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Can Scents Improve Your Life?

Every so often, a patient asks me about aromatherapy. I can tell by the way most of them ask that they’re ready to go on the defense. They probably expect me to rant about “New Age junk science,” or something.

But the truth is, there’s nothing “junk” about the science behind aromatherapy. We may have proven that some things the ancient Egyptians and Greeks believed were wrong… but the power of scents is not one of them.

Today, let’s look at some of the ways aromatherapy can benefit you or your loved ones.

Lavender Makes Everything Feel Better

Visit almost any old New England farm and you’ll find lavender growing there. Lavender has been prized for its pleasant calming scent for centuries. But if you fast-forward to the 21st century, and you’ll find lavender in some unusual places.

Take the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), for example.

Stress doesn’t get much higher than in the ICU. Intensive Care treats the most critical patients. And their serious situation usually causes patients a great deal of stress. But at England’s Royal Berkshire and Battles Hospital, a team of nurses performed an experiment that proved the power of lavender.

The nurses used lavender oil aromatherapy with a group of ICU patients. The patients’ mood improved and they felt more positive after the aromatherapy.1

And this is just one hospital study that shows the effectiveness of lavender. A team at St. Paul’s United Hospital had similar results. But the subjects in this experiment were on their way to the operating room (OR).

Patients using lavender aromatherapy were calmer on the way to the OR. The authors called lavender “a simple, low-risk, cost-effective intervention.”2

Of course, lavender oil has more everyday uses.

A Miami research team found that lavender improved bath time for infants and their mothers. The infants cried less and slept better after their bath. Mothers smiled more and touched their babies more with lavender aromatherapy. And the mothers’ levels of cortisol – “the stress hormone” – were lower.3

According to a Korean study, women college students fell asleep faster and slept better after using lavender oil aromatherapy.4

And lavender isn’t the only effective aromatherapy oil. Though it does have some unexpected benefits…

Aromatherapy Helps Improve Math Scores?

The International Journal of Neuroscience reported an unusual benefit of aromatherapy. In this study, researchers tested two aromatherapy oils on adults taking a math test.

The subjects who inhaled rosemary oil were more relaxed and faster on the test than without the oil. But those inhaling lavender were more relaxed, faster and more accurate.5

In another study, British researchers tested chamomile oil on a group of seriously ill patients. The subjects’ mood, outlook and quality of life all improved with aromatherapy.6

At Britain’s Newcastle General Hospital, aromatherapy with lemon balm proved its worth. There, patients with severe confusion and memory problems became calmer after aromatherapy. Their quality of life also “improved significantly.”7

Finally, here’s a study that even surprised me.

A Korean team used an aromatherapy on people with blood pressure problems. (They used a mixture of lavender, ylang ylang and bergamot oil.) After aromatherapy, the subjects’ pulses and blood pressure readings were lower. So were their cortisol levels and signs of stress.8

In study after study, aromatherapy appears to promote a calmer, healthier outlook. And in some studies, the effects are clearly measurable.

Is Aromatherapy for You?

Many studies have shown that aromatherapy is safe and effective for many uses. I think it’s worth a try. Particularly if you’re considering lavender oil, which is backed up by many studies.

This ancient art may help you find greater calm, focus and more. And at the very worst, it will make your home smell better.

If you’ve been considering aromatherapy, I think it’s worth investigating.

Stay healthy!

Dr. Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
Best Life Herbals

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1 Dunn C, et al. Sensing an improvement: an experimental study to evaluate the use of aromatherapy, massage and periods of rest in an intensive care unit. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Volume 21 Issue 1, Pages 34 – 40. Published Online: 28 Jun 2008.
2 Braden R, et al. The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients. J Perianesth Nurs. 2009 Dec;24(6):348-55.
3 Field T, et al. Lavender bath oil reduces stress and crying and enhances sleep in very young infants. Early Hum Dev. 2008 Jun;84(6):399-401. Epub 2007 Nov 28..
4 Lee IS and Lee GJ. Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006 Feb;36(1):136-43.
5 Diego MA, et al. Aromatherapy Positively Affects Mood, Eeg Patterns of Alertness and Math Computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, Volume 96, Issue 3 & 4 December 1998 , pages 217 – 224.
6 Wilkinson S, et al. An evaluation of aromatherapy massage in palliative care. Palliative Medicine, Vol. 13, No. 5, 409-417 (1999).
7 Ballard CG, et al. Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with Melissa. J Clin Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;63(7):553-8.
8 Hwang JH. The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006 Dec;36(7):1123-34. 

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