Does aromatherapy really work?

Essential oils have been all the hype recently. Fans of the treatment claim the fragrances eliminate toxins and reduce stress. But does aromatherapy actually work?
Fragrances and plant extracts have been used for thousands of years as part of a natural or homeopathic way to relieve common ailments such as anxiety, depression, stress, colds, and allergies. While aromatherapy has ancient tradition origins, there may be some modern supportive science behind the therapy.
Aromatherapy works via inhaling aromas through the nose. The aromas stimulate smell receptors which are linked directly to the brain’s emotional center. The aromas are meant to stimulate positive and calm emotions. Aromas can be distributed via diffusers, oils, massage, and vapor.
While pleasant smells may improve one’s mood, do they really calm anxiety and reduce stress? Research has been inconclusive thus far, showing benefits in some studies and not in others.
One particular study examined graduate nursing students who inhaled lavender during exams. The lavender proved to reduce stress and anxiety in these students. Another study looked at dental patients with upcoming dental procedures who inhaled lavender. The lavender showed little positive effect. This is believed to be due to immediate stress (exams) versus long term stress (fear of the dentist’s office).
The take home: aromatherapy doesn’t hurt. In fact, it’s been shown to have mood-boosting effects. While the therapy’s long-term mental and physiological ailment-curing abilities aren’t proven, it has been shown to have calming and mood-boosting effects, particularly in time of high immediate stress.
Give aromatherapy a try and let us know how it works for you!