Sniff Away Stress: Aromatherapy for Stress Management
Aromatherapy can be used in stress management to reduce tension headaches, nervous indigestion, heart palpitations and cortisol production caused by a stressful lifestyle. Stress can cause feelings of exhaustion, apathy and moodiness as it overworks the adrenal system to the point that the adrenal glands are spent. If this sounds like you, or someone you know, take time to learn more about aromatherapy as a simple life-changing stress management tool.
Study on Aromatherapy for Stress Management
The body has an estimated 50 million smell receptors in the limbic system of the brain that affects memory and emotions. These are the areas most affected by chronic stress and adrenal fatigue so it really makes sense to use fragrance to lower stress through the power of smell.
A widely quoted study by the Japanese Department of Oral Physiology in Saitama found that the free radical scavenging activity (FRSA) that fights oxidative stress in the body can be measured by the presence of cortisol in saliva. A study on 22 volunteers allowed them to smell lavender and rosemary essential oils for five minutes. Their saliva was immediately tested for the presence of cortisol, secretory IgA and other stress-induced chemicals.
After the aromatherapy, the participants had decreased levels of cortisol, indicating that lavender and rosemary essential oils decrease stress so the body produces less cortisol. Further experiments using higher concentrations of lavender and rosemary produced correlating evidence as higher concentrations showed to be even more effective at stress management.
Stress-Lowering Properties of Lavender
The fragrant crushed flowers and leaves of the lavender plant have been used in herbal remedies for centuries. Inhaling lavender is a common treatment for stress management, lowering anxiety levels, calming restless nerves and encouraging relaxation. Lavender has been popular in bath and body care for centuries; and scented pillows are often used as a sleep aid.
Stress Management Using Rosemary
Rosemary is most commonly found in the kitchen as an aromatic herb. However, the above study found that rosemary essential oil decreased cortisol in the saliva, suggesting it lowered the brain’s production of cortisol as a response to stress.
Rosemary has many uses as an herbal remedy. Rosemary oil is produced from the flowering top of the plant using steam distillation. It produces clear oil with a light viscosity (thickness.)
Related: Herbs that Help to Increase Energy
Ways to Use Lavender and Rosemary for Effective Stress Management
Apply a few drops of lavender oil to the palms of your hands, rub together and inhale or apply a few drops onto the forehead for instant aromatherapy benefits.
If you prefer rosemary, rub the essential oil on the palms of your hands then cover your nose and mouth and inhale the woodsy aroma. You can also add a drop to the temples to calm a stress-related headache.
Use lavender or rosemary essential oils in a diffuser to fill a room with stress-busting fragrance; burn a fragrant herbal candle or dilute the essential oils 50:50 and apply to chakras and pressure points. Adding 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil to a base massage oil or everyday vegetable oil creates aromatic massage oil. Use it for relaxing shoulder, back and neck massages to soothe tension as part of your aromatherapy stress management.