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What Do You Really Want To Know About Aromatherapy?

Tom Hildebrandt

Aromatherapy: Purpose

Definition. Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to help the mind, body, and soul.

It has physiological, emotional, spiritual, and psychological properties


Today, it is a science that includes three fields: esthetic, commercial, and clinical.
Aromatherapy offers psychological and physical benefits. It stimulates the brain to trigger a positive effect. It also assists in reducing the symptoms of stress and help one energize or relax (Keville 8). It is used to relieve pain, care for the skin, alleviate tension and fatigue, and invigorate the entire body (Mojay 11). Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils with many therapeutic uses. It can be useful for eczema, psoriasis, burns, thread veins, cuts and wounds, abscesses and ulcers. It can also be helpful for colds and bronchitis, for rheumatic pain, muscle spasms, and balancing blood pressure. Aromatherapy involves only natural, not man made, elements to help people. Jane Buckle of "Psychology Today" states that aromatherapy is a safe practice that can benefit one completely.

Some categorize it as a holistic or alternative science. This is an ongoing debate, and the answer depends on who you are asking. Aromatherapy finds its origin in ancient Iraq; some evidence has been found of its use in Iraq some sixty-thousand years ago (
Other Benefits Other applications essential oils can be use are household (air freshener), laundry cleaner, insect repellent and pesticide. Essential oil blended together for a specific therapeutic purpose in mind is call essential oil syngery. When purchasing aromatherapy products, remember that not all are pure and natural. The artificial aromatherapy ingredients provide only a fraction of the benefit of natural and again are not harmful. You must read the ingredients on the label to make sure that the product does not contain fragrance oils or impure (chemicals).

In the East, herbal medicine is their tradition. In the year 2000 B.C.E., The Yellow Emperor's Book of Internal Medicine contained 8,160 different formulae. These formulae were mostly herbal compounds, some of which can be related to present day aromatherapy.
These problems have contaminated research on aromatherapy, which has focused mainly on beneficial effects on mood, e. g. , depression, anxiety, agitation. First, however, based on a thorough multi-data-base search, what is most surprising is finding no study addressing what should be a crucial question: How does aromatherapy compare in influencing states such as depression and anxiety with what are now a large variety of traditional medications and “medication-cocktails” that have resulted from a virtual revolution over the past several decades in medical research in general (e. g. , (Osterberg & Bleschka, 2005).

At the same time India was almost entirely plant based. Indian scriptures listed the use of aromatherapy for liturgical, therapeutic, and pleasurable purposes. As far back as 3000 B.C.E., the Chinese were using aromas with acupuncture and message (htpp:// These plant based ideas are what modern day aromatherapy is based on.

Essential oils.

The science of aromatherapy is based on essential oils.

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These oils are primarily plant hormones which contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen ( ). In life, these elements are fundamental. Essential oils combine the fundamental elements in many "mono- and sesquiterpenic families of hydrocarbons, alcohols, ketones, acids, phenols, esters, and coumarines" ( A list of the components of essential oils is as follows:

Table of Components of Essential Oils:

Aliphatic Chains:

These are slightly antiseptic and bactericidial, analgesic, expectorant and stimulating.


Antiseptic, bactericidal, anti-inflammatory, calming and slight hypotensors, some are analgesic and/or spasmomytic.
Aromatherapy consists of the pure essential oils obtained from a wide assortment of plants, which have been steam distilled or cold-pressed from flowers, fruit, bark, and roots (Cates 51). During steam distillation, the hot steam causes the essential oils to be released by the plant. The oils float to the top and then are skimmed from the top. Thus creating a pure essential oil. A person can feel the therapeutic effect simply by breathing the aromatic vapors of an essential oil. One has to breathe the essential oil for an effect to be produced in your body. The scent of essential oils is conveyed by the olfactory nerve to areas of the brain that can influence emotions and hormonal response. For best results, one should use essential oils that are produced from the complete aromatic plant or flower (Lawless 46).


Expectorant, purgative, some are antifungal, and antiviral, some appear to have balancing effect on hormonal system.


Anti-infective, strongly bacterial, antiviral and stimulating; they are generally nontoxic in use and do not cause skin irritation.
Aromatherapy Do you ever want to go home and take a nice, hot bubble bath? Remember how it made you feel and how it smelled? Certain types of oils can be put in your bath, and other places, to help you feel better. This use of oils is called aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is one of the fastest growing fields in alternative medicine.


They are antiseptic and bactericidal. They stimulate the both the nervous system and the immune system, they activate the body\'s own healing process.


Antiviral, anti-inflammatory, calming to the nervous system, hypotensors, vasodillators and antipyretic; their negative properties-when used incorrectly-can cause skin irritation and skin sensitivity.
In today's society, people are more health conscious and are more receptive to natural alternative health modalities. Aromatherapy's current use is not intended to replace standard medical care, but is meant to compliment it. It has been used for many centuries and has proven to be beneficial to the body and the mind.


Cicatrizant, lipolytic, mucolytic, and sedative, some are also analgesic, anticoagulant, or stimulant. Organic Acids and Esters Antifungal. anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, cicatrizant and both calming and tonic, especially to the nervous system. Like alcohol, they are gentle in action, and being free from toxicity they are "user friendly".


The only known well to aromatherapy is 1,8 cineole, otherwise known as eucolyptol; it may also be regarded as bicyclic ether.
Research on aromatherapy, a complementary alternative medicine in which oils from plants are absorbed into the body through massage or inhalation, was assessed. The studies generally used methods resulting in findings of reduced depression and anxiety that were compatible with causes other than aromatherapy. In the absence of rigorously controlled, well-designed studies comparable to those conducted in testing conventional medications, the conclusion that there is evidence of beneficial effects is unwarranted.

Eucalyptol is expectorant and mucolytic.


They occur only in the expressed oils and some absolutes because the molecular weight is too great to allow distillation. Lactones are reputed to be mucolytic, expectorant and temperature-reducing, their negative aspects being skin-sensitizing and phototoxicity.
The second question was whether there was evidence that the therapy can be of value. In aromatherapy, individuals either inhale or are massaged with oils from plants which are absorbed into their bodies (Hemmer & Maker, 2005). Because of potential adverse reactions, the therapy is contraindicated in the presence of “pregnancy, epilepsy, local venous thrombosis, varicose veins, broken skin, recent surgery and circulatory disorders” (Ernst, 2006, p. 39).

Coummarines and Forocoummarines:

Coummarines are anticoagulant hypotensors, they are also uplifting yet sedative. Forocoummarines are known mainly for their phototoxicity. Some are anti viral and anti fungal.
Buckle (2007) reviewed similar pre-post studies of the effects of aromatherapy on agitation in patients at health care centers for the elderly. In these studies, an additional weakness was that effectiveness was assessed informally by caregivers who knew first and second observations were of patients before and while receiving aromatherapy (i. e. , violating basic standards of assessment).

Essential oils are found in the spaces between plant cells. This only applies to about 20% of all plants. Essential oils are released by the plant to deal with stress. They, also, act as the plants immune system, and they are what the plant uses to heal its body.

Men also enjoy massages, burning incense and candles. Education There are many ways of educating one’s self: Self Study, Local Classes, Seminars Apprentice Work Aromatherapy Books, Comprehensive Aromatherapy Programs and via Distance Learning and Networking Aromatherapy Emotional Well-Being Aromatherapy should not be a miracle cure for serious emotional issues. Essential oils may assist, with particular emotional issues and emotional states. Proper use of essentials oils may enhance your emotional outlook, provide support and help balance your emotions during the day.

There are many ways to obtain essential oils from plants; for example, steam distillation, cold pressing, chemicals, or fat-absorption

( The most popular one is steam distillation. This process is what the major industries use to manufacture essential oils.

Therapy is the treatment of any physical or mental disorder by medical or physical means, usually excluding surgery. So we can say that Aromatherapy is therapeutic mentally and physical. Aroma derived from Latin and Therapy from the French work therapie how confusing is that. False Assumption: * Aromatherapy implies that anything that is aromatic and smells good is considered healing or therapeutic Holistic Aromatherapy is the formal name and a serious field of study and practice which uses pure essential oils and other natural ingredients, that are safe when use correctly.

It is said the reason for the expense of essential oils is the fact that they are hard to obtain in high quantity

( For example, it takes 440 pounds of fresh lavender to produce two and a half pounds of lavender essential oil.

But the practice also heavily emphasizes the safe us of essential oils in skin care, hair care, and wound care and in helping to prevent and help care for illnesses such as colds and flu. Example: Lavender Essential Oil - relaxes, ease stress, calms the mind, promote sleep, help combat headaches and dizziness, and can help speed the healing of burns. Aromatherapy uses volatile plant oils and herbs which includes essential oils, for psychological and physical well being. Essential oils are the pure essence of a plant that can be both have psychological and physical benefits when used correctly and safely.

Aromatherapy: How does it work?

Essential oil's mind/body effect.

Essential oils can be delivered to the body in two ways. They enter through the skin, as in massage, or through the nose, as in aromatherapy.

Because a product states that it is made with Essential Oils or made with Natural Ingredients may have synthetic fragrance oils and little essential oil. By exploring the Web you can learn how to safely buy and use essential oils. You could also learn how to make your own aromatherapy products. Safety Information Essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin. Lavender and tea tree are oils that can be use undiluted (neat), but a trained aromatherapy practitioner should be consulted. Always do skin patch test on small areas of the skin, some oils can cause sensitization or allergic reactions in some individuals.

The main body system used in aromatherapy is the olfactory system

( The technical name for this system is the limbic system. This effects both the endocrine and hormonal systems through the hypothalamus.

When you think of aromatherapy you think of essential oils for emotional well-being. Essential oils evaporate quickly, their molecules are easily inhaled, and the sense of smell triggers the chemicals to the brain. These triggers effect our emotions also provide physical benefit which may work together for our emotional state. Orange Oil smell provides emotional balance and positive outlook. Winter blues occur in the colder, grayer times of the year, sweet orange oil alone or blended is wonderful to use. The orange oil is and inexpensive essential oils that blend nicely with many oils, it is also one of the safer essential oils to use.

In massage, the oils seep through the skin and into "extra cellular liquids". From there they reach the blood or lymph and are carried to the place of need in the body. Massage is sometimes related to aromatherapy because of its use of essential oils.
Essential oils should not be taken internally and are flammable Just a reminder that if not use correctly and safely, essential oils can have a severe consequences. The Benefits: Inhaling Essential Oils Inhaling the oils can have psychological and physical benefits. Its can stimulates natural occurring chemicals in the brain that trigger a reaction of a therapeutic benefit. A prominent example is eucalyptus essential oil helps to ease congestion. Physical Application When diluted and applied to the skin essentials oils are absorbed into the bloodstream, which can aid in your health, beauty and hygiene conditions.

There is a "twin pronged" effect described when discussing essential oil. This effect involves the distinction of body and mind. Although aromatherapy is said to have a nondualistic working method, there are two distinct ways that essential oils work.
There has been discussion of the name of Aromatherapy to be renamed. But would it be? Since Aromatherapy is use so loosely using the phrase holistic aromatherapy is use by those who are intimately familiar with the history and intended definition of the term aromatherapy. As you see men have been involved with Aromatherapy for centuries. There are aromatherapy Products just for men, Colognes and after shaves that just don’t leave them smelling good the right oils can also improve their skin. Some men like to take baths also, if they are more of a shower man then let the shower water get hot, sprinkle 2-3 drops on the sides of the shower.

If the origin of the problem is in the psyche, it uses neuroendocrine functions to deliver a response to the body. If the origin of the disease is in the body, it works through physiological functions to deliver a response to the mental or emotional levels of the psyche.
Are there Beneficial Effects of Aromatherapy? The American Medical Association’s absolute requirement of meeting the Hippocratic Oath, “Do no harm,” should apply to any profession involved in medical or psychological treatment - conventional, alternative, or complementary alternative (Angell & Kassirer, 1999; Breen, 2003). Thus, the first and most important question to address regarding aromatherapy, the topic of this paper, was whether there are any circumstances under which the therapy can violate this Oath.

The real emphasis in aromatherapy is in the smell, or psyche to body, working method. The other working methods, such as massage, are not considered true aromatherapy, but they are closely related.

Olfactory system.

"Aroma", fundamentally, is associated with smell. Since aromatherapy is a science that uses the sense of smell to create a desired effect, it must use the olfactory system to get a desired response.

As a professor of complementary medicine, Ernst’s review of such findings warrant withholding treatment from those with such conditions, as well as from those taking other medications which may be less effective when combined with aromatherapy (Ernst, 2006; Hemmer & Maker, 2005), especially since evidence of beneficial effects, as reported below, has been weak at best.

This system is found in the nose. Within the nose there are "hair-like" branches that come out of sensorial neurons. These branches come together to form the olfactory nerve. This nerve sends impulses to the brain which stimulates a reaction that causes the sense of smell.
Your favorite designer fragrance can stir your emotions with spouse/romantic partner sense of smell and those you come in contact with and even your favorite fragrance candle. Heavily fragranced candle if made from paraffin wax is dispersing toxins in the air. These are temporary sense of calm. Aromatherapy uses only natural healing ingredients. * Aromatherapy implies that it uses essential oils solely for the particular aroma and emotional effect that they deliver. Aromatherapy goes far beyond us of just inhaling even though inhaling does have a psychological and mood altering benefits.

The nerve receives the "smell" in gaseous state through the nose. The "smell" must be both water and lipid soluble. The olfactory nerve is mucous covered. This is the reason for water solubility. The hairs on the olfactory nerve have a largely lipid, plasma membrane.
Individuals in today's world often have increased nervous tensions and levels of anxiety, and need to develop more effective ways of dealing with common everyday stress. This stress can include any situation, place, or person that sparks the individuals emotional charge. The stimulant can be as simple as riding in an elevator or walking in a large crowd to visiting the doctor or dentist. In addition, if a person is going through a more...

