The Truth & Science Behind Aromatherapy

Posted by James Strickland on

 

Alternative Medicine?

Essential Oil
 "And the benefits of aromatherapy are deeply rooted in not only the natural, but also the scientific."

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that is quickly gaining momentum in our modern world. You will be hard pressed to find a shop, a boutique, or a store that doesn’t sell a selection of diffusers, roll-on applicators, or a wide variety of essential oils to capitalize on how prevalent aromatherapy has become, but to be certain, aromatherapy is anything but a craze. 

As people are inherently stressed out, maxed out, and fatigued in ways they’ve never been before, aromatherapy is one way to find a sense of ease in the speedy pace of modern life. 

Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots, or any other part of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being. And the benefits of aromatherapy are deeply rooted in not only the natural, but also the scientific.

When you inhale the aroma from an essential oil, your brain is stimulated. Essential oils, often combined with a carrier oil (like jojoba, coconut, or sweet almond oil, among others) can also be absorbed through the skin where the essential oil can travel through the bloodstream and affect the body.

There is a wide range of essential oils on the market with many popular types you may recognize such as bergamot, cinnamon, eucalyptus, frankincense, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, lime, patchouli, peppermint, pine, rosemary, sweet orange, tangerine, and tea tree. Do any of these sound familiar to you? 

Today, though, we are going to focus on the numerous benefits of lavender. 

The health benefits of using lavender essential oil or using lavender in terms of aromatherapy are almost endless. From calming you down, to helping you sleep, to disinfecting the scalp, and the skin, lavender is one essential oil you certainly want to have on hand. 

The genus Lavandula is native to the lands that surround the Mediterranean Sea and southern Europe. This genus includes more than 30 species and dozens of subspecies. There are also hundreds of lavender hybrids.

Most commonly, lavender, in addition to use in aromatherapy, is recommended as a supplement. You can enjoy lavender in an aromatherapy massage, in an oil diffuser, and even in the bathtub. Lavender was even popularly used in Medieval times. People used lavender as an herbal drug in the treatment of epilepsy and in the prevention of migraine headaches. Of course, citizens also used lavender in scenting perfumes, soaps, and even added the powerful herb to their crafts. 

 

The Basics of Lavender 

Lavender

"The calming scent makes lavender an easy essential oil to sniff, and one sniff can be helpful in treating migraines, preventing headaches, treating depression, and alleviating emotional stress."


The power of aromatherapy is within how simple it is. With one whiff, the chemistry of the body can change in powerful ways. Overall, lavender is known to help eliminate nervous tension, relieve pain, and enhance blood circulation. 

The calming scent makes lavender an easy essential oil to sniff, and one sniff can be helpful in treating migraines, preventing headaches, treating depression, and alleviating emotional stress. Lavender helps improve mental activity, so keeping lavender essential oil in your desk drawer or in your student’s backpack as one way to encourage momentum, to stay on task, and to stay sharp. If school testing is a source of anxiety for an individual, sniffing lavender before pulling out the #2 pencils can be one way to decrease stress and also hype up cognitive function. An easy answer for a win-win. 

Lavender is also useful in improving blood circulation, treating acne, and working as a bug repellant as it dispels mosquitoes, midges, and moths. If you do get bitten (if you didn’t have your lavender with you in the first place...), lavender essential oils, with their anti-inflammatory qualities, will help reduce irritation when the bite itches, burns, or stings.

 

Inducing Sleep 

Getting to Sleep with Lavender

"Health effects from sleep problems can include decreased well-being, fatigue, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes. "

 

Sleep issues within our culture, unfortunately, are prevalent. Our culture is based on the mindset we always need to go-go-go. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 25 to 65% of children, adolescents, and adults have sleep issues. This includes issues with insomnia, sleep initiation, sleep maintenance, or daytime sleepiness. And we all know if we don’t get enough sleep, the health of our body and our own inner workings certainly feels that toll. Health effects from sleep problems can include decreased well-being, fatigue, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, inflammation, obesity, and diabetes. 

People may use OTC medicines, herbs, and other strategies to help them catch more zzzs, but if sleep is a tough game you feel like you can never win, try incorporating lavender into your bedtime routine. 

After you put your phone away (experts suggest putting your smart phone to sleep thirty minutes before you turn down the sheets), try calming down with a little simple lavender aromatherapy. 

Lavender will most certainly help calm you down, help you catch the zzzzs you want, and encourage your body to wake up feeling refreshed. Research also shows that getting adequate sleep each night can help stabilize metabolism, mood, and appetite in addition to normalizing other body functions. 

Unfortunately, most people will shoulder on despite the fact they have trouble sleeping, and over time, costly medical interventions may become necessary. Take the time now to iron out any sleep issues you may be having. It will be worth it! 

