Submitted by Melinda McKay, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC
Did you know scent can have a positive impact on your health? Aromatherapy is the art of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit and essential oils are plant extracts that come from bark, trees, plants or flowers.
How does aromatherapy work?
Essential oils are either inhaled or absorbed by the skin. When you inhale the scent, it travels to the amygdala in your brain, which is the emotion center of the brain provoking an emotional response. Researchers are still doing studies on the effectiveness of aromatherapy, but some studies have found that aromatherapy can be helpful for anxiety, depression, insomnia, nausea and boosting energy.
The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate essential oils.
Which scents should I use?
There are more than 90 types of essential oils, each with its own unique smell and potential health benefits. Popular essential oils and their uses include:
- Lavender: used for relaxation, stress and anxiety relief, restful sleep and pain reduction
- Peppermint: used to relieve headaches, fight fatigue, boost energy, lift mood and aids in digestion
- Lemon: used as a mood booster and to improve concentration
- Sandalwood: used to calm nerves, release tension and help with focus
- Bergamot: used to reduce stress and improve skin conditions like eczema
- Rose: used to improve mood and reduce anxiety
- Chamomile: used to improve mood and relaxation
- Ylang-Ylang: used to treat headaches, nausea, and skin conditions
- Tea Tree: used to fight infections and boost immunity
We recommend that you always check with your healthcare provider before adding any new complementary therapy, including aromatherapy, to your wellness regimen.
Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work? Johns Hopkins Medicine
Essential Oils 101: Do They Work + How Do You Use Them? Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials