Aromatherapy is the use of fragrance to enhance health and promote feelings of well-being, but there is a limit to the power it has according to scientific studies. While scents are used in modern day times to relieve pain, reduce chemotherapy side effects, and promote restful sleep, the only thing that aromatherapy has been specifically scientifically proven to do is improve mood. Therefore, claims that applied oils can function as a miraculous physical healing tool are doubtful as they are scientifically unproven. Below is an excerpt from my book Grow a Living Wall where I discuss the research I discovered on the science of scent.
Scientific Proof [an excerpt from Grow a Living Wall]
“Using orange oil in dental clinics, a study from the University of Vienna shows that female patients showed less anxiety. Mie University School of Medicine discovered that smaller doses of antidepressant medications were needed after patients trialed a citrus fragrance treatment. Controlled trials have also suggested that different types of aromatherapy might be helpful for calming suffers of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. One small study dosed a hospital ward with either water or lavender oil scent for several hours. A researcher who was unaware of the study’s design and wore a sensory block to prevent inhalation of odors was sent to rigorously examine the behavior of the residents who all had dementia. Results indicated that lavender oil aromatherapy decreased agitated behavior and encouraged calmness.”
“There can be a toxic effect to essential oils when they are not inhaled and are instead consumed orally in large quantities. Various oils can produce illness and even fatal effects, so essential oils should be both inhaled and consumed within suggested parameters due to safety concerns. Natural plants, however, do not have that restriction because they have not been distilled down to an essential oil are safe and beneficial for sniffing. With the knowledge that scents can be a mood enhancer – either calming or stimulating – having scented plants in a living wall garden is a powerful way to build a healthier mood.”
Testing the Theory
While scented plants have been marvelous for scent in my garden, I am dramatically allergic to certain chemically created as well as essential oil scents as they can make me physically ill and can trigger asthma attacks and more. There are only three scents I can comfortably tolerate – mint, rose, and grapefruit/citrus. Additionally, some scented items trigger a skin reaction, so I can only use lightly scented products that are more natural based. Clothes soaps, for example, are so strongly scented that I cannot use them and have to go “unscented”. For the last three months I have been testing out the theory of scent improving mood by using my tolerated scents in soaps, lotions, and beauty products.
As I predicted, there have been no miraculous changes in my wellness related to adding more scent to my beauty regimen and I do not see myself as a purveyor of essential oils in the future. HOWEVER, and this is a big however, I do look forward to using the products because they smell so good. When I apply the scented items I get this interesting level of relaxation and enjoyment from the experience. I have tried several dozen products over the last several months and selected the one’s that have I have truly enjoyed and listed them below.
PRODUCTS I LIKED FOR SCENT –
Disney Resorts H20+ Bergamot Bath Collection — Love the shower gel and body lotion. Makes me feel like I’m in citrus heaven. Sometimes I wash twice in the shower just to get the double grapefruit effect. No kidding.
Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap – This one is fantastic in the shower or as a foot wash. Love the brisk mint feel to the soap. Best yet, castile soap can be diluted and used as a clothing wash, vegetable rinse, or house cleaner. Pretty amazing stuff.
Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater Hand Therapy Lotion – One of my favorites – I keep the lotion by my computer and use it 3 or 4 times a day.
The Honest Co. Hand Soap in Mandarin – Wonderful scent and all natural; I have now replaced all the hand soaps in the house with this scent.
Andalou Naturals Sensitive 1000 Roses – Special thanks to the Andalou Sensitive products company for sending out products to test. I tried many of their products, but only include my most preferred below. My ABSOLUTE favorite was the Andalou Naturals Sensitive 1000 Roses Moroccan Beauty Oil – after I put the Crabtree & Evelyn Rosewater hand lotion on, I apply the oil to my horrid nail cuticles and I feel as if the cuticles have been looking a lot better lately thanks to the oil application. Plus the smell is delicious and gets me energized.
- Andalou Naturals Sensitive 1000 Roses Moroccan Beauty Oil – The Best! I use it for my cuticles, but also for my hair. This has become my favorite product out of all those listed here.
- Andalou Naturals Sensitive 1000 Roses Cleansing Foam – Excellent cleanser with a dreamy rose scent. I leave this in the shower and use it while my conditioner is in my hair doing it’s thing.
- Andalou Naturals Sensitive 1000 Roses Heavenly Night Cream – Really a fine night cream, but more suited to summer as it is too lightweight for my skin during a Chicago winter. I used it for daytime, then used my regular heavier cream for night.
- Andalou Naturals Sensitive 1000 Roses CC Cream in Sheer Tan – This smells only gently of rose, but felt great on the skin. If you are sensitive to SPF, this might be a concern as the CC Cream contains an SPF protection. I have a hard time wearing any foundation; this is the first foundation or CC Cream that I have been able to use in the last 3 years. Wonderfully moist and soft on the skin.
And so – the experiment was an interesting one. I tried dozens of products and found that not all scents make me feel good or energized or in a better mood. It’s selective and individual and therefore, not very scientific. While scents and essential oils aren’t miracle healers, they can lift my mood and make me feel better – give it a try with beauty products and see if it will do the same for you. Of course, trying aromatherapy with herbs and plants in the garden is a must do for your garden this season.