Using Aromatherapy To Alleviate Mental Health Problems
Since ancient times, people have used aromatherapy as a holistic treatment for physical, mental, and emotional conditions. Aromatherapy works by inhaling or applying essential oils derived from plants on the skin. Medical professionals don't always consider this method an effective treatment, which may be due to an absence of conclusive research.
For one, it's impossible to conduct a randomised or unbiased study on essential oils' effectiveness because the participants may easily identify different oils by smell. This would lead to these participants attributing some benefits to the oils before actually testing them. While no single essential oil has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety or depression on its own, many oils have shown success in alleviating certain symptoms of mental illness, according to several studies. (1)
Using essential oils together with professional mental health treatment may improve your wellbeing, but success rates may vary from person to person. This article shares how you could use aromatherapy to help alleviate mental health problems.
Common oils used in aromatherapy in promoting mental health
There are different plants from which essential oils said to have beneficial effects that may help alleviate mental health problems are derived. They include the following:
- Lavender oil: Aromatherapists frequently employ lavender essential oil in various mental health treatments as there's a long list of claimed benefits of lavender oil. Lavender has a calming effect on the senses, thanks to its soft scent. One of the best uses of lavender aromatherapy is pillow spray, which may help you calm down, reduce feelings of anxiety, and sleep better.
- Cedarwood oil: It has been found that Cedarwood essential oil has stress-relieving properties, especially for those who work or go to school and are under a lot of pressure. It's believed that inhaling cedarwood at work may help to improve performance and boost concentration. Cedarwood has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of depression in rats, although it's yet to be tested on humans. (2)
- Chamomile: The antidepressant properties of chamomile have also been shown to help alleviate symptoms of depression. In cases where anxiety and depression are causing digestive issues, chamomile is a good choice because it can promote relaxation and reduce inflammation in the gut. (3)
- Grapefruit oil: You may feel more energised after using grapefruit essential oil, which experts believe has an uplifting and invigorating effect. It's also a common recommendation for those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, who may use it to combat cravings. Mental health issues and withdrawal symptoms may last for weeks or months in the early stages of sobriety. Addiction treatment programs could benefit from using grapefruit essential oil therapy, a holistic method that may aid in the recovery process. (4)
How aromatherapy works
The sense of smell is a remarkable gift, and experts believe that aromatherapy works by activating the sense of smell receptors in your nose. These receptors, in return, send signals to your brain via your central nervous system. Certain parts of your brain, such as the limbic system, influence your emotions and may be activated by the aroma of the essential oils during aromatherapy.
When you smell these oils, your hypothalamus may also respond by producing feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin that may aid in alleviating feelings of depression and anxiety. This boosts relaxation. Also, some experts believe that applying essential oils to your skin and other parts of your body, such as joints, can positively affect them and your overall wellbeing. (5)
What are some aromatherapy techniques?
You can get the benefits of essential oil in aromatherapy in various ways. When deciding which products to buy, look for those that are pure. Avoid products containing synthetic fragrances. Pure essential oils may provide more benefits than synthetic scents.
Aromatherapy can take different forms, including the following:
- Diffusion: You can use devices, also known as diffusers, that allow essential oil scent to permeate a room or even your entire home. There are four types of diffusers; nebulizing, evaporative, heat, and ultrasonic. Nebulizing diffusers don't require dilution with water. For the others, a ll you need to do is to add water to your diffuser and a few drops of your essential oil or your desired concentration. Place the device in a suitable location where it can emit fragrance throughout the room.
- Sprays: With a room spray, you can easily add the aroma of essential oils to a specific room in your house. You can make a homemade aromatic spray by combining essential oils with water.
- Massage: Adding essential oils to massage oil is common. The combination of aromatherapy and massage can help alleviate stress. However, you shouldn't apply essential oils directly to the skin. Make sure to incorporate them into a massage oil blend instead.
- Baths: You may also use bath salts and oils with relaxing scents to help you relax in the tub or shower.
- Products for the skin and hair: If you'd like to carry your favourite aroma with you wherever you go, consider using scented soaps, lotions, or hair products.
While aromatherapy is essentially safe to practice by applying it on skin or by inhaling, you shouldn't use it to self-treat any mental health problems you may have. Ensure you visit a medical professional for advised therapies and treatment.
You may also be allergic to some plants that make the essential oils and therefore need to be cautious when choosing the compounds to use. Finally, aromatherapy oils come in a variety of grades. Do your research well to ensure that you only use therapy-grade oils for better results.
- "Essential Oils Can Be Beneficial for Your Health and Mood", Source: https://neurosciencenews.com/essential-oils-mood-19109/
- "The anxiolytic effect of Juniperus virginiana L. essential oil and determination of its active constituents", Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29326032/
- "Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) May Have Antidepressant Activity in Anxious Depressed Humans - An Exploratory Study", Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3600408/
- "Best Essential Oils for Symptoms of Addiction and Withdrawal", Source: https://addiction-treatment-services.com/blog/best-essential-oils-for-addiction-and-withdrawal/
- "The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy for Depressive Symptoms: A Systematic Review", Source: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2017/5869315/