Alternative therapies like aromatherapy are centuries-old practices that have increased in popularity. For over 5,000 years, aromatherapy has been a trusted practice, spanning cultures worldwide. Natural healers turn to the use of essential oils because of their analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. Nowadays, massage centers, yoga studios, spas, chiropractic offices, and hospice settings alike regularly incorporate aromatherapy into the therapies they offer.
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing practice that uses natural plant extracts to promote better health and well-being. Some people refer to it as essential oil therapy because aromatherapy incorporates essential oils and other aromatic plant compounds. Humans have used aromatherapy for thousands of years, with historical accounts documenting essential oil use in China, India, and Egypt. Researchers attribute the distillation of essential oils to the Persians in the 10th century, although the practice may have been used prior to this.
Aromatic plant components were used in resins, oils, and balms for medicinal, beauty, and religious purposes. And while essential oils may have been used for The therapy uses essential oils in a medicinal way to enhance physical, mental, and emotional health. Aromatherapy is viewed both as an art and a science, and it has recently gained more recognition for its benefits in the fields of medicine and science. Read on to learn how aromatherapy can benefit your overall health.
May Improve Sleep Quality
Many essential oils give off scents that help reduce stress and allow you to unwind. This can be very useful if you experience difficulty falling asleep, for example, if you suffer from insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or anxiety. Lavender essential oil, ylang ylang essential oil, rose essential oil, and chamomile essential oil are excellent options. About an hour before you go to sleep, diffuse one of the aforementioned essential oils in an electronic diffuser or oil burner. Diffusing essential oils works to release particles into the air that you inhale through the nostrils. These chemicals travel to the brain, where they cross the blood-brain barrier.
Helps Reduce Fatigue And Enhance Alertness
A study in the International Journal of Neuroscience monitored 40 people that experienced depression and mental fatigue. Researchers noted that aromatherapy positively affected alertness, competency on testing, and overall mood. 40 adults received three minutes of aromatherapy using one of two essential oils: rosemary or lavender. Participants completed math problems and surveys following essential oil exposure. The group that was exposed to lavender essential oil increased beta power, which suggests that lavender increases tiredness. Even though this group felt more drowsy, they did perform math problems more accurately and faster following aromatherapy. Finally, the rosemary group displayed decreased frontal alpha and beta power, which suggests that rosemary increases alertness. This group also experienced lower anxiety scores and they completed math problems quickly.
Many studies have found that various essential oils, when used in aromatherapy practices, help promote relaxation. Specifically, lavender and chamomile essential oils aid with stress reduction and relief from anxiety. Lavender, in particular, may have a universal calming effect that lowers activation of the sympathetic nervous system. This is responsible for the body’s fight-or-flight response and physical symptoms, including sweaty palms and accelerated heart rate. One study found that patients who received aromatherapy showed improvements in mood and levels of anxiety. They felt less anxious and more positive following the therapy.
Helps With Respiratory Issues
There are several essential oils that have antiseptic properties and work to cleanse bacteria, fungus, and mold from the air. Bacteria, fungus, and mold can all cause respiratory problems, including coughing, sneezing, or congestion. According to research, using citrus essential oils in aromatherapy practices may enhance immune function and reduce fatigue from depression. For example, orange and lemon essential oils work to restore stress-induced immunosuppression and homeostatic balance. If you don’t want to use a diffuser, you can dilute essential oils in a carrier oil and apply it to your chest. This can help open your sinuses and airways, allowing for easier breathing.