How does it work and what benefits does it have on health?

Aromatherapy is known as a complementary medicine that uses essential oils from aromatic plants, flowers, leaves, seeds, barks, and fruits to help alleviate some illnesses and improve mood.

Since the curative effect of this technique on various diseases for which its use has been extended has not been scientifically proven, it is not considered part of conventional medicine, and therefore becomes part of alternative medicine therapies.

According to the Mayo Clinic clinical research institute, research on the effectiveness of aromatherapy and the therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from plants is limited. However, some studies have shown that aromatherapy may have health benefits, including helping relieve anxiety and depression; improving quality of life, particularly for people with chronic illnesses, and also helps with quality of sleep.

According to the aforementioned institution, smaller studies suggest that aromatherapy with lavender oil, for example, can help reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis of the knee, improve the quality of life of those with dementia and relieve the pain of those who suffer from kidney stones.

Essential oils are key in aromatherapy processes. – Foto: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Although there is not enough scientific evidence of its operation, there are those who use this therapy as a cure for multiple diseases, such as arthritis, muscle and joint pain, rheumatism, bronchitis, cramps, colds and colds, cellulite, hangover, dermatitis, eczema, constipation or poor circulation, states an article on the Cuídate Plus portal.

Essential oils used in aromatherapy are often extracted from various parts of plants and then distilled. Highly concentrated oils can be inhaled directly or indirectly, or applied to the skin with massages, lotions, or bath salts. Some manufacturers offer some that can be ingested, but research on the safety and effectiveness of this method is even more limited.

Aromatherapy is believed to work by stimulating the olfactory receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls emotions, according to information from the Spanish health company Sanitas.

According to Sanitas, aromatherapy seems to have its most beneficial effect on minor ailments, digestive problems, premenstrual syndrome, stress-related illnesses and some skin problems, and not necessarily on more complex illnesses.

“Aromatherapy is extremely unlikely to cure major illnesses, so we do not recommend that it be used in these cases as a substitute for conventional medicine. However, it can be used to alleviate the psychological stress experienced by people suffering from serious pathology”, he specifies.

Massages with oils
Oil massages can be restorative for some minor health conditions. – Foto: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Following instructions

Research has shown that many essential oils are safe when used as directed. However, it is important to clarify that those used in aromatherapy are not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Specialists also say that when oils are applied to the skin, side effects can include allergic reactions, irritation, and sun sensitivity. Also, more research is needed to determine how essential oils might affect children and pregnant or lactating womenas well as how they might interact with medications and other treatments.

The most used

According to experts, these are the most common uses of popular essential oils, depending on what effect a person wants to achieve.

– Relaxing: lavender (also antiseptic), chamomile, jasmine, frankincense, and myrrh (both can irritate if applied to the skin or used in the bath), neroli, orange, mandarin orange, and ylang-ylang (excessive inhalation can cause headaches) .

– Revitalizing: lemon (can irritate the skin, especially when exposed to the sun), grapefruit seed, cinnamon, juniper (also has antiseptic properties), vanilla, geranium, and rosemary.

– Stimulants: peppermint and eucalyptus (both act as decongestants when inhaled, but can irritate the skin, so be careful) Other oils, such as tea tree oil, are famous for their antiseptic properties.