Feel Great · Get Well

Does Aromatherapy Really Work?

With the increasing presence of various spa treatments, oils, and lotions, I’m sure that you’ve heard about the benefits of aromatherapy. I’ll admit I’m guilty of having multiple lotions that claim to aid in stress relief and sleep. While it may seem new to pop culture, essential oils have been used to treat various health issues for approximately 6,000 years. A wide range of cultures even used these oils for cosmetics and perfumes.

It wasn’t until a French chemist named René-Maurice Gattefossé applied lavender oil to a burn on his hand that sparked a modern use for essential oils. After studying the effects of these oils in 1928, Gattefossé released the findings from his research to the public and “aromatherapy” was born. From 1950 until today, aromatherapy has become increasingly popular for massage therapy, beauticians, doctors, and more.

The real question is, does aromatherapy actually work? Even with its popularity, there are few research studies that can reliably answer this question.

There have been research studies showing the uses of aromatherapy during labor, after extensive surgeries, and for sleep improvement. What these researchers found was that aromatherapy was not capable of changing the physiology of the body. However, what all of these studies do share, is that essential oils and treatments have proven to lower anxiety and improve mood.Aromatherapy is capable of this because when the smell enters the nose, the molecules from the aroma dissolve within the mucous lining of the membrane. After this occurs, the molecules can then stimulate the olfactory receptors,

which then activate the olfactory bulb. From here, the mitral cells transport the stimulated signal from the olfactory bulb to the olfactory cortex and the limbic system. Together, the scent can be detected and recognized, especially if it triggers a memory.

So will aromatherapy cure your pain or solve your stresses? The science seems to think that it won’t. However, if you want to improve your mood, an aromatherapy spa treatment might just do the trick!


By Courtney Rosser