Herbs And Health How Essential Oils Enhance Your Well-Being - Herbs And Health

How Essential Oils Enhance Your Well-Being

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How Essential Oils Enhance Your Well Being
Graphic – herbsandhealth.net. Photo © lily – fotolia.com (under license)

Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural plant oils for improving the physical well-being of a person. These aroma-producing oils come from flowers, leaves, stalks, rind, and roots. Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine that considers your sense of smell’s influence over your thoughts, emotions, moods, memories, behavior and physiological functions.



Plant-based oils contain biologically-active and volatile compounds that have been found to provide therapeutic benefits. While each essential oil has its own virtues and unique qualities, combining them may create a much more powerful effect. With aromatherapy, you can harness the olfactory power of essential oils for healing, simply to enhance your state of well-being and also through health-supporting effects that have been attributed to the oil molecules themselves.

The versatility of aromatherapy is immense. For this article, we will be discussing some of the therapeutic uses of oils for common complaints. There are oils that treat more than one problem including lavender and peppermint. Several scientific studies have been cited to support how these essential oils offer means for emotional and physical healing and rebalancing moods.



1. Essential Oils for Pain: Lavender, chamomile, clary sage, juniper, eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, lavender, and green apple

Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils that are commonly used to relieve headaches and neck pain. Its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects were confirmed by a study [1] published in the August 2015 issue of Brazilian medical journal Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias. Another study [2] supports the effectiveness of lavender oil in treating pain when combined with conventional treatments such as acupressure.

2. Essential Oils for Insomnia: Lavender, chamomile, jasmine, benzoin, neroli, rose, sandalwood oil, sweet marjoram, ylang-ylang, lemon

A Korean study [3] combined lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli oils to assess its effect on anxiety, sleep, and blood pressure of coronary artery disease patients. It found out the value of this blend as an independent nursing intervention for improving the sleep quality of these patients. In another study [4], the oils of ylang-ylang, lavender, neroli, and marjoram were effective in improving the sleep quality of middle-aged women with hypertension.


3. Essential Oils for Stress: Lavender, lemon, bergamot, jojoba, clary sage, peppermint, vetiver, pine, ylang-ylang, chamomile

In 2016, University of Montana undergraduate student McKinley June Sangwin investigated the effectiveness of aromatherapy as stress reduction tool [5] for college students. He pre-mixed a dram of chamomile, clary sage or lavender oil with jojoba oil for the study – which revealed the potential of aroma inhalation in reducing stress among college students.

4. Essential Oils for Anxiety: Lavender, bergamot, rose, clary sage, lemon, Roman chamomile, orange, sandalwood, rose-scented geranium, ylang-ylang, and pine

One study [6] mixed lavender and bergamot oils to evaluate the blended oil’s aroma-therapeutic effects in treating anxiety. The study confirmed the relaxing effect of the synergistic blend and its potential use in medicine for curing depression or anxiety in humans. In 2006, a study published in Phytotherapy Research [7] provided evidence for the usage of ylang-ylang oil as a therapy for depression.

5. Essential Oils for Nausea and Vomiting: Mint, ginger, lemon, orange, ginger, dill, fennel, chamomile, clary sage, lemon, and lavender

Yavari and colleagues [8] conducted research in 2014 to determine the effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnant women. Results showed the positive effect of lemon scent in reducing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. In another study [9], a blend of essential oils of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom was proven to be another effective aromatherapy treatment for postoperative nausea.

6. Essential Oils for Memory and Attention: Sage, peppermint, rosemary, lemon, and cinnamon

The effect of peppermint on memory performance has been widely explored. The International Journal of Neuroscience published a study [10] in 2008 that offered evidence for the impact of peppermint on increasing alertness of healthy participants. In 2009, another study [11] posited the potential of aromatherapy for improving the cognitive function of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The study used rosemary and lemon essential oils.

7. Essential Oils for Low Energy: Black pepper, peppermint, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, angelica, jasmine, tea tree, rosemary, sage, and citrus

In 2013, an experiment [12] was conducted to explore the effectiveness of peppermint essential oil on the exercise performance. The stimulating effect of peppermint was attributed to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

8. Essential Oils for Fatigue Exhaustion and Burnout: Basil, bergamot, clary sage, jasmine, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, ginger, cypress, sandalwood, grapefruit, and grapefruit

Inhaling a mixture of essential oils [13] including peppermint, basil, and helichrysum was found to be effective in reducing the perceived level of mental fatigue or burnout. This study first appeared in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

How To Use the Essential Oils?

As mentioned above, the most common ways to use essential oils are aromatically, topically, internally, and externally. You can diffuse the oils into the air, inhale them directly, use as perfume or cologne, or as a natural room deodorizer. Essential oils are applied topically through massage, hot or cold compress, or bathwater. Certain oils may be used in cooking or as supplements, but they should typically NOT be taken internally unless accepted as a food-grade substance, and even then in minute quantities.

Around the home, essential oils have also found applications in sprays, carpet deodorizers, insect repellent, and household cleaners.

References:

[1] Silva GL et al. 2015. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26247152

[2] Lakhan SE et al. 2016. Pain Research and Treatment. The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5192342/

[3] Cho M-Y et al. 2013. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs, and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3588400/

[4] Ju M-S et al. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Effects of Aroma Massage on Home Blood Pressure, Ambulatory Blood Pressure, and Sleep Quality in Middle-Aged Women with Hypertension https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570933/

[5] Sangwin MJ et al. 2016. A Study on Stress and Aromatherapy Intervention Efficacy http://scholarworks.umt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1079&context=utpp

[6] Hongratanaworakit T et al. 2011. Natural Product Communications. Aroma-therapeutic effects of massage blended essential oils on humans https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21922934

[7] Hongratanaworakit T1, Buchbauer G. 2006. Phytotherapy Research. Relaxing effect of ylang ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16807875

[8] Yavari Kia P et al. 2014. Iran Red Crescent Medical Journal. The effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24829772

[9] Hunt R et al. 2013. Anesthesia & Analgesia. Aromatherapy as treatment for postoperative nausea: a randomized trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22392970

[10] Moss M et al. 2008. The International Journal of Neuroscience. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18041606

[11] Jimbo D et al. 2009. Psychogeriatrics. Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20377818

[12] Abbas Meamarbashi and Ali Rajabi. 2013. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The effects of peppermint on exercise performance https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607906/

[13] Varney E, Buckle J. 2013. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: a small pilot study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140115



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