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Elizabeth Scott, M.S.

Aromatherapy: Helpful or Hype?

By February 23, 2009

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When my oldest son was a baby (nearly a decade ago!), aromatherapy was just starting to hit the mainstream. Suddenly, aromatherapy candles, oils, lotions and other products were widely available. Every grocery store carried lavender bubble bath, touted by commercials showing serene babies and blissful moms to be the new product to effortlessly soothe a crying baby to sleep.

I wondered about those commercials. Could aromatherapy actually make a difference with me and my baby? Or were they just taking advantage of new mothers' desperate hope for an easy colic cure and route to a good night's sleep, and lack of time to do independent research on every new product geared toward them and their little bundle? And, beyond lavender bubble bath, could aromatherapy really relive stress so easily?

Well, as life calmed down for me, I eventually found the time to read the research on aromatherapy, and was a little surprised and relieved by what I saw. More studies are definitely needed, but so far, things look good. Is aromatherapy the "magic bullet" that will effortlessly cure your stress? I'm not making any promises that grand. But it really is worth a try, for several reasons, not the least of which is that it provides stress relief (and other benefits!) pretty effortlessly, while you go about your daily activities. (And for busy people, that type of virtually effortless stress relief is a real gift!)

Here's what I learned about aromatherapy, and what I'd like you to know about this stress relief technique that really does live up to some of the claims you hear:

  • Aromatherapy for Stress: Research and Techniques
    Aromatherapy, once somewhat unknown, has hit the mainstream and is touted by an increasing number of manufacturers as an effective stress relief tool. Is it? Read about the research behind aromatherapy and how aromatherapy may be used for stress relief.

  • Aromatherapy Benefits: Scents for Stress Relief
    Aromatherapy brings many stress relief benefits, and various individual scents carry aromatherapy benefits of their own. Learn more about the aromatherapy benefits of some of the most popular scents, such as peppermint, ylang-ylang, lavender, and a few others, and how you can use them for stress relief.

  • How To Meditate With Aromatherapy
    Aromatherapy and meditation are two simple and effective stress management strategies. If you've tried meditation and found it to be difficult, (or have been meaning to try it and want an easy technique), here's a simple way to meditate using incense and aromatherapy.

Like this post? Want to use it to start a discussion with your friends? Pass it on!

February 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm
(1) jeff says:

Hi E,

I am a huge proponent of aromatherapy! It does work and proven effective for both myself and my son throughout the years. There are a few things that people need to keep in mind though. Be sure to use only 100% essential oils when burning them. There are some cheap imitation oils out there and you can definitely tell the difference once you have become accustomed to the real deal. As well, I typically avoid products such as bubble bath with lavender scents for example. Why? Most of those products have chemicals in them and are not natural. Alot of them also have SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) which is potentially a cancer causing agent….studies are inconclusive about this but its best to be on the safe side….remember how long it took to get accurate studies on cigarettes and cancer! I like using plain and simple epsom or dead sea salts with 100% essential oil in my baths, I don’t get the bubbles but bubbles are typically made from products with un-natural ingredients anyways.
Also, in my experience it is wise to be sure to blow out the candle under the essential oil burner when finished with it and use the right amount of oil as per the directions on the oil bottle. Using too much essential oil can actually have the reverse affects that you are hoping for and can be overly-stimulating. Also, use a ceramic burner over a metal one and don’t let the “well run dry” so to speak, blow out the candle before all the water evaporates. Why? Ceramic burners are less likely to spark if the well runs dry, preventing a possible fire and they don’t heat up as much as metal burners. Also, be sure to put it in a safe place (e.g not on a table cloth) and one that isn’t reachable to small children and especially don’t let them burn while you or your children sleep! Sure, burning oils can be a great way to fall asleep but blow them out before you get too tired….the scent will stay for awhile yet. Perhaps, light an oil burner about 30 minutes or so before bedtime and blow them out when you’re done reading your book (or storytime for kids).
I had the unfortunate experience in an old house about 10 years ago when one of my roommates left a metal oil burner going while everyone went to bed. About 2am in the morning, I woke up to a smoky smell, so I opened up my door and there was literally a wall of flames right outside my bedroom door. What had happened was that the oil burner ran dry and so the metal (and dried oil resin in the bottom) heated up such that it started to spark. One of the sparks had dropped onto the lacy cloth that it was placed on (on a wooden desk no less) and within 5 minutes or so, well like I said, that small spark was a WALL OF FLAMES! We were lucky because the house was old and made entirely of wood so if we didn’t take action right away, the house would have been gone within about 15 minutes. (at least that’s what the fire department told us when they finally arrived) We were all lucky and nobody was hurt but if it hadn’t just snowed that night and the fire wasn’t right near the front door of the house, the results would have been disastrous. Another rooommate and myself opened the front door up, threw out a coat rack that was enflamed into the snow and starting scooping up snow and throwing it on the wall until we were finally able to snuff it out……again morale of the story….do not go to sleep with these things still burning and use ceramic vs. metal oil burners. :)

February 23, 2009 at 3:10 pm
(2) stress says:

Wow, that’s quite a cautionary tale! Thanks for sharing–you may have stopped a few fires today. (I know I’ll be thinking about your ‘wall of fire’ and ensuing snow throw the next time I burn essential oil before bed!)

You can also get diffusers that don’t use fire, for a slightly different-but-still-effective experience.

Thanks again for sharing the story, Jeff!

April 26, 2013 at 11:24 am
(3) Liza says:

Since the admin of this site is working, no doubt very soon it will be renowned, due to its quality contents.

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