RESEARCH UPDATE ON EVIDENCE-BASED AROMATHERAPY

Preparing Plaai herbs before distillation

Evidence-Based Aromatherapy: Stress Relief and so much more

The health benefits of aromatherapy can no longer be considered placebo in nature. Accumulating evidence now shows that the fragrance of flowers and other volatile plant compounds pack a punch as powerful as certain drugs.

 

Nowadays, bouts of stress and anxiety occur at least occasionally during the course of daily life. If the experience is completely alien to you, you may not be paying attention to what's going on in the world around us -- or, you may be enlightened, and should be congratulated.

Certainly, anti-anxiety drugs can be effective, but they are also addictive and dangerous, with withdrawal symptoms that include seizures and, paradoxically, extreme anxiety. 

Therefore, natural alternatives are needed now more than ever.

Fortunately, finding a non-pharmaceutical solution is no longer a matter of guessing, or relying solely on the anecdotal accounts of others. 

There is an accumulating body of pre-clinical and clinical research available today demonstrating the power, safety and effectiveness of natural compounds for relieving stress and anxiety

In fact, some of these substances do not even require being ingested, as they can be inhaled in exceedingly small doses to be effective.

For example, back in 2002, an amazing discovery was reported in the Japanese Journal of Pharmacology. Researchers found that the simple inhalation of patchouli and rose oil reduced sympathetic nervous activity by 40%, with rose oil reducing adrenaline concentrations by 30%.1    

Such a profound reduction in fight-or-flight associated hormones is hard to accomplish through other non-toxic means. In fact, many folks use alcohol, tobacco and harder drugs, and even foods that contain opioid peptides, to self-medicate themselves down from the emotional cliff -- but not without a wide range of unintended, adverse health effects.  

All the more reason to appreciate the power of therapeutic fragrances.

 

Many flowers are well-suited to calm the human body and soul, bringing them back into greater balance. 

Lavender oil, for instance, has also been studied for the ability to reduce stress,2 anxiety, aggression,3and cortisol levels,4 among two dozen other potential therapeutic properties.5  

Aromatherapy, of course, works primarily through the nose, but can also act through the lung and the skin. When inhaled, volatile aroma compounds from plants exert direct-to-brain actions, primarily through the limbic and olfactory systems. 

As opposed to the oral ingestion or topical application of a drug or herbal substance, aromatherapy offers a far higher margin of safety because the active compounds are small molecules.

 

Aromatherapy offers far more than Stress Reduction

Stress and anxiety are only two of 30 potential therapeutic applications that have been studied in connection with aromatherapy.  

Others of note include:

Dysmenorrhea (Menstraul Pain): Aromatherapy massage on the abdomen was found superior to Tylenol for alleviating menstrual pain in high school girls.6   Another study, this time in college students, found that the topical application of a combination of lavender, clary sage and rose essential oils was effective in decreasing the severity of menstrual cramps.7

Insomnia: Lavender fragrance has been found effective in a number of studies for treating mild insomnia.8, 9 Beyond sleep-promoting properties, lavender has also been found to simultaneously reduce depression in women college students.10

Excessive Chocolate Cravings: While there are worse addictions, Jasmine essential oil has been found to reduce chocolate cravings.11

Reducing Tobacco Withdrawal: The inhalation of vapor from black pepper extract reduces smoking withdrawal symptoms.12

Arthritis Pain: The essential oils lavender, marjoram, eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint blended in proportions of 2:1:2:1:1, resulted in decreased pain and depression scores in arthritic patients.13

Infantile Colic: aromatherapy massage using lavender oil was found to be effective in reducing colic symptoms of.14

Alzheimer's Disease: 28 days of aromatherapy with rosemary and lemon essential oils in the morning, and lavender and orange in the evening, resulted in significant improvement in personal orientation related to cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients.15

Migraines: Inhalation of lavender essential oil appears to be an effective and safe treatment in acute migraine headaches.16

Postpartum Depression: Aromatherapy-massage has been shown to have value for postpartum mothers in improving physical and mental status and to facilitate mother-infant interaction.17

 

View the Evidence:  Aroma Therapeutic Actions

Lavender and rose oil aromatherapy has been determined to have  anti-anxiety activity.   