For a "smell" to make contact with the hairs it must dissolve through the membrane; thus, it must be lipid soluble. The nerve stimulates the brain and a response occurs. Knowing what essential oils stimulate what responses is the art of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy means "treatment using scents" (Tisserand 4.) According to Karen Way of "Ancient Healing Art", aromatherapy is derived from the ancient practice of using natural plant essences for therapeutic effects. Aromatherapy was created by a French perfume chemist named Rene Maurice Gattefosse in the 1920's. Gattefosse obtained a third degree burn during a lab accident. Instead of water, he accidentally submerged his arm into a vat of lavender oil. Gattefosse found that the lavender oil relieved the pain, and got rid of the scarring. And the rest is history.

The division of aromatherapy that is commercial has many claims of what this science can do for you. The people who endorse aromatherapy tend to use the word "natural" when referring to the science. The basic claims deal with fighting of disease, managing depression and stress, relieving headaches and muscular tension.

Skill Development program has been set to help students identify a specific skills that they wish to develop throughout the semester. For this skill development program, I have chosen managing stress skill, as this skill would definitely benefit me in my life, such as in my work career and in my personal life. Every single individual in the world must have experienced stress, where it is usually produced by their own...

When dealing with any retailer, you'll find a list of essential oils and their specific healing qualities. There will, also, be a list of devices used to turn the oil into an aroma. Most aromatherapy retailers combine massage with aromatherapy to appeal to a larger audience.
Up to this point distillers used a straight cooling pipe, extracting aromatic floral waters and essential oils. During the 11th century the coiled cooling pipe was invented by a Persian. Between the 12th and 20th century: * Lavender was discovered for it medicinal properties * Herbs and some perfumers fought off the Black Death * Women had special bottles made to hold their perfume A French chemist burned his arm rather badly. He plunged his arm into the closest liquid a large container of lavender essential oil. The burn healed quickly and left no scar. This lead to his ongoing study of essential oils.

This is due to the use of essential oils that can work through aroma or message. When dealing with these retailers, it is important to look for evidence. They always claim that these oils can heal you, but they rarely consider proof of their claims.
Since there is robust evidence that there are highly effective conventional medications, it is reasonable to conclude these should be tried prior to other treatments. However, if one is not using other medications and in the absence of physical conditions contraindicating aromatherapy, using the treatment is safe. There is a need for future studies that are capable of providing evidence that there are beneficial effects of aromatherapy, if the treatment actually has benefits.

They hide this lack of proof through mention of the ancient arts or some sort of historical justification. Some retailers will, actually, offer evidence of studies, but the references are often vague. Aromatherapy is a rapidly growing commercial industry.
If aromatherapy is found to be less effective, potential recipients of aromatherapy would be limited to those who have not been helped by traditional medications or who do not choose to try them. The only studies found on the effects of aromatherapy have some surprisingly obvious flaws. For example, Okamoto, et al. (2005) used a pre-post design, where depressed participants were assessed before and after receiving an aromatherapy message twice a day for four weeks. Reduced depression, as in all simple pre-post designs, should not have been attributed to treatment, as opposed to a shared event occurring between pre- and post testing (e. g. , depression in general might be affected by testing during a time of pleasant vs. unpleasant weather).

Its applications can be seen in the perfume industry

( For example, Estee Lauder's product line, Origins, claims to use aromatherapy. The commercial side of aromatherapy is based on money.

The Egyptian men would place a solid cone of perfume on their heads, which gradually melt and would cover their body in fragrance. The Greeks learned from the Egyptians. According to the Greeks the gift and knowledge of perfumes came from the gods. The father of medicine (Hippocrates) fumigated both aromatic and medicinal. A perfume (Medallion) was created by a Greek with myrrh for its aroma, anti inflammatory properties toward skin and it also heal wounds During the Roman Empire a book was published that described the properties of approximately 500 plants.

There are applications of "environmental fragrancing" in everything from the workplace to subliminal fragrancing of printed magazines. This is just the commercial side of the industry.

Effective claims-esthetic.

The claims of esthetic aromatherapy are purely pleasurable. The commercial industry has also taken advantage of this side of aromatherapy. Esthetic aromatherapy mainly deals with meditation. It relies on perfumes, ointments, diffusers, and ointments.

Essential oil is a blanket term to include all natural, aromatic, volatile and plant oils. Aromatherapy encourages the use of other complementary natural ingredients such as cold pressed vegetable oils, jojoba, hydrosois, herbs, milk powders, sea salt, clays and mud. Fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils. Fragrance oils and perfume oils contain synthetic chemicals and have temporary therapeutic benefits and are not harmful. The United States does not regulate the use of the word aromatherapy on packaging. You must look at the ingredient label when buying true aromatherapy products.

