatherapy not only to treat their wounds, but also to reduce anxiety and the PTSD from battle. Today essential oils can be found everywhere, ranging from candles and perfumes to spa treatments and meditation classes. Essential oils can be used through inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin.
Did you know essential oils are now being used in hospitals? Recognized for their ability to treat anxiety, depression and infection, more and more medical professionals are jumping on board. In fact, many aromatherapists are also massage therapists, psychologists, and chiropractors.
According to one study, pre-operative patients who tried aromatherapy with lavander oil reported being less anxious about their surgery compared to the control group.
“There is some high-quality evidence that essential oils are effective in treating viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections, and in providing relief from sleep difficulties and pain,” says Dr. Wolfgang Stefiltsch, vice president of the Austrian Association of Aromatherapy and Aroma Care. “The oils may also improve moods, such as anxiety, depression, and reduce stress.
How Aromatherapy Works
The essential oils in aromatherapy activate the smell receptors in your nose, which send messages directly to your brain’s limbic system. The limbic system affects your emotions, memory, learning, appetite, and sex drive. Inhaling essential oils stimulates different bodily responses, such as breathing patterns, blood pressure, and heart rate.
You can treat a wide variety of mental and physical problems with aromatherapy. Whether it’s alleviating pain, improving focus, promoting restful sleep or aiding in digestion, there are essential oils that can help with the healing process. Aromatherapy can be used in the following ways: direct inhalation, vaporizer, humidifier, perfume, and aromatherapy diffusers.
It’s also important to note essential oils are powerful and need to be diluted before use. This is why they are combined with carrier oils. The most common carrier oils include avocado oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and olive oil.
We know what you’re thinking: “But doesn’t diluting it decrease the effectiveness?” No. In fact, in this case, less is more. Dilution increases the surface area where the essential oil can be absorbed and as an added bonus, diluting lowers the risk of experiencing any skin sensitivity issues.
The beauty of essential oils is that they typically perform more than one function, so by knowing the benefits of each you can find (or create) a personalized blend to meet your mental and physical health needs.
To help you navigate the world of aromatherapy, I’ve created a guide of the ten healing benefits along with the best essential oils for each
1. Reduces stress
Stress is part of life, and affects everyone in different ways. While it’s nearly impossible to avoid, there are ways to manage it.
The essential oil lavender is scientifically proven to reduce stress. Lavender calms the nervous system, lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and rewires brain waves to help you become more relaxed.
Best Essential Oils for Stress: lavender, lemongrass, geranium, jasmine, and chamomile
2. Relieves anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18.1% of U.S. adults had an anxiety disorder in the past year. That’s 40 million people who suffer from this mental illness every day! As a result, many people are looking for a natural solution, which is why essential oils have become increasingly popular.
In a study by the American College of Healthcare Sciences, patients were given hand massages once a day for one week with an essential oil blend, which consisted of lavender, bergamot and frankincense. Patients reported less pain and depression, and results confirmed that massage with this essential oil blend has stronger healing power when it comes to pain and depression management compared to massage alone.
Best Essential Oils for Anxiety: rose, lavender, bergamot, chamomile
3. Boosts energy
Do you often experience the dreaded 3pm afternoon slump? The coffee has worn off and you’re losing steam. Rather than reach for your fourth cup, why not try a natural alternative to caffeine?
The good news is there are essential oils that can invigorate the senses, and give you that pep in your step. All citrus oils, especially lemon, are filled with antioxidant terpenes such as limonene, which have naturally energizing effects.
According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, peppermint boosts exercise performance, increases brain oxygen concentration, performance and decreases exhaustion.
Are you ready to say goodbye to fatigue and stay energized throughout the day? The next time life gives you lemons, smell ‘em!
Best Essential Oils to Boost Energy: peppermint, lemon
4. Improves focus
Are you struggling to pay attention to the task at hand? When it comes to improving concentration, memory and cognitive performance, essential oils can work wonders.
Improving brain function is one of the top reasons people turn to essential oils. Containing antioxidants that fight free radicals, aromatherapy is helpful for people with Alzheimers, dementia and other mental illnesses.
Best Essential Oils to Improve Focus: rosemary, basil, and sage
5. Reduces physical pain
In a review published in Pain Research and Treatment, aromatherapy has a greater positive impact compared to placebos or control treatments, when it comes to decreasing pain – specifically, gynecological, postoperative and obstetrical pain.
Best Essential Oils to Reduce Physical Pain: eucalyptus, turmeric, chamomile, thyme, and ginger
6. Improves sleep
In terms of effective sleep aids, essential oils are popular for their natural sedative properties. Lavender oil is scientifically-proven to promote restful sleep.
According to a study published in Nursing in Critical Care, lavender oil improved the sleep quality among patients in the coronary intensive care unit. Participants who inhaled lavender oil for 15 days showed significant improvements in their sleep quality compared to the control group that did not receive therapy.
Best Essential Oils to Improve Sleep: chamomile, ylang ylang, and bergamot
7. Aids digestion
Upset stomach? Suffering from diarrhea or indigestion? Essential oils can help support digestive health by stimulating digestive enzymes, which help break down nutrients.
Best Essential Oils to Aid Digestion: ginger, peppermint, fennel, juniper berry
8. Strengthens your immune system
With modern medicine, resistance to antibiotics is becoming a major problem. This is where essential oils come in.
Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, essential oils are useful when it comes to fighting infections. For example, oregano is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties that protect the body against bacterial infections.
Best Essential Oils to Strengthen Your Immune System: oregano, ginger, myrrh, eucalyptus, frankincense
9. Balance your hormone levels
Are you struggling with PCOS or infertility? Essential oils such as rose and geranium are scientifically proven to help women experiencing issues with their estrogen levels.
According to a study published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters, essential oils can affect estrogen and help women experiencing the symptoms that come with menopause and lower levels of estrogen.
Best Essential Oils to Balance Your Hormone Levels: sage, geranium and thyme
10. Boosts hair health naturally
Do you want thicker, stronger hair? Suffer from dandruff or dry scalp? To avoid the use of harsh chemicals, essential oils are now being used in hair products as a safe alternative to promote hair health.
After using rosemary oil for six months, the amount of hair increased significantly among participants in this study with androgenetic alopecia or male or female pattern baldness.
Best Essential Oils for Hair Growth: tea tree, rosemary, myrrh, and helichrysum
Most importantly, pay attention and carefully read safety on products prior to use – especially if you have a medical condition.
Are you ready to experience the healing power of essential oils? If you’re looking for a natural and holistic approach to healthcare, look no further than aromatherapy – and be sure to do your research ahead of time to find the one that’s right for you!
This article originally appeared on Boom.Boom.