Scents That Make Sense: Aromatherapy

Written by: Heather Alsop, Bridget Donovan, Chris Libroia, Sara Peters and Gretchen Mau

As society is continuously changing, we are currently seeing a shift to a more holistic approach to managing mental and physical health. The perks? Natural resources are abundant, often inexpensive, and easily accessible. Now, don’t go pulling anything out of the earth and assume it’s safe just because it’s “natural”. Consulting your doctor is always an excellent idea before switching up your health regimen. One of these natural options is aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is a method of treatment using essential oils to correct/regulate imbalances within the body. They have been utilized since ancient times due to being less toxic than medications, and for directly supporting the body’s own natural healing abilities. There are different ways oils can be applied depending on the condition. The easiest and most common route used for essential oils is inhalation, either directly or via diffuser. Inhalation is recommended for improving mood, mental wellness, and respiratory issues. Diluted oils can be applied topically to soothe pain, sprains, and reduce inflammation. Baths can provide relaxation, stress reduction, and hydration for the skin. However, never to be ingested, as they have the potential to create serious damage internally.

These oils are not limited to any specific age group, in fact, they have been proven beneficial for college students to help decrease the stress of time crunches, lack of sleep, and the dreaded test anxiety. Two studies have shown aromatherapy had positive outcomes on anxiety during an exam. In one, college students were randomly selected to take tests in two separate rooms, half the students took the exam in a room diffused with lemon essential oil, while the other half of the students- the control group- took the exam without it. After the test, all of the students took a post-test stress level survey showing a decrease in stress levels for the students exposed to the lemon essential oil. This was similarly done with Lavender diffusion as well, consequently, the Lavender group had significantly lower self-reported anxiety as compared to the room without it.

What kind of essential oil should you use? Studies have reported Jasmine, Rose, Sandalwood can cause a euphoric effect. While Lavender, Chamomile, and Mandarin were reported to create a sedative/calming effect. Rosewood and Grapefruit are known to regulate and uplift emotions, while Rosemary, Peppermint, and Lemon can be used as mental stimulants. These benefits are why many people use aromatherapy to address stress, depression, sleep disturbances, concentration difficulties, anxiety, headaches, migraines, and numerous other affective disorders. If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge, there is an Essential Oils 101 class being held on campus from 10-12pm on March 10, 2018, room- TBA, keep your eyes, and nostrils open!