It intends to make you happy or help you relax in use with meditation. Some oils claim to be aphrodisiacs. This is related to the "happiness" effect of aromatherapy and is put under the category of esthetic aromatherapy ( Both esthetic and commercial aromatherapy refer to the lists of essential oils and their uses for the claims they make.

Effective claims-clinical.

Clinical aromatherapy claims preventative and curative properties of essential oils. It, unlike commercial and esthetic aromatherapy, is a science.

The only requirement is that they not be described as “cures” - resulting in raising insinuation “to an art form of doublespeak” (p. 840). Resistance of those who practice alternative medicine to using “the best available methods of medical science” to test alternative treatments has raised questions in the medical community about the ethics of endorsing these treatments (Breen, 2003, p. 271).

It is the only one that uses fact through studies to back its claims. It is, just now, becoming an practice like herbal medicine. It uses aromatherapy and massage to treat disease and psychological problems.
A major problem in assessing the effectiveness of alternative medicines in general (Angell & Kassirer, 1999) has been that they are legally used without evidence based on the controlled, well-designed clinical testing required for the approval of the Federal Drug Administration: “There cannot be two kinds of medicine - conventional and alternative. There is only medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work” (p. 841).

There is interest in aromatherapy by psychologists which may be a reason for its increased study in the last decade. All the information about aromatherapy is coming out of this field. Its claims are limited but there is evidence of the scent of lemon making people more alert and more productive in the workplace.
History of Aromatherapy The first culture to use aromatic plants for well-being was the Chinese, which practice burning incense to help create harmony and balance. Then Egyptians invented a machine that allowed for the crude extraction of cedar wood oil. They used oils of cedar wood, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and myrrh to embalm the dead. When Egyptian tombs was open in the early 20th century traces of herbs were discovered and the faint scent of oils. Oil and herbs were also use for spiritual, medicinal, fragrant and cosmetic. Egyptians may have coined the term perfume, from Latin which means through the smoke.

When considering aromatherapy, it may be helpful to look into a clinical aromatherapist's research.

List of essential oils and their uses. The uses of essential oils sum up the claims of the entire science of aromatherapy. Here are just a few of them in the following table:

Essential oils and their uses:

Sweet basil:

Invigorates body and spirit: helps refresh the mind allowing concentration, especially when tired. It has a sweet liquorice-like fragrance. Warning do not use when pregnant


Relaxes and refreshes and is good for confidence building. Uplifts the spirit and emotions with delicious fresh and invigorating citrus fragrance. Useful for caring for oily and blemished skin. Lovely citrus aroma. Warning Do not apply to the skin before going out into the sun - It can increase the susceptibility of the skin to severe burning.

Cedarwood Virginia:

Soothes and harmonizes. Recognized as a therapeutic oil from ancient times. An astringent oil useful for protection and caring for oily and blemished skin, and as an inhalant relieves mucoussy coughs and colds. Helps combat cellulite, use in wardrobe to repel moths. It makes a pleasant warm and woody room fragrance, the Tibetans use it as temple incense. Warning Use Cedarwood during pregnancy only in moderation


Powerful antiseptic, widely used in baths and massage during cold season. Blend oil in chest rubs and use in a vaporizer to keep air germ free in sick room


Also known as "Olibanum". Soothes, warms and aids meditation. It has been used for centuries, and burnt on alters and in temples.
Modern medicine has quite a lot to learn from alternative medicine sources such as home remedies or cultural cures. Suppose you catch a sudden flu after a night out or you have some sort of ailment that...

"Creates a \'spiritual\' atmosphere". Comforting oil, by slowing down breathing and controlling tension it helps to focus the mind. Excellent for toning and caring for mature/aging skin. (claimed to have rejuvenating qualities[the Egyptians used it to rejuvenation face-masks]).


A balancing oil for the mind and body. A fresh, floral and sweet smelling oil it relaxes, restores and maintains stability of the emotions. An astringent oil excellent for all skin types. Used in skin care products for both its fragrance and cleansing properties. Useful insect repellent. For massage where there is cellulite and treating eczema and psoriasis.

