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  • by Nicola Boulton September 05, 2022 5 min read

    Does Aromatherapy Work?

    Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils like lavender and tree tea oil for holistic healing. Recent research shows that aromatherapy helps in alleviating stress and anxiety. This article highlights everything concerning aromatherapy, an overview of essential oils, how to use aromatherapy, does aromatherapy work, and the best essential oils used in aromatherapy.

    Aromatherapy, also known as essential oil therapy, uses traditional or complementary therapies incorporating essential oils. Recently, essential oils have been gaining popularity for aiding conditions like sore throat and headaches. However, are they worth the hype, and do they work? Essential oils have been around for quite some time, and individuals use them to improve their general well-being. Various essential oils have been believed to possess antiviral, antifungal, and antioxidant properties that help the body. Aromatherapy includes; inhalation, massage application, and topical application. You should be aware that natural products also contain chemicals; hence you must talk to a doctor before using essential oils.

    Understanding Aromatherapy

    Aromatherapy is the use of essential oil for holistic healing and therapeutic benefit. According to Farrar (2020), aromatherapy has been around for centuries. Gothard (2020) stated that, when inhaling the essential oils, its scent molecules go through the olfactory nerves to the amygdala, which is the emotional part of the brain.

    Overview of Essential Oils

    Essential oils are plant extracts. They are manufactured by pressing parts of a plant such as its flowers, bark, and leaves to extract the compound responsible for fragrance. Cui et al. (2019) commented that, apart from giving a plant its scent, essential oils also benefit the plant in some other ways.

    How to Use Aromatherapy

    Aromatherapy can either be used through inhalation or topically.


    During inhalation, the essential oils vaporize into the air through a spray or diffuser or are breathed in. An example is during a steam bath. Not only does aromatherapy produce a pleasant fragrance but also provides psychological benefits, respiratory decongestants, and disinfection. Essential oils boost the part of the brain responsible for smell. The inhaled molecules first pass through the lungs to other body parts. When they reach the brain, they impact the limbic system, which is connected to blood pressure, heart rate, memory, stress, and emotions. Due to these, it creates a holistic and subtle effect on your body.

    Topical Application

    You should never apply essential oils directly to your skin. Always dilute it with a carrier oil first, such as olive oil. It is recommended that you first massage the area of application since it boosts circulation and increases absorption of the oils into the skin. Aim to apply the essential oils to your body's areas rich in hair follicles for the oils to be absorbed more effectively.

    However, essential oils should not be ingested since they cause liver and kidney damage.

    Does Aromatherapy Work?

    Shuo-Sin, Hsiu-Hung & Fan-Hao (2020) noted that aromatherapy's popularity in treating various serious conditions like memory loss and depression has led to many individuals wondering whether there is any data to back up these claims. However, there is no evidence-supported research that the use of essential oils and aromatherapy can help treat various ailments. However, some studies have explored its benefits on various mental and emotional issues.

    According to the U.S Patent Application Publication, nasal direct access provides mental support and calms stress and other mental and emotional conditions since it interacts with the limbic brain. One study showed that essential oil helps alleviate anxiety and stress through clinical methods. However, further research is needed to back this claim.

    Other studies are still examining the benefit of aromatherapy to help sleep conditions. It has been proven that aromatherapy in cancer patients helps improve their sleep and also during their treatments, according to the National Library of Medicine. Using essential oils like lemon, orange, sweet, and lavender helps alleviate nausea and increase relaxation in cancer patients.

    Although it is still unclear whether aromatherapy can help me treat various serious medical conditions, essential oil use has been proven to be a great remedy for less serious issues. For example, tree tea oil has been proven helpful in acne-related issues because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Also, thyme and lavender essential oils have been shown to improve alopecia.  

    Essential oil does not need FDA approval and has minimal side effects. However, ensure you use authentic ones and dilute them to get maximum benefits.

    Best Essential Oils Used In Aromatherapy

    There are various essential oils, and they all have varying fragrances. To choose the best essential oil, you must first know what symptoms you are looking to be treated. Below are the most common essential oils used:

    Tea Tree Oil

    It is also referred to as melaleuca. Long ago, it was used by Australians to heal wounds. Nowadays, it is used to treat acne and insect bites.

    Lavender Oil

    The lavender scent is known for its relaxing effects. It aids in alleviating stress and anxiety and also promotes good sleep.

    • Peppermint oil:

    Peppermint oil can help ease irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) when consumed as a capsule. When applied topically, it may help in relieving muscle tension.

    Lemon Oil

    Most individuals find the citrusy scent to be a mood booster.                               

    How to Find the Best Essential Oils for Aromatherapy

    The most important factor to consider while purchasing essential oil is its quality. Finding good and quality essential oils can be quite challenging since the US government agency provides no certification. Most manufacturers claim to produce essential oils that provide therapeutic benefits, but it's part of their marketing.

    Below are helpful tips that will help you choose a good essential oil:

    Evaluate the Brand or Company

    Only buy your product from a well-known and trusted aromatherapy company that is trusted by most individuals and has been around for some time.

    Look at the Product's Label

    The label should have the plant's Latin name, other ingredients used, the origin of the plant, and its purity information.

    Avoid Fragrance Oils

    You should avoid perfumed oils since they are chemicals added to them making them unsuitable for aromatherapy. Purchase oils that have pure essential oil and no additives.


    Aromatherapy has been around for some years, and various medical claims surround the use of essential oils for its therapeutic benefits. Most people wonder whether it works. The use of essential oils may help relieve anxiety and depression and improve sleep. However, more research is still needed. Before purchasing your essential oil, first, know its purpose since there is various essential oil in the market, and they offer different benefits. Before using an essential oil, always consult with your doctor first to help you know how to use it correctly. Also, know that FDA does not regulate aromatherapy products, so only purchase them from trusted and well reliable companies.


    Cui, H., Zhang, C., Li, C., & Lin, L. (2019). Antibacterial mechanism of oregano essential oil. Industrial Crops and Products, 139, 111498.

    Farrar, A. J., & Farrar, F. C. (2020). Clinical Aromatherapy. Nursing Clinics, 55(4), 489-504.

    Gothard, K. M. (2020). Multidimensional processing in the amygdala. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 21(10), 565-575.

    Shuo-Shin, T. S. A. I., Hsiu-Hung, W. A. N. G., & Fan-Hao, C. H. O. U. (2020). The effects of aromatherapy on postpartum women: a systematic review. Journal of Nursing Research, 28(3), e96.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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