10 reasons to try aromatherapy

Essential oils and aromatherapy continue to grow in popularity and, although it is most commonly used for relaxation purposes, aromatherapy has a range of other health benefits too. People also turn to aromatherapy to ease symptoms of anxiety, regulate sleep, and for many other reasons; essential oils are believed to promote wellness and happiness.


The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy has defined aromatherapy as “the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.” The therapy uses essential oils taken from flowers, herbs, bark, and seeds.

While there is little evidence to support its effectiveness in preventing and treating illnesses, various clinical studies have revealed aromatherapy to be an effective complementary therapy method for promoting well-being.

What are some of the benefits of aromatherapy?

1. It can relieve stress

Aromatherapy is incredibly powerful and the right scents can help the body and mind relax and de-stress. One study revealed that those using aromatherapy felt less pain and had lower stress levels than those who weren’t using aromatherapy during a stressful situation.

Lavender scents, in particular, have been shown to reduce stress levels. Essential oils such as ylang-ylang and jasmine are believed to be effective in relieving stress, while basil and rosemary are thought to promote mental clarity. 

Using oils within an aromatherapy massage is a great way to help relieve stress. Or, after a stressful day, try tapping essential oils along the back of your neck. This will help to bring your body into alignment and refocus your mind.

2. It can help fight fatigue

While aromatherapy is well known for inducing relaxation, it can also lift your energy levels and help you feel alert. Try citrus and menthol scents to help perk you up.

New to aromatherapy? Read our beginner’s guide, for a step-by-step approach.

3. It can help you sleep

People with insomnia are often encouraged to try aromatherapy. Relaxing scents can form part of a wind-down routine to help prepare both body and mind for a restful sleep. Try burning a relaxing scent or incorporating essential oils in your evening bath.

For a better night’s sleep, place a couple of drops of lavender, clary sage or lemongrass on a tissue. Move the tissue under your nose, passing it back and forth. This motion will allow you to experience the aroma and its benefits to the fullest. You should feel relaxed, calm and ready for rest.

4. It can reduce anxiety

As stress and anxiety are commonly linked, aromatherapy can also help reduce feelings of anxiety. One way you can use essential oils to help anxiety is to incorporate an oil burner or scented candle into your mindfulness practice/meditation.

Focusing on the present moment has been known to help anxiety and an easy way to ground yourself in the ‘now’ is to focus on your senses, what you can smell for example.

According to Cancer Research UK, many people with cancer turn to aromatherapy to complement conventional treatment. It appears to make patients feel happier and more able to cope with the changes happening and may help to reduce pain and anxiety in the short term.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also suggests that aromatherapy may help treat feelings of agitation in those with dementia. It can support well-being, reduce stress and encourage relaxation.

5. It can ease symptoms of colds and flu

Menthol and eucalyptus oils can help clear blocked airways when inhaled, helping to ease congestion and improve symptoms of cold and flu. Try adding a few drops to a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam.

6. It can help manage pain

Chronic pain treatment is often multi-pronged and will be managed by a medical team. Aromatherapy can often be used alongside this treatment to help reduce associated anxiety and even help to relax muscles.

Clary sage is a well-known aroma that helps reduce feelings of pain. This natural scent is best known for its success in relieving menstrual pains.

7. It can help with tension headaches

Scents such as peppermint, clary sage and lavender are known for helping to reduce pain. Aromatherapy massages, in particular, can be very helpful for those with tension headaches as it helps remove tension in the back and shoulders that contributes to these headaches.

If you are suffering from a headache, try blending a mixture of lavender, chamomile and peppermint essential oils and apply them to your temples.

8. It can boost your mood

Fresh citrus scents are known for their uplifting effect, reducing the symptoms of mild depression. Ideal for those needing an energy boost, orange and lemon scents will perk you up. For all-day benefits, apply essential oils to your wrists or hands. Oils that regulate body temperatures (clove or ginger to warm, or mint or lavender to cool) are best applied to the underside of your wrist.

You can also massage oils between your thumb and finger. This way you will get the benefits of the scent all day as your hands move around your face.

9. It is a natural treatment with little to no side-effects

Essential oils are natural and completely safe when used correctly with no side effects.

If you want to give aromatherapy a go, there are different ways you can experience it: massage, inhalation, or adding a few drops of oil in a warm bubble bath.

For advice on using aromatherapy at home, we recommend consulting an aromatherapist.

10. It can help you open your mind

If you are feeling uninspired, try placing rose, frankincense, rose or sandalwood on the crown of your head. A drop of these essential oils on the crown of your head is thought to provide inspiration and transform an experience.

This article was updated on 01/02/23


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Written by Kat Nicholls
Kat is a Content Producer for Memiah and writer for Therapy Directory and Happiful magazine.
Written by Kat Nicholls
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