Jasmine Absolute:

Emotionally warming. Relaxes, soothes, uplifts and helps self confidence. Good for stress and general anxiety. Perfect skincare oil, excellent for hot, dry skin. Sensual properties and reputedly an Aphrodisiac!. Only needs to be used in small quantities. Exquisite perfume. A vast quantity of blossoms, which must be gathered at night when their scent is at their highest, are required to produce only a few drops of oil, so it is a very expensive oil,


Tones and stimulates. an antiseptic and astringent oil for bath and massage where there is cellulite. Restores psychic purity. Fresh woody aroma. Has a cleansing effect on the body, used in many masculine perfumes, after shaves and colognes, and has a calming effect on the emotions. Reputed to strengthen the immune system. {And don\'t forget the Gin} Warning Juniper should not be used when pregnant. The information for this table was taken directly from a company trying to sell "aromatherapy". The liberties of punctuation and grammar were taken by the company involved. The information from this table can be found at

This list of essential oils shows roots in clinical, esthetic, and commercial aromatherapy. Upon examination of the properties of these oils, you will find that they talk of meditation, perfume and colognes, and antifungal and antibacterial qualities. These are examples of the three branches of aromatherapy. Pay attention to the wording. It is slanted to make the products seem effective; also, note the historical reference for justification. This table shows what you will find if you look for the effects of aroma.

Much of the research is still in process. There are several institutes that are currently investigating the properties of essential oils. The two that I found are Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, and Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, in New York. Of interest to psychologists, The Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center conducted a study that proved that the smell of vanilla helped patients cope with stress ( There is also a study by of a group of scientists, headed by Dr. Walter J. Freeman, P.I., that is investigating the effects of neuroactive chemicals on the brain. Included in this study is the investigation of patterns of activity in the olfactory bulb as it relates to ongoing motivated behavior. Many of the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of essential oils were studied by Chamberland in 1887 and Dr. Jean Valnet in 1963. There, of course, were many more researchers of these oils, but there isn't much mention of them on the Internet.

ABC Greetings has created a line of scented, aromatherapy greeting cards and is prepared to launch the product. To provide direction, the company has developed a detailed marketing plan to set forth the goals and objectives of the business, the plans for capitalization, and the details of the product line. In addition, the company is presenting initial plans for marketing and distribution. Market research has been conducted...

They are probably the originators of the claims behind aromatherapy. As far as the claims of the retailers, they claim that experience in the field leads to proof. Among the many words that are used over and over again to describe the effects of aromatherapy are relaxing, uplifting, emotionally stimulating, soothes and warms, cleanses, and sensual. These words are used without justification, but they are affective in making aromatherapy sound appealing. Along with these descriptions are many physiological claims. These include curing headaches and forms of chronic pain as well as many claims of killing bacteria and repelling insects. The truth of these claims is not within the words of retailers but in the research of scientists.

The practice of aromatherapy is spreading like wildfire. In a time of advertising and fast money, is aromatherapy another quick money scheme that doesn't work or is it an affective form of therapy that has scientific evidence to back its claims? With the increase use of alternative medicine in western culture, the popularity of aromatherapy has grown. This alternative therapy is based on the use of essential oils for therapeutic reasons. There are many allegations that individual companies claim to be true, but there base for these claims are not strong. Most involve personal testimonies, and very few use actual scientific research. In fact, most of the studies that involve aromatherapy are done on the essential oils that aromatherapy uses. The research doesn't have the aim to prove or disprove aromatherapy, only study the properties of essential oils. This is important, considering the fact that essential oils are used in the cosmetic and message industry. Despite the cosmetic or massage based slant in the research discussing aromatherapy, there is hope in the search for the truth behind this popular alternative medicine. Most of this research is recent and there are currently studies that have an aromatherapeutic slant. However, these studies are not always ready to be published, and it is not possible to claim these studies as proof of the effectiveness of aromatherapy yet. For this reason, a search of the existing research was done and the findings are reported below. Due to the obscurity of some of the journals, mention of cited studies is given to help establish a firmer understanding of the research that has been done.

Smell and aromatherapy.

Before a look into actual aromatherapy is done, the "how" part of aromatherapy must be discussed. The mechanics of smell are a well researched and a non controversial topic. The mechanics of aromatherapy are based on these same mechanics. Within the study of mechanics of smell, there is research that pertains to aromatherapy. The book, Odor Sensation and Memory, cites studies done by Rovesti and Colombo (1973) that suggest some essential oils are sedatives and others have stimulant properties (Engen, Trygg 54-56).

Some oils should be avoided during pregnancy or by those with asthma, epilepsy, or with other health conditions. A seek qualified aromatherapy practitioner in your area for guidance. Less is more, if one drop will get the job done, for example , do not use two drops. Oils not suitable for use in aromatherapy are wormwood, pennyroyal, onion, camphor, horseradish, wintergreen, rue, bitter almond and sassafras should only be use by a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Essential oils should be kept away from children, unless adult is presence and is knowledgeable about use.

