Essential oils are growing in popularity, but what does the research say? Here’s how essential oils can help.
Do perfumes have the power to ease your pain or improve your mood? Is aromatherapy a fad or an important part of a holistic approach to healing?
Is your nose a gateway to your brain?
Experts are delving into these kinds of questions and finding that powerful herbal scents may have a place in the science of health and healing. While many people are looking for natural (and safe) remedies for sleep disorders, chronic pain, and more, essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, ginger, and spearmint are gaining popularity due to their effectiveness. .
Admittedly, research is limited. But some small studies suggest that aromatherapy may be beneficial. Many people report that essential oils help them feel better by relieving nausea, soothing sore muscles, or promoting relaxation after a stressful day.
What is an essential oil ” ?
Essential oils are extracted from flowers, fruits, leaves or seeds in order to capture the aromatic “essence” of the plants from which they come. The result is a super-concentrated oil that can be inhaled, massaged in, or added to lotions or bath water. The idea is that these botanical scents target olfactory receptors in the nose, triggering effects that travel through the nervous system to the brain. When absorbed through the skin, some oils are also said to have antifungal or antibacterial effects.
Essential oils to manage pain
Researchers who studied aromatherapy as a way to relieve pain after surgery found that people who tried it not only managed to better manage their pain, but also reported more satisfaction with their care. Of course, essential oils are only part of a post-surgery pain management plan.
Women in labor have also reported positive results using scents such as rose, lavender, and frankincense. In one study, these scents seemed to help alleviate anxiety and fear, and reduce the need for painkillers.
Which essential oils to find a better sleep?
Chamomile tea and lavender lotion at bedtime are well-known sleep enhancers. But are they really effective? Studies of hospitalized patients answer in the affirmative. They have shown that these scents can promote relaxation and improve sleep.
Even professional caregivers can benefit. In a study of shift-working nurses, participants slept better after an aromatherapy massage at the end of a night shift.
What about indigestion and nausea?
Stomach discomfort can be a side effect of many illnesses, from pregnancy to cancer. But studies suggest that essential oils can help. One study showed that people with leukemia who used the lavender, chamomile, or peppermint of their choice had relief from nausea and poor appetite. In another study, peppermint essential oils helped some pregnant women relieve nausea and vomiting during labor.
One can also use a cotton ball containing a drop or two of ginger or spearmint essential oil to relieve their nausea.
How to feel better with aromatherapy
Regardless of the health benefits of aromatherapy, using scents that you enjoy or feel good about can help you relax and feel better. Sometimes lemon essential oil for headaches and mental fatigue, or tangerine to help with restlessness, anxiety, nausea, and sleep.
How to use aromatherapy safely
When used the right way, most essential oils are safe. But it’s important to remember that they are powerful and not all can be used equally. For example, an oil that is safe to use in a diffuser may not be safe for the skin. In fact, some citrus oils can cause serious burns if you apply them directly to your skin and expose yourself to the sun.
It is also important to follow the instructions and dilute the oils correctly. For example, you can put a few drops in water for an aromatherapy diffuser or in a neutral “carrier” oil, such as vegetable oil, coconut oil or jojoba oil, before applying. on the skin.
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Karadag E, et al. Effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality and anxiety of patients. Nursing in Critical Care. 2017;22:105.
Cho MY, et al. Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care units. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013;2013:e1. Accessed Aug. 25, 2017.
ChangYY, et al. The effects of aromatherapy massage on sleep quality of nurses on monthly rotating night shifts. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017;2017:e1. Accessed Aug. 25, 2017.
Blackburn L, et al. The effect of aromatherapy on insomnia and other common symptoms among patients with acute leukemia. Oncology Nursing Forum. 2017;4:e185.
Aromatherapy. University of Maryland Medical Center. Accessed Aug. 25, 2017.
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