I am a very scent-oriented person. Nothing makes me happier than when my surroundings smell good. So naturally, I love the idea of aromatherapy.
I’m going to go ahead and say right now that, while I enjoy aromatherapy, I don’t believe that essential oils should ever be used as an alternative to medical treatment. I think of them more as the icing on the cake: a nice addition, but not totally necessary.
If you’ve ever wondered about whether or not aromatherapy is actually useful, or you know you want to try it but aren’t sure where to start, this post is for you!
What Is Aromatherapy, Anyway?
Despite what commercials might lead you to believe, spraying air freshener throughout your home isn’t exactly aromatherapy (though that has literally never kept me from shamelessly plugging air fresheners into every room of my house).
Aromatherapy involves using essential oils to improve your physical and/or mental health. Some people extend this into spiritual health as well, but even if you don’t consider yourself a religious or spiritual person, you can benefit from the right application of essential oils.
Aromatherapy involves using essential oils to improve your physical and/or mental health. Some people extend this into spiritual health as well.
But Does Aromatherapy Actually Work?
If you search Google for anything related to essential oils or aromatherapy, you’ll get back hundreds of crunchy mom blogs, holistic healing brands, and all-natural companies singing the miracle praises of essential oils. According to these people, essential oils can prevent, treat, and cure all kinds of health problems.
In reality though, this isn’t quite true.
Here’s what aromatherapy definitely can do for you.
- Elevate your mood
- Help to lessen feelings of anxiety
- Improve relaxation and sleep quality
- Reduce some types of chronic pain
- Relieve feelings of nausea
Certain scents are also able to help improve quality of life for dementia patients, and some people also experience relief from headaches through aromatherapy as well.
The important thing to remember with aromatherapy is that if it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.
One final thing that I can’t stress enough is this: Aromatherapy and essential oil use should never, ever be used instead of actual medicine or advice from a healthcare professional. Always talk to your doctor first if you’re having mental or physical health problems!
How You Can Take Advantage of Aromatherapy
One of the most common ways that people utilize aromatherapy is through diffusers. I personally like using diffusers in my house, but to get the most benefit from the essential oils, it’s actually best to use them in ways that keep them closer to your body.
There are two reasons for this. First, certain essential oils can be irritating or harmful to other people, especially children, pets, and those with health issues like allergies or asthma. Diffusing oils into a closed space around other people could accidentally cause negative side effects for them, so be careful!
Second, keeping the scents close to your body gives you more control. For example, you can use a special inhaler (usually called an “aroma stick”) to sniff the oils you’re using as needed, or you can wear aromatherapy accessories like necklaces and bracelets that lightly waft scent to your nose periodically throughout the day.
If you want to be immersed in a particular scent, you can mix the oil with a plain carrier oil and massage it into your skin. You can also add essential oils to warm baths, compresses, and foot soaks. Just be sure to follow the dilution directions carefully! These oils are extremely concentrated, and they can burn or irritate your skin if they’re not diluted enough.
What the Most Popular Essential Oils Can Do For You
1. Energy boosting
If you want a pleasant pick-me-up, try one or more of these oils:
- Peppermint (or spearmint!)
Most of these oils can also help to lessen feelings of nausea as well.
2. Pain relieving
All of the oils in this list are known for their ability to reduce inflammation in the body, which is often a source of aches and pains.
- Eucalyptus (it’s helpful for relaxing muscles too)
- Chamomile (especially Roman chamomile)
If you deal with headaches, peppermint and eucalyptus are also supposed to help alleviate that kind of pain, too.
3. Calming and relaxing
There are a lot of essential oils that claim to lower stress levels and induce feelings of calm, so don’t be concerned if it takes a few tries for you to find the scent (or combination of scents) that works for you!
Here are a few of the most popular ones:
- Mandarin (this is a warmer citrus scent that’s usually more pleasant than lemon)
- Clary sage
If you want to read more about any of the oils I’ve listed here, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy has created a helpful list outlining all of the benefits of each.
(Oh, and a bonus tip: you can combine eucalyptus and lemongrass to make an effective and pleasant-smelling mosquito repellant. Trust me, it really does work!)
Whew, I threw a lot of info at you, so let me hit the highlights one more time.
- Aromatherapy can work alongside medical treatment to help issues like anxiety, depression, chronic pain, insomnia, nausea, headaches, and inflammation.
- If you have kids, pets, allergies, or any kind of medical conditions, ask your doctor (and vet) before you start using aromatherapy!
- The best way to make aromatherapy work for you is to keep it close to your body via diffuser accessories, portable inhalers, or topical application (like rollerballs).
- There’s a lot of overlap when it comes to the benefits of certain oils, so don’t be afraid to experiment with scent blends!
One final note: Be sure to only buy pure essential oils (not fragrance oils) from reputable companies, even if they cost a bit more. This ensures you’re getting safe, quality products that will give you the most benefit.
And that’s a wrap! Let’s talk aromatherapy in the comments! I’d love to answer questions or learn something new.