These properties can be used to "manipulate interpersonal relations and cure psychiatric problems" (Engen, Trygg 54-56). There are several other studies that back claims similar to this one, but the actual studies are published in obscure journals. These studies are some of the few that suggest research into the behavior changes through aroma of essential oils. They show evidence of the aroma affecting the brain in the case of essential oils. These studies, obscure as well, will only be mentioned and not used as evidence (Engen, Trygg p54-55). The effect of aroma on the brain and use for therapeutic purposes is something that has renewed interest. Health has named a number of ongoing, unpublished, or inaccessible research that is related to this topic (Freifield, K p 59-63, 84-85). To avoid bias, these studies are not mentioned, but, if interested, it may be helpful to look at the cited articles in this text for further reference. All in all, the mechanics of aromatherapy haven't been effectively studied, but its basis is sound and research linking the mechanics to the "aroma" of aromatherapy is becoming more common and available.

Perfume, Food and Drug

Research of plants-analysis.

There is no significant research dealing with the aromatherapy side of plant research. The research that exists is mostly on essential oils. These oils are studied in the form of there components. Of course, there happen to be hundreds of components involved in essential oils. The studies that involve essential oils as themselves are dealing with specific properties. These studies do not necessarily back up the same claims when these oils are used in aromatherapy, but they do offer suggestions on the properties of the oils. These studies are examples of the kinds of studies that may be manipulated into proof of aromatherapy. When considering these studies, remember they were done by either the FDA or the perfume industry. Because of this, they do not intend to prove or disprove aromatherapy.

Antibacterial qualities.

The evidence of the antibacterial qualities of essential oils are cited references of published material in obscure journals. The 1949-50 Report on Essential Oils, Aromatic Chemicals and Related Materials cites a study by Schroeder and Messing (1949) that shows the antibacterial qualities of cinnamon, pine, and Australian tea oil (Schimmel & Co Inc. p.55-56). There are similar studies of the antiseptic effects involving lemongrass oil by Bose, Bhima, and Subrahamyan (1949) and the effectiveness of sage oil on oral bacteria by Brieskorn (1950) is also mentioned. It is accepted that there are antibacterial qualities to essential oils. My search revealed that the material found is mentioned in other studies as well as these and appears to be accepted by most researchers. It is safe to say that essential oils have antibacterial properties, but this does not justify the claims of aromatherapy retailers.

The make up of essential oils is not a mystery. There are countless studies that show the make up of these oils.

Table 1 shows some of the make up of a few oils backed by research. Table one, however, suggests a chemical slant to aromatherapy. The chemical side of this research is very broad. Studies on these chemicals are numerous, but none of them give proof to aromatherapy.

Table 1: Essential Oils and Their Constituents

Sweet Basil: contains 80-85% methyl chavicol & small amounts of cineol, linalool and d-a-pinene (Schimmel report p.4) Bergamot contains 54.2% oxygenated constitutes and bisabolene, B-caraophyllene, and a bicyclic sesquiterpene named bergamotene (Schimmel report p.4-5) Cedarwood Virginia 15 constitutes: some are Myrcene, terpinolene, tar, acyclic ketone, sesquiterpene, caryophyllene, and fin hydrocarbon (Schimmel report p.6-7) Eucalyptus contains citronellol, aledehyde, terpenic oil, citronella, and cineol (Schimmel report p. 9-10) Frankincense no reference found Geranium contains citronellol, ketones, and esters (Guenther, v. iv p.698) Jasmine Absolute contains ester, benzyl benzoate, indole, and methyl anthranilate (Guenther, v. v p.328) Juniper no reference found

This table does not represent the complete make up of the individual essential oils. However, the information can lead to another angle of research that may support the claims of aromatherapy. The individual components of the oils have properties themselves. These properties may be sources for claims of aromatherapy. Research on this topic may give further insight into the claims of aromatherapy. But because of it's indirect affect on the claims of aromatherapy, a thorough examination of the research was not included.

The most researched and used essential oil is lavender. It has many applications, and many studies that back up its properties. For example, the National Cancer Institute shows the effects of lavender on cancer. These studies were not officially cited in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute article in which they were mentioned. To look further into the truth of this claim consider the University of Wisconsin, Madison, study on the effects of lavender and rats. According to Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the research shows that lavender prevented tumors from developing and caused "complete transgression of advanced mammary tumors" in rats(Ziegler, J p. 1102). It is known that Lavender contains perilly alcohol which is used in treatment of cancer, but this alcohol alone has side effects (Ziegler, J p. 1102). It is the purpose of the studies mention to develop a lavender treatment that has no side effects (Ziegler, J p. 1102).

The anti-carcinogen effects of lavender are not its only use. Dunn, Sleep and Collett (1995) show that lavender is affective for patients in intensive care units. This study included 122 patient that were randomly assigned either massage, a period of rest, or aromatherapy with lavender. There was an assessment of the physiological stress indicators before and after the each treatment during the five day period. Along with this, anxiety and the ability to cope with intensive care experience were tested. This information was assessed and reviewed to eliminate bias. The results show that aromatherapy with lavender oil did not show significant differences in the physiological stress indicators or the behavior of the patients ability to cope. Upon further examination of the data, it was determined that the patients receiving the treatment with aromatherapy showed a decrease in their anxiety levels and overall mood. This study suggests that aromatherapy could effectively be used to lower anxiety levels in intensive care situation-however, more research should be done in this area before actions are taken.

Lavender as an essential oil is suggested as effective in relieving perineal discomfort following childbirth. In a blind randomized clinical trial, Dale and Cornwell (1994) show that six drops of lavender added to bath following childbirth can reduce perineal discomfort earlier. There were two substances used. One was lavender, the other was a synthetic lavender oil. The study was done over the ten days following childbirth and included 635 women. The study showed that between the third and fifth days, when discomfort is normally high, there was a lower discomfort score given by the women. The results were recorded by a questionnaire given to the women following each bath. There were no side-effects recorded and no conclusive proof found. However, there is evidence that suggests that the lavender oil could reduce the discomfort earlier, but not the overall discomfort.

There are many concerns among aromatherapists about the oils being natural. Buckle (1993) showed that the effectiveness of a synthetic lavender oil was almost twice as effective as the natural lavender oil. In this double-blinded trial, the two lavenders were applied to post-cardiotomy patients. The behavioral and emotional stress levels of 28 patients were analyzed both before and after treatment. The results showed that the synthetic hybrid was more effective. Another interesting outcome of this study is the disapproval of the belief that essential oils are only effective due to massage or placebo. This study supports essential oils, but does nothing for the "aroma" in aromatherapy. This, again, is the side of aromatherapy that is not researched.

Peppermint oil.

There are studies on peppermint oil that show that this essential oil has a relaxation quality. Dew, Evens, and Rhodes (1984) showed that peppermint oil was affective in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. This double blind crossover study included 29 patients from seven different hospitals. Each patient was given a placebo or peppermint oil capsule. The patients filled out a questionnaire daily. The abdominal symptoms were graded; stool frequency recorded; and, the side-effects noted. The patients that took the peppermint oil capsule recorded less abdominal symptoms. This study shows that peppermint oil is a relaxant for smooth muscle. The study also suggests the use of peppermint oil for irritable bowel syndrome. Sparks, O'Sullivan, Herrington, and Morcos (1995) studied the relaxation effects of peppermint oil as well. There study involved the relief of spasm during barium enema. Two groups of a total of 141 patients were involved. The first group did not receive the peppermint oil during treatment while the second did. The peppermint oil reduced the incidence of colonic spasm during the treatment. The films of the treatment were reviewed by radiologists to determine the results. The radiologists were also graded on their evaluation to eliminate bias and human error. A bonus to this study was the lack of side effects of the peppermint oil. Again, these studies do not support aromatherapy, but they may serve as a base for claims of essential oils. In this case, the studies would tend to support the relaxation qualities of peppermint oil when they haven't been tested in the form of behavior or emotion. However, the studies do prove that peppermint oil has a relaxing effect.

Relaxing effect of many essential oils.

Reiter and Brandt (1985) showed the relaxation effects of 22 essential oils in their study involving 11 different plant families. They used a guinea pig to examine the relaxation effects on the tracheal and ileal smooth muscles. Their study showed the all of the oils had relaxant effects on the tracheal muscle. Only 16 of the oils had relaxant effects on the phasic contractions of the ileal myenteric plexus-longitudinal muscle. Two of the oils increased the phasic contractions and four of the oils increased the resting force. Most of the oils had a more potent effect on the ileal than the tracheal, but four had an increased affect on the tracheal. This data suggests that there are many essential oils with relaxant qualities.

Currently there is not enough research on essential oils in relationship to aromatherapeutic claims. There is a plethora of research on essential oils and there individual properties and components, but there is a lack of research that relates the oils to effective claims dealing with aromatherapy. It is apparent that aromatherapists must base some of its claims on the research of essential oils. Aromatherapy advertisements, however, take the liberty of relating oil qualities to aromatherapy's practice without sufficient data. There are some studies that relate the two, but must are not published or published in obscure journals. The following table lists the support found on a few selected essential oils.

Table 2: Essential Oils and Their Claim Support

Sweet Basil:

relaxant effects [Rieter and Brandt (1985)] not emotional


no research found

Cedarwood Virginia:

no research found


no research found


no research found


no research found

Jasmine Absolute:

no research found


no research found

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