Aromatherapy, also known as essential oil therapy, is defined as a “holistic healing treatment that uses essential oils to improve the health of body, mind and spirit”. Essential oils are natural oils using plant extract. They are made by steaming or pressing different parts of a plant, which then captures the compound which produces the fragrance. These oils can be absorbed in many different ways, such as adding to a diffuser or through a massage. However, they are not meant to be ingested, as it could cause dangerous side effects.
The benefits of aromatherapy can be widespread, such as helping reduce stress and anxiety, relieving headaches, and improving the quality of sleep. Which essential oil (or blend of oils) you use would depend on what kind of symptoms you are experiencing. Some of the most popular oils include:
- Lavender oil: Many find this scent relaxing and it is often used to help reduce stress or improve sleep. Other oils to help with stress and anxiety are chamomile and rose.
- Peppermint: This oil can help aid with digestion, as well as help relieve headaches and tension.
- Sandalwood: Used to increase focus, it can also help reduce stress, anxiety and help with sleep quality.
- Ylang-Ylang: This oil can be used to help with nausea, as well as headaches.
When choosing the best oils, it’s important to think of purity of the oil, along with the quality. In addition, the effects of different oils can vary by individual and what may work for one person may not work for another. Some oils are also not good for pets, so before purchasing and diffusing, it’s important to do your research.
Finally, while these oils can be beneficial when used supplementary, they should not be used as a replacement treatment for anxiety, depression or any other mental health disorder. If you do decide you want to look into aromatherapy to help with anxiety, for example, it’s crucial to discuss with your doctor beforehand. So, try out different oils, see what works for you, but do so safely (and enjoy)!
Guest Blogger: Mollie Clupper, Public Ally
Mollie Clupper is working as a Public Ally AmeriCorps Apprentice for MHA. Using her own experiences, she wants to help bring awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, drinking coffee, and spending time with her fur-niece.