The National Institute of Health published a study the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine conducted that explored the effects of lavender on people who were struggling with sleep issues. They were looking to explore cost-effective, convenient, accessible, and safe interventions so people could address their sleep issues more easily. Within the study, researchers chose to work with college students because they believed early intervention in young adults can stave off chronic insomnia as those students became older.

The study, entitled “Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene of Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” compared the sleep quality of seventy-nine college students who were having trouble sleeping. They divided the seventy-nine students into two groups. These two groups slept in their usual sleep setting (i.e.: their XL-twin bed in their dorm room), and each student wore an inhalation patch on their chest each night. 

One group wore a patch with 55 μl of lavender essential oil and the other group wore a blank patch. 

Who do you think had sweeter dreams? 

The study found that lavender helped with sleep quality and also showed significant findings for having the college students waking and feeling refreshed.

 

Essential Oils as Antimicrobials 

Bacteria

"Essential oils have antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties."

Essential oils have great potential in the field of biomedicine. 

According to Biological Sciences and Pharmaceutical Research, more than 80% of the global population depends on traditional plant-based medications for treating a variety of human health problems. The International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine stated that the worth of herbal products on the global market is approximately 62 billion USD, and by the year 2050, that same market should grow to be 5 trillion USD. Look at how valuable plants have become! 

With what is currently available on the market for the treatment of human pathogens, some of these synthetic drugs have failed to inhibit pathogenic microbes. These synthetic drugs may possess some carcinogenic effects, expose patients to acute toxicity, and possibly even pose an environmental health hazard. Luckily, essential oils may be able to step up to the plate in ways these synthetic concoctions aren’t able to. 

Essential oils have antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral properties. In a world where the availability of antibiotics have been shown to increase the amount of highly-resistant strains aka super-bugs, utilizing the amazing power of essential oils to combat bacteria and viruses may one day be our only hope.

Even in our world today, bacterial infections remain as one of the high causes of human death. As these bacterial infections become resistant to some forms of antibiotic, finding powerful options that aren’t harmful to the delicate makeup of our human systems has become a priority. 

As researchers explore new key molecules that can overcome resistant bacterial strains, they have found that plant essential oils and their distinct chemical makeup are high-ranking candidates. 

The antibacterial effects of essential oils may inhibit bacteria (bacteriostatic) or destroy bacteria altogether (bactericidal). From one essential oil to another, the level of effectiveness may differ, but this is great news! 

We are proud that within the healthcare fields individuals and health care providers are turning their faces back towards that of the inherent wisdom within the natural world.

 

Lavender & the Central Nervous System 

Nervous System

"Especially in developed countries, stress can be a huge factor in contributing to anxiety, insomnia, or even depression.

Lavender essential oil, as we mentioned before, is one of the herbal remedies that can help alleviate stress and anxiety. 

Central nervous system disorders have become more prevalent in modern society. This may be in part because people are living longer and simply growing older can impact your nervous system. Another key factor is STRESS. In our fast paced, microwave cooking, I want it now culture, stress abounds. The tiny cells, called neurons, take information from the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin and share this info directly with the brain. Especially in developed countries, stress can be a huge factor in contributing to anxiety, insomnia, or even depression.

Anti-depressants like benzodiazepines (BZD) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are highly prescribed to help combat depression and anxiety, but taking these antidepressants, especially on a daily and yearly basis, may come with some pretty serious adverse drug reactions for patients.

Often included side effects, such as: 

  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • fatigue and drowsiness
  • insomnia
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • suicidal tendencies

can reek havoc on your life.

In seeking out other options that can play a role in prevention and the treatment of central nervous system disorders, professionals and researchers have started to explore the opportunities within the world of aromatherapy. 

Certain essential oils, like lavender, are being used as anti-anxiety remedies. They’re being prescribed to be taken orally or inhaled or used in combination with a massage. 

As some essential oils play an important role in the neurotransmitter pathways, especially in the serotonin system (which relates to feelings of feeling depressed or combating feelings of depression), it’s promising to see that lavender wins the gold standard in relieving stress, anxiety, and restlessness from even the top international organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy (ESCOP) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA). If their recommendations aren’t grounds for you to incorporate lavender into your lifestyle, we’re not sure what you’re waiting for!

 

Conclusion 

 

Simply put, lavender is a game changer. Whether you struggle from anxiety, depression, migraines, bug bites, or what have you, seeking out a simple jar of lavender essential oil is a no-brainer. 

Want to sleep better?

Try lavender! 

Want to be less stressed?

Try lavender! 

Looking for an essential oil with antimicrobial properties?

Try lavender! 

Once you’ve incorporated lavender into your daily life, drop us a line and let us know what feels different. 

Here’s to your deeper sleep, your less itchy bug bites, your diminished anxiety, and your healthier life overall!

_____________________________

Looking for an easy place to start infusing Lavender into your daily life? Try our Lavender Essential Oil Candles, Bath Bombs, Soaps and More.

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