What is Aromatherapy & Does it Work?

Aromatherapy is today one of the most known alternative forms of treating physical and emotional being. Aromatherapy is the use of several essential oils from flowers, herbs and other aromatic plants for achieving relaxation and relief from stress. It is also believed that this therapy also works in treating several ill health conditions and disorders. Various spas and lotions claim that aromatherapy where there is systematic use of essential oils in holistic treatments for improving well being of individuals; can work all sorts of wonders, from reducing anxiety and pain to boosting up energy and short-term memory. There is also a belief that aromatherapy can even prevent hair loss. But, is it real true that aromatherapy actually work? Well! You need to check on that before proceeding on such a treatment on self or your near ones.

What is Aromatherapy?

What is Aromatherapy?

So, Aromatherapy as the name suggest makes use of aroma or fragrance from essential oils or concentrated aromatic liquids extracted from herbs and plants, to enhance health and boost feelings of well being. In Aromatherapy, the essential oils are applied to the body in various ways like, massage, bath, creams, inhalation, compresses etc. and as a rule they are not taken internally.

Though the term “Aromatherapy” was not known until early 1900s, the concept has been around for several years. Today, aromatherapy is popular not only in spas, but also in special treatments to relieve labor pains, in promoting restful sleep and reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Does Aromatherapy Work?

Now, let us know how aromatherapy actually works! When essential oils are applied on the body, they penetrate the skin through hair follicles and sweat glands and then are absorbed in to the body fluids. Here the aromatherapy using essential oils not only help in killing bacteria and viruses but also stimulate the body’s immune system and thus strengthens resistance to further attack.

Each essential oil used in aromatherapy has its own character and aroma, exhibiting a number of properties and benefits which are unique to itself. Some of the oils enhance the circulation and aid with the efficient elimination of toxins while others promote growth of new cells and encourage the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

When essential oils are used to inhale, the minute molecules of the oils get readily absorbed in to the bloodstream as the lungs work to oxygenate the blood. This form of absorption of the fragrance from essential oils can be done by adding them in to the bathwater or diffusing them in a vaporizer. The aroma sends a direct signal to the Limbic system in the brain which is known to be the center of memory, emotion and sexual arousal. That is the reason why essential oils have powerful effects on our mood and general state of mind.

More about the effectiveness of aromatherapy can be known from the following arrays of the article.

Studies That Shows Aromatherapy Does Work:

Now, we cannot simply rely on theories every time. So, there have been some specific studies on aromatherapy which suggested that this kind of therapy actually does work in some good extent. Here we will take a look on some of the scientific studies that have positive notes on aromatherapy and its benefits to emotional and mental well being.

  • Recent research on aromatherapy found that sniffing lavender oils along with rosemary, reduced stress in graduate nursing students while their examinations.
  • It was found in one more study from the University of Vienna that when the scent of orange oil was used in dental clinics, female patients who were present for their dental procedures exhibited reduced levels of anxiety. One more study found that the sweet smelling scent found few signs of reduced anxiety in dental patients who were ready for upcoming procedures. So, these studies suggest that some fragrances may have effect on mood and thus aromatherapy does work effectively in mood enhancing or reducing stress and anxiety.
  • A study from Mie University School of Medicine found that patients of depression required smaller doses of antidepressant medications after their citrus fragrance treatment or after the aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy Does Not Work On Improving Health And Hair Loss:

Although it has been known to promote mood and reduce anxiety to some extent; Aromatherapy has not been proved to reduce pain, prevent hair loss or promote health. Scientific evidences for physiological improvements due to aromatherapy are lacking. In fact, a newer study conducted at Ohio State University, found that aromatherapy did not cause any physiological effects. While lemon oil improved mood; neither lemon oil, nor lavender oil significantly changed pain ratings, blood pressure, heart rate, wound healing or levels of stress hormone. This proves that aromatherapy does not provide all health benefits that are claimed by spas and other essential oil businesses.


Though aromatherapy, as an alternative medicine may have been helping millions of people in various ways, especially in their mental and emotional well beings; there are things one must know and be careful about before undergoing the therapy. It is a must for you to consult your physician and a trained aromatherapist about the possible side effects and risks of the therapy. 

It must be noted that preventive measures go very long way and one must take all the required preventive measures before going for any type of treatment or alternative treatments.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 10, 2017

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