Understanding Aromatherapy Treatment

Can smelling oil really make you feel better? The crux of aromatherapy treatment is that inhaling or absorbing essential oils harvested from plants can aid healing and affect your mood.

Scientific research continues to explore whether or not this is true. Although no one knows for sure how aromatherapy treatment works, there are a couple of theories.


There are two ways in which aromatherapy treatment is thought to function. The first is through our sense of smell, which connects to the area of the brain that deals with emotion and stores long-term memories.

Think of how the scent of someone's perfume reminds you of that person and you can understand how aromatherapy might work. Humans reportedly can distinguish 10,000 different smells - which sounds impressive, until you realize that dogs can easily distinguish at least 2 million!

The second theory regarding aromatherapy treatment is more straightforward: The essential oils of some plants have medicinal properties, and thus can help with certain skin conditions. Some oils are antibacterial agents, like peppermint oil.

Keep in mind, however, that the role of aromatherapy treatment in treating other diseases is largely unproven scientifically. Essential oils have been touted as curing everything from upset stomachs to asthma. A good rule of thumb is to never treat an ailment with aromatherapy until you've checked with a doctor.


Apart from its practical uses, however, aromatherapy treatment has drawbacks. Some people are allergic to various plants and essential oils. Do a spot test using diluted essential oil on a small patch of skin and check for an allergic reaction after 24 to 48 hours.

Some essential oils, like bergamot, are phototoxic - that is, they react with sunlight to form a compound that can burn your skin. And undiluted essential oils are far too strong to put on bare skin.

Never ingest an essential oil. A compound that's safe to put in hand lotion can turn toxic if eaten.

Finally, aromatherapy treatment can affect conventional treatments. Some essential oils can either diminish or exacerbate medications.

For all of the above reasons, consult a licensed, professional aromatherapist before beginning any course of aromatherapy treatment. A competent practitioner will take a complete medical history and make note of any medications you're already taking to avoid complications.

Aesthetic Applications

Regardless of how aromatherapy treatment does or doesn't work, no one can argue that slipping into a bathtub full of flower-scented bubbles, surrounded by candles, isn't relaxing!

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