Balancer Spotlight – Aromatherapy
More and more people are turning to aromatherapy to treat common disorders and improve their health and wellness. The aromatherapy market has seen steady growth for the last several years, and it is expected to expand by nearly 12% annually through 2029.1 While home aromatherapy currently makes up the largest segment of this market, spa & wellness centers, yoga & meditation centers, and hospitals & clinics are not far behind.
What is aromatherapy?
The origins of aromatherapy date back thousands of years, when ancient cultures used aromatic plants for healing and religious purposes. Similarly today, plants that are believed to have healing properties are distilled into essential oils. These oils can be inhaled or absorbed via the skin for their therapeutic effects.
While we can experience the benefits of aromatherapy by simply diffusing or rubbing an oil on our skin, aromatherapy massage is another option that can offer additional benefits. The options in this area are self-massage or visiting a professional aromatherapy massage specialist.
How does aromatherapy work?
Aromatherapy involves either inhaling essential oils or applying them to the skin. Oils may be inhaled directly or through diffusers or spritzers. They may also be applied to the skin directly or used in creams, lotions, bath salts, and more.
When inhaled, scent molecules from essential oils travel to our olfactory nerves. From here, they are transported to the brain where they can impact various areas—especially the emotional center of the brain known as the amygdala.2 Although the molecules enter through a different pathway when applied topically, the effect is similar when they are absorbed into the body.
Benefits of aromatherapy
Because essential oils impact the emotional center of the brain, they can be especially useful for helping to control our stress response. One particular study found an overall decrease in stress level when oils were applied topically to nurses in an ICU setting.3 Another study found the use of aromatic oils to be effective at reducing psychological stress responses and serum cortisol levels.4
In addition to decreasing stress, research shows that aromatherapy can offer many other benefits, including:
- Pain reduction
- Improved sleep quality
- Reduced headaches & migraines
- Decreased anxiety
- Enhanced immunity
- Better digestion
- Improved mood5 6 7
The most common potential side effect of using essential oils topically is skin irritation, or dermatitis. This issue can typically be mitigated by diluting the essential oil in a carrier such as fractionated coconut or jojoba oil. If you have extremely sensitive skin and still experience problems with diluted oil, you can still experience similar benefits by diffusing your essential oils. Certain oils, such as citrus oils, make your skin more sensitive to sunlight—so make sure to avoid these oils if you’re expecting to be out in the sun.
Essential oils that are inhaled may cause nasal irritation or even an asthma attack for some people. And while they may help with headaches, inhaling too much of a specific oil or a blend may cause a headache. The best way to avoid these potential side effects is to use essential oils only in very small amounts and to dilute them significantly with a carrier oil when applying topically.
Additionally, make sure to talk to your doctor before using essential oils if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have any of the following conditions:
- High blood pressure
Popular oils used in aromatherapy
While virtually any essential oil can be used for aromatherapy, some are used more frequently than others due to their availability as well as the specific benefits they provide. Some of the most popular oils used for aromatherapy include:
- Ylang ylang
- Clary Sage
A certified aromatherapist will typically use a blend of a few of the oils above, and may customize a blend based on the person’s needs.
In-home vs. clinical aromatherapy
While using essential oils at home is the easiest way to experience the benefits of aromatherapy, a certified aromatherapist can make an even greater impact on your health and wellness. Aromatherapists are trained in the scientific principles and proper application of essential oils, making it more likely that you will experience positive results.
Additionally, the process an aromatherapist follows is similar to a doctor’s. This includes:
- Making a health assessment based on client information
- Planning and identifying goals based on client needs
- Applying essential oils in the most suitable manner
- Evaluating responses
- Integrating your care with other healthcare providers8
As pointed out earlier, an aromatherapist may also offer massage as part of the treatment. And although you can do a massage with oils on yourself, it’s far more effective to have a trained professional add the power of touch to your aromatherapy experience.
Aromatherapy balancer Virtual Item
A digital signature representing aromatherapy is available to scan as a service in the ZYTO Balance, Select, or Elite software. If the Aromatherapy Virtual Item appears at the top of your services list, consider visiting an aromatherapist. The wellness professional who administered your bioscan may be able to direct you to an aromatherapist. Or, you can search the directories of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy or the Alliance of International Aromatherapists to find a qualified aromatherapist in your area.
1. “Aromatherapy Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Product (Consumables, Equipment), By Mode of Delivery (Topical, Aerial), By Application, By Distribution Channel, By End-use, And Segment Forecasts, 2020-2029.” Grand View Research, Inc. Grandviewresearch.com.
2. “Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work?” The Johns Hopkins University. Hopkinsmedicine.org.
3. Pemberton, E., & P. Turpin. “The Effect of Essential Oils on Work-Related Stress in Intensive Care Unit Nurses.” Holistic Nursing Practice 22, no. 2 (2008): 97-102.
4. Hwang, J.H. “[The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension.]” Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi 36, no. 7 (2006): 1123-1134.
5. Kasar, K.S., Y. Yasemin, et al.“Effect of Inhalation Aromatherapy on Pain, Anxiety, Comfort, and Cortisol Levels During Trigger Point Injection.” Holistic Nursing Practice 34, no. 1 (2020): 57-64.
6. Genç, F., S. Karadağ, et al. “The Effect of Aromatherapy on Sleep Quality and Fatigue Level of the Elderly.” Holistic Nursing Practice 34, no. 3 (2020): 155-162.
7. Alexander, M. “Aromatherapy and immunity: how the use of essential oils aids immune potentiality.” International Journal of Aromatherapy 12, no. 1 (2002): 49-56.
8. “Standards of Practice.” Alliance of International Aromatherapists. Alliance-aromatherapists.org.