If you need improvement in health problems from anxiety to poor sleep, you may want to consider aromatherapy. In this kind of treatment, you use extracts from plants called essential oils, by either breathing them through your nose or putting them on your skin.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are made from flower, herb, and tree parts, like bark, roots, peels, and petals. The cells that give a plant its fragrant smell are its "essence." When an essence is extracted from a plant, it becomes an essential oil.
It takes a lot of plant product to make essential oils. More than 200 pounds of lavender flowers are used to make just 1 pound of lavender essential oil.
Not all products made with plant essence are essential oils. True essential oils aren't blended with other chemicals or fragrances. They're made using a specific process that doesn't change the chemistry of the plant.
Lemon, chamomile, lavender, cedarwood, and bergamot are a few of the essential oils used regularly in aromatherapy.
How Aromatherapy Works
Aromatherapy activates areas in your nose called smell receptors, which send messages through your nervous system to your brain.
The oils may activate certain areas of your brain, like your limbic system, which plays a role in your emotions. They could also have an impact on your hypothalamus, which may respond to the oil by creating feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin.
What Is Aromatherapy Used For?
You shouldn't use aromatherapy instead of your regular medical treatment. But for some conditions, research shows that aromatherapy can have health benefits:
- Ease stress, anxiety, and depression
- Boost feelings of relaxation
- Improve sleep
- Help improve quality of life for people with long-term health problems like dementia
- Ease certain types of pain, including pain from kidney stones and osteoarthritis of the knee
- Fight bacteria on your skin
- Ease some of the side effects of cancer treatment, like nausea and pain