Lucky Monroe

Stop and Smell the roses

So, I used to be a HUGE fan of Bath and Body Works. I loved the scents, the smells, candles, air fresheners, you name it. I love smelling good and smelling good things. Now, notice I said USED TO. Almost a year ago, I chose to stop using their products to avoid exposing my body to some not so healthy things (comment if you want a post discussing those things and what to look for). I was left with a dilemma, I wanted to keep my old sweet smelling life without all the extra crap. So I started exploring.

It helped ALOT that I was in my master’s program and I had a wealth of information at my fingertips, through reading material and even individuals who used essential oils all the time. So today, I want to talk about one of my favorite things because not only was it my knightess in shining armor, but it also came with a grocery list of possible benefits depending on the oil of choice.

Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils and other aroma compounds for improving psychological or physical well-being and prevention of disease. Other stated uses include pain and anxiety reduction, enhancement of energy and short-term memory, relaxation, hair loss prevention, and reduction of eczema-induced itching. One is the influence of aroma on the brain, especially the limbic system through the olfactory system. The other is the direct pharmacological effects of the essential oils. If you want another post specifically addressing scientific evidence, just comment below. I’d love to share what I have come across.

 

Here are a few benefits I personally see and some suggestions for some to try:

  1. Balance Hormones

There are essential oils that can help to balance your estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, thyroid and testosterone levels.

Some oils, like clary sage, geranium and thyme, help to balance out estrogen and progesterone levels in your body, which can improve conditions like infertility and PCOS, as well as PMS and menopause symptoms. A 2017 published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters indicates that some essential oils, notably geranium and rose, have the ability to influence the salivary concentration of estrogen in women. This may be helpful for women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms that are caused by declining levels of estrogen secretion.

Essential oils are also able to lower cortisol levels, which can help to improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression, and increase testosterone levels, which can improve a man’s libido.

2. Boost Immunity & Fight Infections

Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that help to boost your immune system and fight infections. The chemical substances found in essential oils, such as terpenes, esters, phenolics, ethers and ketones, have the potential to fight foreign pathogens that can threaten your health. Some of the best essential oils for your immunity include oregano, myrrh, ginger, lemon, eucalyptus, frankincense, peppermint (or Mentha piperita) and cinnamon.

Studies have shown that essential oils effectively destroy several fungal, viral and bacterial pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori and Candida albicans infections. Because antibiotic resistance is becoming such a major threat in modern health care, using essential oils as a form of independent or combination therapy can help to fight bacterial infections in a safer and more natural way.

 

3. Support Digestion

Another well-researched essential oils benefit is their role in aiding and improving digestion. Some oils help to relieve upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhea, stomach spasms and even conditions of the gastrointestinal system, like IBS. Essential oils can also aid your digestion by helping to stimulate digestive enzymes that make it easier to break down and absorb the nutrients, fats and protein that you need.

Ginger essential oil, for example, is known to promote your digestive health by easing indigestion, constipation and ulcers. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that ginger oil stimulated gastric emptying in people with indigestion. Ginger oil is also used to relieve gas, reduce nausea and ease abdominal pain.

Another useful essential oil for digestion is peppermint. Research shows that peppermint oil works to provide rapid relief of IBS symptoms. In a 4-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 72 patients with IBS received either peppermint oil or placebo. The peppermint group experienced a 40 percent reduction in total IBS symptoms after 4 weeks, which was superior to the 24 percent decrease of symptoms reported by the patients in the placebo group. After just 24 hours of using peppermint oil, the treatment group experienced a decrease in symptoms of 19.6 percent.

Some other essential oils that are helpful for digestion include fennel, lemongrass, marjoram, black pepper and juniper berry.

4. Boost Energy Levels

Did you know that essential oils can help to boost your energy levels and even improve your athletic performance? Some oils have stimulating effects and can actually increase oxygen to your brain, which will leave you feeling refreshed, focused and energized.

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that peppermint oil increased brain oxygen concentration, improved exercise performance and reduced exhaustion in healthy male athletes who consumed peppermint oil with water for 10 days.

Some other great essential oils for energy include grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, eucalyptus and rosemary.

5. Improve Brain Function

Essential oils have neuroprotective effects and can help to improve cognitive performance. This is one of the most impressive essential oil benefits and it has helped many people who are suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In a scientific review published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers found that because essential oils possess powerful antioxidants that work to inhibit free radical scavenging, they help to naturally improve brain function and reduce inflammation.

Essential oils have also shown to improve learning, memory and ability to focus. Both stimulating and sedative essential oils can be useful, as oils like peppermint can improve sustained attention over a longer period of time, while oils like lavender can be useful for people going through tough exercises or situations. Furthermore, essential oils can be useful in relieving agitation in individuals with dementia. This is due to their calming and sedative effects.

References:

  1. Vickers A, Zollman C. ABC of complementary medicine. Massage therapies. BMJ. 1999 Nov 6;319(7219):1254–1257. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  2. Buckle J. Use of aromatherapy as a complementary treatment for chronic pain. Altern Ther Health Med. 1999 Sep;5(5):42–51. [PubMed]
  3. Papadopoulos A, Wright S, Ensor J. Evaluation and attributional analysis of an aromatherapy service for older adults with physical health problems and carers using the service. Complement Ther Med. 1999 Dec;7(4):239–244. [PubMed]
  4. Hardy M, Kirk-Smith MD, Stretch DD. Replacement of drug treatment for insomnia by ambient odour. Lancet. 1995 Sep 9;346(8976):701–701. [PubMed]
  5. Diego MA, Jones NA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C, McAdam V, Galamaga R, Galamaga M. Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. Int J Neurosci. 1998 Dec;96(3-4):217–224. [PubMed]
  6. Romine IJ, Bush AM, Geist CR. Lavender aromatherapy in recovery from exercise. Percept Mot Skills. 1999 Jun;88(3 Pt 1):756–758. [PubMed]
  7. Sugawara Y, Hino Y, Kawasaki M, Hara C, Tamura K, Sugimoto N, Yamanishi Y, Miyauchi M, Masujima T, Aoki T. Alteration of perceived fragrance of essential oils in relation to type of work: a simple screening test for efficacy of aroma. Chem Senses. 1999 Aug;24(4):415–421. [PubMed]
  8. Jadad AR, Moore RA, Carroll D, Jenkinson C, Reynolds DJ, Gavaghan DJ, McQuay HJ. Assessing the quality of reports of randomized clinical trials: is blinding necessary? Control Clin Trials. 1996 Feb;17(1):1–12. [PubMed]
  9. Hay IC, Jamieson M, Ormerod AD. Randomized trial of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata. Arch Dermatol. 1998 Nov;134(11):1349–1352. [PubMed]
  10. Cohen BM, Dressler WE. Acute aromatics inhalation modifies the airways. Effects of the common cold. Respiration. 1982;43(4):285–293. [PubMed]
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