Aromatherapy is classed as an alternative holistic therapy (aromatherpayassociates.com, 2019). Taking an ‘holistic’ approach is to take into consideration the whole person, as an individual not as a symptom and to tailor individualised treatment. The aim of aromatherapy is to improve emotional and physical wellness through the use of essential oils, taken from natural products such as plants and herbs.
The history of using plants and herbs is well known in Chinese Medicine, but it actually dates back even further to prehistoric times (aromatherapyassociates.com, 2019). The Ancient Egyptians and Greeks were also known to use aromatic plant extract and herbs as medicines. Cleopathra used Jasmine infused milk baths as part of her regime to remain youthful and in Victorian England nervous brides wore orange blossom in headdresses and bouquets to calm the nerves.
As modern medicine became more popular in England the practice of holistic medicine started to reduce and was replaced with cheaper pharmaceutical medicine that is often synthetically made (not from natural material). During the late 1970’s the Aromatherapy Association formed to share knowledge and promote its health benefits (aromatherapyassociates.com, 2019).
The sense of smell is one of the strongest of the 5 senses, inhaling different scents targets the parts of the brain called olfactory receptors. These receptors make up an area of the brain called the ‘limbic system’. This system is made up of different elements but it has 3 key functions: emotions, memories and arousals.
By targeting this complex system, essential oils are able to relax, restore balance and enhance mood, improving a person’s overall sense of wellbeing.
Let’s take a look at three common essential oils that are known to improve mental health:
Lavender is reported to have multiple health benefits ranging from anti-inflammatory to improving skin conditions. In respect of mental health, Lavender absolutely helps aid in reducing anxiety, depression and helping with insomnia.
Lavender helps to calm the brain and relax the nervous system (Breus, 2018), which is why it is so well received with people who experience anxiety and depression. The relaxing and calming effect of Lavender also helps those who struggle to sleep by helping the body to unwind and get ready for rest and sleep.
Made from citrus fruits, bergamont not only has an uplifting aroma it also does wonders in brightening moods and improving the well being of the mind. (herbsformentalhealth.com, 2019). It also works to reduce digestion problems and headaches making it a popular oil with those who experience anxiety, especially if you experience the physical sensations of the condition like tummy aches and diarohea.
Chamomile has an amazing sleep-inducing effect on the brain making it essential to those who have trouble getting off to sleep at night. It contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia, or the chronic inability to sleep.
Chamomile tea has been known to benefit anxiety symptoms by helping ease insomnia and provide calmness.
From a 2016 study from Phytomedicine, chamomile "significantly [reduces] moderate-to-severe generalised anxiety disorder symptoms."
This blog has covered three popular essential oils, but this is only the beginning of a vast and varied collection of natural and healing extracts that can help to relax and calm the mind when it’s in a state of stress. Watch out for our up and coming blogs.
Make sure you head over to The Mental Wellness Shop where we have picked out the best quality, organic you can buy all of these aromatherapy products, including perfumes, oil and diffusers.
Aromatherapy Associates London (2019) What is Aromatherapy? [online] available at: https://www.aromatherapyassociates.com/what-is-aromatherapy
Aromatherapy Associates London (2019) The History of Aromatherapy [online] available at: https://www.aromatherapyassociates.com/history-of-aromatherapy
Breus. Dr M (2018) The Relaxing, Sleep-Promoting, Health-Boosting Powers Of Lavender [online] available at: https://thesleepdoctor.com/2018/08/07/the-relaxing-sleep-promoting-health-boosting-powers-of-lavender/
Christiansen. S (2019) The Health Benefits of Roman Chamomile: From soothing your mind to soothing your stomach [online] available at:https://www.verywellhealth.com/roman-chamomile-4571307
HerbsForMentalHealth (2019) Bergamot [online] available at: https://herbsformentalhealth.com/bergamot/