What is aromatherapy good for?
Aromatherapy is used in a wide range of settings — from health spas to hospitals — to treat a variety of conditions. In general, it seems to relieve pain, improve mood, and promote a sense of relaxation. In fact, several essential oils — including lavender, rose, orange, bergamot, lemon, sandalwood, and others — have been shown to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.
Several clinical studies suggest that when essential oils particularly rose, lavender, and frankincense were used by qualified midwives, pregnant women felt less anxiety and fear, had a stronger sense of well being, and had less need for pain medications during delivery. Many women also report that peppermint oil relieves nausea and vomiting during labor.
Massage therapy with essential oils combined with medications or therapy may benefit people with depression. The scents are thought by some to stimulate positive emotions in the area of the brain responsible for memories and emotions, but the benefits seem to be related to relaxation caused by the scents and the massage.
A person’s belief that the treatment will help also influences whether it works.In one study, Neroli oil helped reduce blood pressure and preprocedure anxiety among people undergoing a colonoscopy.
In test tubes, chemical compounds from some essential oils have shown antibacterial and anti fungal properties. Some evidence also suggests that citrus oils may strengthen the immune system and that peppermint oil may help with digestion. Fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary sage have estrogen like compounds, which may help relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and menopause. However, human studies are lacking.
Other conditions for which aromatherapy may be helpful include:
Alopecia areata hair loss
Agitation, possibly including agitation related to dementia
Constipation with abdominal massage using aromatherapy
Pain: Studies have found that people with rheumatoid arthritis, cancer using topical chamomile, and headaches using topical peppermint require fewer pain medications when they use aromatherapy
Itching, a common side effect for those receiving dialysis
Should anyone avoid aromatherapy?
Pregnant women, people with severe asthma, and people with a history of allergies should only use essential oils under the guidance of a trained professional and with full knowledge of your physician.Pregnant women and people with a history of seizures should avoid hyssop oil.
People with high blood pressure should avoid stimulating essential oils, such as rosemary and spike lavender.
People with estrogen dependent tumors such as breast or ovarian cancer should not use oils with estrogen like compounds such as fennel, aniseed, sage, and clary-sage.
People receiving chemotherapy should talk to their doctor before trying aromatherapy.