Aromatherapy Basics for Healthy Living

Learn about the scientifically backed health benefits possible through the ancient art aromatherapy.


| January/February 2016


Smell is our most primitive sense, directly affecting the limbic system, the section of our brains involved with sex, motivation and emotion. According to proponents of aromatherapy, we can harness this connection by using scents we find calming, pleasing or uplifting. Yet mainstream physicians in North America debate the health benefits touted in the field of aromatherapy, largely citing a lack of rigorous, scientific study for the claims of aromatherapy, which are drawn mainly from anecdotal case studies and folklore.

However, good research on aromatherapy has been published, primarily in Germany and Japan. It probes the effects, on both mind and body, of inhaling essential oils or applying diluted forms of them to the skin. The research shows that, indeed, there is something to the practice of healing through aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy Recipes

Homemade Arthritis Rub Recipe
Cold Symptom Relief Massage Oil Recipe
Relaxing Honey Bath Recipe

The Science of Scent

Before describing some of the most intriguing studies (all of which involve human use of various aromatherapies, unless otherwise noted), a word of caution is in order: Plants vary. People vary. And any living organism will react according to both genetics and environmental factors. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that some people have strong reactions to some essential oils, while others have no reaction at all, and that sensitivities can vary over time. Also, just because an oil is natural doesn’t guarantee that it’s safe—imagine the consequences of giving a massage using “all-natural” poison ivy! Here’s a summary of some of the studies that have been conducted on aromatherapy’s benefits.

Researchers at the Toho University School of Medicine in Tokyo measured the shift of brain waves when inhaling jasmine oil, and found it produces a stimulating effect similar to that of coffee.

Based on computer measurements of subtle and rapid reactions, researchers at the University of Innsbruck in Austria concluded that inhaled lavender oil sedates the central nervous system.





elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

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