I must admit since C19 started I’ve been in an anxious state. I went from sleeping 8 hour/night STRAIGHT to waking up three times in a night. I always enjoyed forms of aromatherapy from young. My babysitter was always burning incense, so it kind of stuck with me.
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy or “essential oil therapy” is the use of oils from plants, trees, or herbs as a form of complementary medicine. Overall, believed to promote health and wellness. These oils are used in massages, baths, or inhaled through a diffuser.
It is a form of complementary and alternative medicine
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard medical care. Examples include yoga, reflexology, reiki, acupuncture, and the list goes on.
Which oil helps with what?
There are 3 common oils being studied in relation to their healing effect.
Lavender & Anxiety
Orange & Anxiety
Peppermint & Nausea
This blog post will focus mainly on lavender oil.
In Health Canada's Natural Health Products Ingredients Database, they list five acceptable uses of lavender oil.
This looks promising! But what does the science say? Is there any actual evidence to support that lavender oil can provide these results?
A study in an ICU compared patients massaged with lavender oil vs. patient massaged with lavender oil. Patients reported they felt less anxious, however there were no objective differences in relation to breathing, blood pressure or heart rate.
A double-blind study compared lavender-infused oil to the drug Valium/Ativan for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People who took the lavender oil found that it reduced their anxiety without the hangover side-effect they experienced while taking Valium.
Okay, there's little to no evidence to support lavender oils connection to anxiety. But let's say you choose to continue using lavender oil. Is it safe?
There has been some research that shows lavender has estrogenic effects or a decline in male hormone activity.
They found young boys exposed to lavender products started developing breasts, but when they stopped using these products, so did the breast development.
This study involved 3 young boys
There was no placebo control
No idea what kind of product(s) these young boys were using
In summary, the evidence is limited. But that does not mean it cannot enhance your wellbeing. Sometimes there just isn’t enough science to support or not support something 🤷🏿♀️
If you feel better overall, there's no shame in engaging in aromatherapy.
Listen to your body, if it brings you joy and pleasure with no health consequences. Then do so.
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Government of Canada, H. (2007). Ingredient Search. Retrieved from http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=aromatherap&lang=eng#fn_t2b5
Henley, D. V., Lipson, N., Korach, K. S., & Bloch, C. A. (2007). Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. New England Journal of Medicine, 356(5), 479-485.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2020). Aromatherapy. Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/aromatherapy
Sayorwan, W., Siripornpanich, V., Piriyapunyaporn, T., Hongratanaworakit, T., Kotchabhakdi, N., & Ruangrungsi, N. (2012). The effects of lavender oil inhalation on emotional states, autonomic nervous system, and brain electrical activity. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand = Chotmaihet thangphaet, 95(4), 598–606.
Siegfried Kasper, Markus Gastpar, Walter E Müller, Hans-Peter Volz, Hans-Jürgen Möller, Sandra Schläfke, Angelika Dienel, Lavender oil preparation Silexan is effective in generalized anxiety disorder – a randomized, double-blind comparison to placebo and paroxetine, International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, Volume 17, Issue 6, June 2014, Pages 859–869, https://doi.org/10.1017/S1461145714000017
Woelk H, Schläfke S. A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine. 2010 Feb;17(2):94-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.10.006. Epub 2009 Dec 3. PMID: 19962288.