Health Benefits of Essential Oils
Despite essential oils are now used by more and more people, little is known about the effectiveness of essential oils in treating health conditions. Here's a look at the evidence for some of the common health problems that essential oils and aromatherapy have been used to treat.
Stress, Anxiety and Depression
It has been estimated that 43% of people who have stress and anxiety use some form of alternative therapy to help with their conditions. Regarding aromatherapy, initial studies have been quite positive. Many have shown that the smell of some essential oils can work as a complementary therapy to treat anxiety and stress. However, due to the scents of the compounds, it's hard to conduct blinded studies and rule out biases. Because of this, many reviews on the stress- and anxiety-relieving effects of essential oils have been inconclusive.
Interestingly, using essential oils during a massage may help relieve stress.
Headaches and Migraines
In the '90s, two small studies found that dabbing a peppermint oil and ethanol mixture on participants' foreheads and temples relieved headache pain. Recent studies have also found positive effects against headaches when applying peppermint and lavender oil to the skin.
It has also been suggested that applying a mixture of chamomile and sesame oil to the temples may effectively treat headaches and migraines. However, more high-quality studies are needed on this.
Sleep and Insomnia
Smelling lavender oil has been shown to positively affect the sleep quality of women after childbirth, as well as patients with heart disease. The majority of studies showed that smelling the oils (mostly lavender) had positive effects on sleeping habits
Antibiotic and Antimicrobial
The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has renewed interest in the search for other compounds that can fight bacterial infections. Essential oils, such as peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree oil, have been investigated extensively in test tubes for their antimicrobial effects. In fact, they have shown some positive results.
Essential oils have many uses outside of aromatherapy.
Many people use them to scent their homes or freshen up things like laundry. They are also used as a natural scent in homemade cosmetics and high-quality natural products.
It has also been suggested that essential oils could provide a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to man-made mosquito repellents, such as citronella. Studies have shown that some oils, such as citronella, may effectively repel certain types of mosquitoes for around 2 hours. Protection time may be extended up to 3 hours when it is used in combination with vanillin.
The properties of essential oils also indicate that some of them could be used industrially for extending the shelf life of foods