Aromatherapy: Is it All BS?

You may have heard about how aromatherapy can cure illnesses, improve organ health, boost immunity, and do all of these other amazing things. But is there any truth to that? Because you also may have heard about how it’s all fake, a scam by essential oil companies. So, what’s going on?

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils (usually by smelling them or skin absorption) to promote health and well-being. People use aromatherapy for several reasons, such as using lavender oil to treat kidney stones. As great as these benefits may sound, there’s not much proof that aromatherapy is actually effective. Research is limited, and the few studies that have been done are small-scale and not the most reliable. It isn’t clear whether the results are caused by the essential oils used or if they are caused by other factors in the study and just correlated with the use of essential oils.

So, the medical benefits of aromatherapy may be a stretch, but there still may be some truth to other benefits. For example, there are claims that certain essential oils can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. This makes sense because of the way the sense of smell works with the brain. Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory (smell) system, which sends a message to the limbic system (the part of the brain responsible for emotions). This process is why sometimes a smell can trigger a specific memory, such as a certain perfume making you think of the summer you wore it. So although there hasn’t been much research to confirm emotional responses to essential oils, people report feeling calm or relaxed from oils such as chamomile or lavender, so go ahead and try it!

Although it can’t hurt to try aromatherapy to see how it makes you feel, there are some risks associated with improper use. There are some claims that you should ingest essential oils or apply them directly to the skin without a carrier oil, but it is not a good idea to do that unless directly instructed to by a medical professional. Essential oils can be wonderful, as long as they are used properly. But with that, there’s no harm in putting a few drops of peppermint oil in a diffuser or using a lavender bath bomb. Even though there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to make a claim on whether aromatherapy is effective or not, it may be beneficial for some people. So, go ahead and relax with a chamomile bath bomb!