I have written a few times about aromatherapy and the benefit of essential oils. I have shared how they can help reduce stress, treat acne, help balance the chakras, and assist with a few other conditions. I have even shared with you my favorite essential oils, as well as different ways in which to incorporate aromatherapy into our lives.
But, aromatherapy and essential oils also have little known benefits of supporting high blood pressure, cognitive tasks, menopause, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Here are studies that have shown how they support these four conditions.
Essential Oils Support Reduction of High Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure was measured in a study conducted over a 7-month period on 83 men and women aged 20 to 59 years suffering from hypertension. The participants were divided such that 28 received inhalation of an essential oil, 27 got inhalation of an artificial fragrance, and 28 got no treatment. The essential oils used were a mixture of lavender (Lavandula officinalis), ylang ylang (Cananga odorata), marjoram (Origanum marjorana), and neroli (Citrus aurantium). Blood pressure decreased only in the group inhaling essential oils, and increased in the group inhaling artificial fragrance and the group receiving no treatment. However, these results varied over time, and there eventually was a decrease in blood pressure in the group receiving artificial fragrance. Still, blood pressure reduced more significantly in the group receiving essential oils than in the group receiving the artificial fragrance (Kim et al., 2012).
Another study looked at 34 women and tested the effects of clary sage (Salvia sclarea) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) on several measures including blood pressure. The patients were to hold a cotton pad in front of their nostrils during a 60-minute examination. Ten patients had a cotton pad with almond oil, 12 patients had a cotton pad with clary sage essential oil, and the remaining 12 patients had a cotton pad with lavender essential oil. The women who received the almond oil and the lavender oil had an increase in blood pressure, but the women who received the clary sage oil had a decrease in blood pressure (Seol et al., 2013).
Essential Oils Aid in Cognitive Tasks
A double-blind study on 81 adults aged 50 to 85 years looked at the effects of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) on their performance of cognitive tasks. The adults were randomly assigned to receive inhalation of lavender diluted in grape seed oil, a mixture of coconut oil and grape seed oil, or distilled water. Some participants were additionally told that they would be inhaling a substance that would help them reduce stress prior to conducting the activity. The participants who were told they were receiving a stress-reducing inhalation experienced increased cognitive function and less reaction time in performing the tasks. Although there was improved functioning amongst the group receiving essential oils, telling the participants they would experience a beneficial effect was more important in cognitive improvement than were the essential oils by themselves (Chamine & Oken, 2015).
Essential Oils Support Relief of Menopause Symptoms
Menopause is a normal process that women go through during mid-life, and can be accompanied by symptoms such as fatigue, sadness, depression, anxiety, stress, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping. A double-blind randomized controlled study was conducted on 63 menopausal women who received either almond oil or neroli (Citrus aurantium) essential oil diluted in almond oil. They inhaled the oil for 5 minutes twice a day for 5 consecutive days. Participants measured their own level of stress on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 indicated no stress and 10 indicated extreme stress. Blood pressure, pulse rate, and others parameters were also measured. Stress decreased, as did blood pressure and pulse rate, indicating that neroli increased feelings of calm and relaxation, and could aid in the relief of menopausal symptoms (Choi, Kang, Lee, & Seol, 2014).
Essential Oils Help Relieve PTSD
PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is common amongst refugees and survivors of torture. In 2011, the UNHCR stated there were nearly 35.5 million refugees, out which 3 to 30% suffered from torture. In addition, there are people who suffer from torture for various reasons in over 100 countries worldwide. Symptoms of PTSD include anxiety, depression, and low quality of sleep. Aromatherapy is noninvasive and was easy to implement. The study suggested that aromatherapy could be used in any form of counseling or therapy because it provided a more comfortable environment that promoted relaxation and encouraged rapport between the patient and the practitioner (Longacre, Silver-Highfield, Lama, & Grodin, 2012).
Although the four conditions listed here, high blood pressure, cognitive tasks, menopause, and PTSD, are unrelated, they show the range of action that aromatherapy can have, as well as the additional effectiveness of essential oils.
Chamine, I. & Oken, B. S. (2014). Expectancy of stress-reducing aromatherapy effect and performance on stress-sensitive cognitive task. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2015(419812), 1-10. doi:http://dx/doi.org/10.1155/2015/419812
Choi, S.Y, Kang, P., Lee, H.S., & Seol, G. H. (2014). Effects of inhalation of essential oil of Citrus aurantium L. var. amara on menopausal symptoms, stress, and estrogen in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2014(796518), 1-7. doi:10.1155/2014/796518
Kim, I., Kim, C., Seong, K., Hur, M., Lim, H. M., & Lee, M. S. (2012). Essential oil inhalation on blood pressure and salivary cortisol levels in prehypertensive and hypertensive subjects. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012(984203), 1-9. doi:10.1155/2012/984203
Liu, S. H., Lin, T. H., & Chang, K. M. (2013). The physical effects of aromatherapy in alleviating work-related stress on elementary school teachers in Taiwan. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013(853809), 1-7. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/853809
Longacre, M., Silver-Highfield, E., Lama, P., & Grodin, M. A. (2012). Complementary and alternative medicine in the treatment of refugees and
Seol, G.H., Lee, Y. H., Kang, P., You, J. H., Park, M. & Min, S. S. (2013). Randomized controlled trial for Salvia sclarea or Lavandula angustifolia: differential effects on blood pressure in female patients with urinary incontinence undergoing urodynamic examination. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 19(7), 664-670. doi:10.1089/acm.2012.0148