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Rev Neurosci. 2010;21(2):141-52. PMID: 20614803

Article Published Date : Jan 01, 2010

Study Type : Meta Analysis

Additional Links

Substances : Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)Rose : CK(96) : AC(24)

Diseases : Anxiety Disorders : CK(828) : AC(98)Generalized Anxiety Disorder : CK(58) : AC(8)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Pharmacological Actions : Anxiolytic : CK(340) : AC(49)

40 arthritic patients divided into 2 groups, one was treated with an essential oil blend which decreased pain and depression levels.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2005 Feb ;35(1):186-94. PMID: 15778570     Article Published Date : Jan 31, 2005

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Eucalyptus : CK(67) : AC(22)Marjoram : CK(21) : AC(7)Rosemary : CK(174) : AC(62)

Diseases : Depression : CK(884) : AC(94)Rheumatoid Arthritis : CK(454) : AC(69)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

A hot foot-bath and oil of lavender appear to be associated with small but significant changes in autonomic activity.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Complement Ther Med. 2000 Mar ;8(1):2-7. PMID: 10812753   Article Published Date : Mar 01, 2000

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)Hot Water Bath : CK(10) : AC(1)

Additional Keywords : Phytotherapy : CK(746) : AC(116)Plant Extracts : CK(4455) : AC(1395)

A mixture of essential oils by inhalation was used with a group of 3-4 year old children to prevent acute respiratory diseases and alleviate the symptoms of rhiniti s. The essential oil blend was found effective with no side effects noted.    Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Vestn Otorinolaringol. 2011(5):51-4. PMID: 22334926    Article Published Date : Dec 31, 2010

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Essential Oils: Unspecified : CK(37) : AC(6)

Diseases : Allergic Rhinitis : CK(340) : AC(40)Rhinitis : CK(20) : AC(1)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Pharmacological Actions : Anti-Bacterial Agents : CK(1013) : AC(321)

Additional Keywords : Essential Oils : CK(11) : AC(2)Pediatric : CK(40) : AC(3)Plant Extracts : CK(4455) : AC(1395)

Ambient odor of orange in a dental office reduces anxiety and improves mood in female patients.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Physiol Behav. 2000 Oct 1-15;71(1-2):83-6. PMID: 11134689

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Orange : CK(126) : AC(28)

Diseases : Anxiety Disorders : CK(828) : AC(98)Mood Disorders : CK(123) : AC(13)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Physiol Behav. 2005 Sep 15;86(1-2):92-5. PMID: 16095639   Article Published Date : Sep 15, 2005

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)Orange : CK(126) : AC(28)

Diseases : Anxiety Disorders : CK(828) : AC(98)Mood Disorders : CK(123) : AC(13)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Aromatherapeutic combination of lavender, ylang-ylang and bergamont reduces objective and subjective stress markers .

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006 Dec;36(7):1123-34. PMID: 17211115   Article Published Date : Dec 01, 2006

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Bergamot : CK(22) : AC(3)Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)Ylang-ylang : CK(30) : AC(3)

Diseases : Stress : CK(456) : AC(62)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Aroma-massage therapy with ginger and orange oil have potential as an alternative method for short-term knee pain relief.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Microbes Infect. 2006 May;8(6):1450-4. Epub 2006 Mar 29. PMID: 18534325    Article Published Date : May 01, 2006

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Ginger : CK(424) : AC(113)Orange: CK(126) : AC(28)

Diseases : Osteoarthritis: Knee : CK(377) : AC(40)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)Massage/Therapeutic Touch : CK(710) : AC(72)

Aromatherapy abdominal massage has a positive effect on alleviating menstrual pain in nursing students.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013 ;2013:742421. Epub 2013 Apr 11. PMID: 23662151

Article Published Date : Dec 31, 2012

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Essential Oils: Unspecified : CK(37) : AC(6)

Diseases : Dysmenorrhea : CK(325) : AC(35)Menstrual Cramps : CK(30) : AC(3)painful menstruationPremenstrual syndrome : CK(180) : AC(18)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)Aromatherapy Massage : CK(70) : AC(7)

Pharmacological Actions : Analgesics : CK(616) : AC(100)

Aromatherapy has a positive effect on dementia in patients with Alzheimer's disease.  Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Psychogeriatrics. 2009 Dec ;9(4):173-9. PMID: 20377818    Article Published Date : Nov 30, 2009

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Lavender: Essential Oil : CK(63) : AC(2)Rosemary: Essential Oil : CK(10) : AC(1)

Diseases : Dementia : CK(275) : AC(37)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Aromatherapy is effective in lowering systolic blood pressure and sympathetic nerve system activity.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : J Korean Acad Nurs. 2010 Oct;40(5):705-13. PMID: 21157172   Article Published Date : Oct 01, 2010

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)Lemon Oil : CK(31) : AC(4)Ylang-ylang : CK(30) : AC(3)

Diseases : Hypertension : CK(3254) : AC(285)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Pharmacological Actions : Hypotensive : CK(425) : AC(57)

Aromatherapy massage has immunological benefits.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2005 Jun;2(2):179-184. Epub 2005 Apr 27. PMID: 15937558

Article Published Date : Jun 01, 2005

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Diseases : Immune Disorders: Low Immune Function : CK(485) : AC(116)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)Massage/Therapeutic Touch : CK(710) : AC(72)

Aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting for reducing  insomnia.   Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Palliat Med. 2004 Mar;18(2):87-92. PMID: 15046404

Article Published Date : Mar 01, 2004

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)

Diseases : Insomnia : CK(471) : AC(57)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)Massage/Therapeutic Touch : CK(710) : AC(72)

Aromatherapy massage on the abdomen is superior to Tylenol for alleviating menstrual pain in high school girls.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012 ;2012:187163. Epub 2011 Sep 22. PMID: 21949670

Article Published Date : Jan 01, 2012

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Diseases : Dysmenorrhea : CK(325) : AC(35)Menstrual Cramps : CK(30) : AC(3)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Additional Keywords : Drug: Tylenol : CK(10) : AC(1)Superiority of Natural Substances versus Drugs : CK(1091) : AC(196)Therapeutic Action Superior to Drug Therapy : CK(370) : AC(38)

Aromatherapy massage using lavender oil  for infantile colic.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Int J Nurs Pract. 2012 Apr ;18(2):164-9. PMID: 22435980    Article Published Date : Apr 01, 2012

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)

Diseases : Colic : CK(74) : AC(12)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)Aromatherapy Massage : CK(70) : AC(7)Massage/Therapeutic Touch : CK(710) : AC(72)

Aromatherapy with rosemary, lemon and peppermint helps relieve constipation in the elderly.  Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2005 Feb;35(1):56-64. PMID: 15778557   Article Published Date : Feb 01, 2005

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Lemon Oil : CK(31) : AC(4)Peppermint : CK(300) : AC(48)Rosemary : CK(174) : AC(62)

Diseases : Constipation : CK(346) : AC(38)Elderly: Age Specific Diseases : CK(442) : AC(38)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)Aromatherapy Massage : CK(70) : AC(7)

Aromatherapy with topically applied lavender, clary sage and rose is effective in decreasing the severity of menstrual cramps in college students with dysmenorrhea.   Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;12(6):535-41. PMID: 16884344   Article Published Date : Jul 01, 2006

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Clary Sage : CK(10) : AC(2)Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)Rose : CK(96) : AC(24)

Diseases : Dysmenorrhea : CK(325) : AC(35)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Aromatherapy-massage for postpartum mothers to improve physical and mental status and to facilitate mother-infant interaction.  

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : J Midwifery Womens Health. 2006 Mar-Apr; 51(2):e21-7. PMID: 16504900     Article Published Date : Mar 01, 2006

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Diseases : Postpartum Depression : CK(199) : AC(24)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)Massage/Therapeutic Touch : CK(710) : AC(72)

Coconut fragrance may alter  cardiovascular  activity  both  at rest and in response to stressors.  Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Holist Nurs Pract. 2010 Nov-Dec;24(6):322-32. PMID: 21037456   Article Published Date : Oct 31, 2010

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Coconut : CK(125) : AC(36)

Diseases : Stress : CK(456) : AC(62)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Additional Keywords : Phytotherapy : CK(746) : AC(116)

Cortisol levels of mothers and infants decreased when mothers gave infants a bath in lavender-scented water. Click to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Early Hum Dev. 2008 Jun ;84(6):399-401. Epub 2007 Nov 28. PMID: 18053656  Article Published Date : Jun 01, 2008

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)

Diseases : Cortisol: High : CK(531) : AC(61)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Additional Keywords : cortisol

Essential oils of black pepper and angelica reduced the level of nicotine craving and allowed a longer delay before next use of tobacco.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Aug ;19(8):709-13. Epub 2013 Mar 28. PMID:23536963

Article Published Date : Jul 31, 2013

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Angelica : CK(67) : AC(25)Black Pepper : CK(89) : AC(37)

Diseases : Smoking Cessation: Nicotine Addiction : CK(121) : AC(17)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Additional Keywords : Natural Substance Synergy : CK(230) : AC(107)

Fragrance inhalation of patchouli and rose oil reduce sympathetic nervous system activity by 40%; rose oil reduces adrenaline concentrations by 30%. Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Jpn J Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;90(3):247-53. PMID: 12499579          Article Published Date : Nov 01, 2002

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Black Pepper : CK(89) : AC(37)Patchouli : CK(15) : AC(6)Rose : CK(96) : AC(24)

Diseases : Adrenaline: Elevated : CK(10) : AC(1)Adrenaline: Low : CK(10) : AC(1),Catecholamines: Elevated : CK(76) : AC(10)Catecholamines: Low : CK(10) : AC(1),Hypertension : CK(3254) : AC(285)Sympathetic Nervous System Diseases : CK(10) : AC(1)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Inhalation of Lavender essential oil used in treatment of migraine headache with significant response. Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Eur Neurol. 2012 ;67(5):288-91. Epub 2012 Apr 17. PMID: 22517298          Article Published Date : Dec 31, 2011

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Lavender : CK(330) : AC(38)

Diseases : Migraine Disorders : CK(496) : AC(59)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Inhalation of vapor from black pepper reduces smoking withdrawal symptoms.    Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : Drug Alcohol Depend. 1994 Feb;34(3):225-9. PMID: 8033760      Article Published Date : Feb 01, 1994

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Substances : Black Pepper : CK(89) : AC(37)

Diseases : Smoking Cessation : CK(103) : AC(11)Smoking Cessation: Nicotine Addiction : CK(121) : AC(17)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

Inhaling essential oils may  reduce  perceived level of mental fatigue or burnout.

