Aromatherapy is a holistic healing complementary treatment that has been around for thousands of years, originating in the ancient cultures of China, India, Egypt, and Persia.  Aromatherapy uses essential oils and other natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being.  Some essential oils have antiviral, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties.  Aromatherapy works through the sense of smell, inhalation, and skin absorption using essential oils, diffusers, inhalers, bath salts, body oils, creams, lotions, facial steamers, hot and cold compresses, and clay masks. 

There is limited scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of aromatherapy. Aromatherapy does not cure diseases; however it has been reported that aromatherapy has been beneficial for many conditions.  

Aromatherapy may be helpful with:

  • Insomnia 
  • Stress 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Strengthened immune system 
  • Pain relief
  • Headaches 
  • Migraines
  • Asthma 
  • Fatigue 
  • Depression 
  • Alopecia/hair loss 
  • Sore joints 
  • Arthritis 
  • Improved digestion  
  • Menopause
  • Minimize side effects of chemotherapy
  • Reduce pain of osteoarthritis of the knee 
  • Improve quality of life for dementia patients 
  • Low appetite
  • Dry mouth 
  • Reduction of kidney stone pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Circulatory problems 
  • Discomfort of labor pains 
  • Fight bacteria
  • Fight viruses 
  • Improves digestion 
  • Relief of cold symptoms 
  • Boost energy levels 
  • Increase healing process

It is recommended that essential oils are diluted by mixing them with body lotions or carrier oils for usage.  The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy listed the following 20 most popular essential oils and their uses.

  • Clary sage
  • Cypress 
  • Eucalyptus 
  • Fennel 
  • Geranium 
  • Ginger 
  • Helichrysum 
  • Lavender 
  • Lemon 
  • Lemongrass  
  • Mandarin 
  • Neroli 
  • Patchouli 
  • Peppermint 
  • Chamomile 
  • Rose 
  • Rosemary 
  • Tea tree 
  • Vetiver 
  • Ylang Ylang

Patients should test the oil prior to usage to determine if there are any allergic reactions to it. If a red, itchy rash or hives appear after using essential oils, an allergic reaction may be occurring  and a doctor should be contacted.  It is not recommended that essential oils are ingested or swallowed.  

There are risks involved with using essential oils, and they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.  Pregnant or breastfeeding women and children should only use essential oils under doctor’s orders.  It is recommended that patients consult with a trained professional such as an aromatherapist, nurse, doctor, or pharmacist to discuss the possible risks and benefits of aromatherapy.  Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy, and is not intended to replace traditional medical treatment. 

Aromatherapy Resources

Find a Registered Aromatherapist

National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy