Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy refers to the therapeutic use of oils for healing and relaxation. It is a very old remedy, traced back to the ancient Egyptians and Chinese. In the 11th century, Avicenna distilled essential oils for medicinal purpose.

Oils are extracted from plants, flowers and herbs. When you inhale the odor, the aroma travels through your nose. The odor is converted into electrical signals that travel into the deep parts of your brain known as the limbic system which controls our emotions and mood. A soothing aroma has a soothing effect on your emotions.

Several studies have shown that aromatherapy does have benefit on the sleep quality. A 2011 study showed that 12 weeks of lavender aromatherapy imparted significant improvement in sleep quality in women aged 45-55.  Another interesting study from Japan showed that aromatherapy with lavender oil helped night-shift workers (technicians and physicians) improve their endothelial function after a working night. Endothelial function refers to the healthy functioning of the cells lining the the blood vessels. Heart disease, hypertension and other atherosclerotic disease are caused partly by a malfunctioning endothelium.

Tips:

You can experience aromatherapy in different ways:

  • Aroma bath. Add few drops into the warm water.
  • Foot bath. You can add few drops of oil into a warm foot bath
  • Apply a small amount to your wrist or rub your feet
  • Combined with a massage
  •  Inhaled oils. Spray or mist
  • Candles and burners.  Avoid using if you want to fall asleep. Best used during the day.

Herbs and oils:

  • Lavender is the most popular essential oil used for sleep. Its scent is calming.
  • Sage
  • Sandlewood
  • Lemon balm
  • Chamomile
  • Tangerine
  • Marjoram
  • Or create a combination

 

References:

Chien LW, Cheng SL, Liu CF. The effect of lavender aromatherapy on autonomic nervous system in midlife women with insomnia.  Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:740813. doi: 10.1155/2012/740813. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

Shimada K, Fukuda S, Maeda K, Kawasaki T, Kono Y, Jissho S, Taguchi H, Yoshiyama M, Yoshikawa J. Aromatherapy alleviates endothelial dysfunction of medical staff after night-shift work: preliminary observations. Hypertens Res. 2011 Feb;34(2):264-7. doi: 10.1038/hr.2010.228. Epub 2010 Nov 25.