Click here to read the entire abstract

Pubmed Data : J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Nov 9. Epub 2012 Nov 9. PMID: 23140115 Article Published Date : Nov 08, 2012

Study Type : Human Study

Additional Links

Diseases : Mental Fatigue : CK(30) : AC(3)

Therapeutic Actions : Aromatherapy : CK(471) : AC(47)

 

Resources

1 Shinichiro Haze, Keiko Sakai, Yoko Gozu . Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults. Jpn J Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;90(3):247-53. PMID: 12499579

2 Sioh Kim, Hyun-Jae Kim, Jin-Seok Yeo, Sung-Jung Hong, Ji-Min Lee, Younghoon Jeon. The effect of lavender oil on stress, bispectral index values, and needle insertion pain in volunteersJ Altern Complement Med. 2011 Sep ;17(9):823-6. Epub 2011 Aug 19. PMID: 21854199

3 Sun-Young Lee. [The effect of lavender aromatherapy on cognitive function, emotion, and aggressive behavior of elderly with dementia]. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2005 Apr;35(2):303-12. PMID: 15860944

4 Masahiro Toda, Kanehisa Morimoto. Effect of lavender aroma on salivary endocrinological stress markersArch Oral Biol. 2008 Oct;53(10):964-8. Epub 2008 Jul 16. PMID: 18635155

5 GreenMedInfo.com, Lavender's Health Benefits

 Myung-Haeng Hur, Myeong Soo Lee, Ka-Yeon Seong, Mi-Kyoung Lee. Aromatherapy massage on the abdomen for alleviating menstrual pain in high school girls: a preliminary controlled clinical studyEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012 ;2012:187163. Epub 2011 Sep 22. PMID:21949670

7 Sun-Hee Han, Myung-Haeng Hur, Jane Buckle, Jeeyae Choi, Myeong Soo Lee. Effect of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrhea in college students: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trialJ Altern Complement Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;12(6):535-41. PMID: 16884344

8 George T Lewith, Anthony Dean Godfrey, Philip Prescott. A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomniaJ Altern Complement Med. 2005 Aug;11(4):631-7. PMID: 16131287

9 Li-Wei Chien, Su Li Cheng, Chi Feng Liu . The effect of lavender aromatherapy on autonomic nervous system in midlife women with insomniaEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012 ;2012:740813. Epub 2011 Aug 18. PMID: 21869900

10 Inn-Sook Lee, Gyung-Joo Lee. [Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students]. Br J Pharmacol. 1999 Sep;128(2):380-4. PMID: 16520572

11 Eva Kemps, Marika Tiggemann, Sarah Bettany. Non-food odorants reduce chocolate cravings.Appetite. 2012 Mar 9. Epub 2012 Mar 9. PMID: 22407134

12 J E Rose, F M Behm. Inhalation of vapor from black pepper extract reduces smoking withdrawal symptomsDrug Alcohol Depend. 1994 Feb;34(3):225-9. PMID: 8033760

13 Myung-Ja Kim, Eun-Sook Nam, Seun-In Paik . [The effects of aromatherapy on pain, depression, and life satisfaction of arthritis patients]. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2005 Feb ;35(1):186-94. PMID: 15778570

14 Bengü Cetinkaya, Zümrüt Başbakkal. The effectiveness of aromatherapy massage using lavender oil as a treatment for infantile colicInt J Nurs Pract. 2012 Apr ;18(2):164-9. PMID:22435980

15 Daiki Jimbo, Yuki Kimura, Miyako Taniguchi, Masashi Inoue, Katsuya Urakami. Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer's diseasePsychogeriatrics. 2009 Dec ;9(4):173-9. PMID: 20377818

16 Payam Sasannejad, Morteza Saeedi, Ali Shoeibi, Ali Gorji, Maryam Abbasi, Mohsen Foroughipour . Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache: a placebo-controlled clinical trialEur Neurol. 2012 ;67(5):288-91. Epub 2012 Apr 17. PMID: 22517298

17 Masumi Imura, Hanako Misao, Hiroshi Ushijima. The psychological effects of aromatherapy-massage in healthy postpartum mothersJ Midwifery Womens Health. 2006 Mar-Apr;51(2):e21-7. PMID: 16504900