More people use aromatherapy on a daily basis without realizing it than we are aware of. Lighting a candle, smelling flowers or even baking at the end of the day is a type of aromatherapy that people use to relieve stress. What the average American doesn’t realize is the extent to which we can use aromatherapy and how much we can benefit from it. Andrea Butje, Elizabeth Repede, and Mona Shattell, author’s of article Healing Scents; An Overview of Clinical Aromatherapy for emotional distress, found that “Clinical aromatherapy shows promise as a safe alternative or complement to traditional health care interventions to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and improve mood”. With the proper knowledge and understanding aromatherapy can be used to promote uplifting, refreshing, balancing feelings, it can aid in concentration, can be used for sedating, relaxing, and calming, as well as be used as an antiseptic
Aromatherapy uses essential oils to achieve its benefits. There are multiple systems in which essential oils can be delivered to a person and the choice is predominantly dependent on personal preference, and partly on the oil’s strength and capabilities. Essential oils can be applied directly to ones skin, can use a carrier such as lotion or a base oil like olive or vegetable oil.They are also effective in a bath, in a room spray or through special diffusers.
However, studies have found that the most effective route application route for decreasing anxiety and slowing an overactive mind is inhalation. Thousands of different genes control the production of the specialization of the receptors in the nose. Through their research on previous literature, Butje, Repede and Shattell found that thousands of different genes control the production of the specialization of the receptors in the nose. The receptor cells are unique and is designed to only recognize a certain few molecules odors. When an odor creates a response it is neurologically transmitted to the olfactory bulb in the brain where the different receptors combine the information they contain creating a pattern that is perceived as a distinct odor in multiple areas in the cerebral cortex and the limbic system. The way aromatherapy works, is through this process, when odors are inhaled they activate the release of endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine and modulate neuro receptors in the immune system, altering mood, reducing anxiety and interrupting the stress response.
Aromatherapy has been used for over 6,000 years coming from the far east, Egypt, China, Europe, and India. Although it is a growing trend amongst those who seek information of complementary alternative medicines, aromatherapy is not typically used in U.S. traditional medicine, it is very common in other countries. For example, “[a]romatherapy is currently taught in French medical schools, prescribed by European physicians, reimbersed by many European health insurers, and used in Japanese factories to enhance worker productivity and the spread of airborne infectious diseases” (Robins, 1999, Quoted in: Healing Scents; an overveiw of clinical aromatherapy for emotion distress, Butje, Repede, Shattell p. 47, 2008).
Seeing that aromatherapy is widespread around the world, it only seems that its use will grow here more and more. With the U.S. being the melting pot of people from all over the globe, more and more are bringing the knowledge to us where certain people are catching on and encouraging the growth, use, and education of essential oils. The philosophy of aromatherapy is that specific odors or aromas can promote healing by affecting psycho neuroimmune functions.
Lavender, is an essential oil that is often used to decrease anxiety, improve mood, and increase sedation. The reason we have these effects when we inhale the essential oil of lavender is because of the “parasympathetic stimulation of the autonomic nervous system, leading to increased beta power and decreased contingent negative variation on encephalogram. Helping overall with our mood and anxiousness. Understanding that aromatherapy can have positive effects on a being’s stress level it is clear that it can be used for health promotion.
Knowing the long term effects of chronic stress can lead to the assumption that aromatherapy can also be used as a preventative measure from fatal diseases. There was a recent study that showed using oil of ginger or a blend of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom to be an effective treatment in reducing nausea severity occurring after surgery in an acute care setting. This randomized trial makes it evident that aromatherapy can be and is used as a treatment or cure for illness or complications.
Consider next time, an alternative therapy such as Aromatherapy for Healing and Rejuvenation. Until next time!
Written by intern: Sadie Laliberte