Aromatherapy is a natural depression remedy that uses essential oils for the purpose of affecting a person’s mood or health. Essential oils are a concentrated liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from aromatic herbs or plants. The oils can also be diffused into the air in heated water or a mechanical device. Each oil is thought to have a specific pharmacological effect that occurs after transdermal resorption.
The use of essential oils for therapeutic, spiritual, hygienic and ritualistic purposes goes back to a number of ancient civilizations including the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
Aromatherapists, who specialize in the practice of aromatherapy, utilize blends of therapeutic essential oils through inhalation, bathing, or in a topical application. Essential oils can be anti-depressant, sedative, tranquilizing, and release endorphins.
Research on Aromatherapy for Depression
A number of studies have successfully used aromatherapy for improving mood. In one study, 20 depressed men on antidepressants were divided into two groups; 1) Twelve were exposed to citrus fragrance in the air, and 2) Eight received placebo. The aromatherapy group was able to substantially reduce their antidepressant dosage.
Aromatherapy can be been particularly helpful when combined with massage therapy. In a study of 72 children and adolescents with adjustment disorder and depression, participants received either a 30-minute back massage daily for 5 days or watched a relaxing video for the same period. Depression scores were significantly lower in the massage group.
A comprehensive study of massage with depressed patients determined that the benefits of massage with depression was due to a physiological response in the body. According to the study, the anti-depressant effect appeared to related to slowing physiology and inducing relation by decreasing stress hormones, most particularly cortisol.
Aromatherapy-massage is an effective intervention for postpartum mothers to improve physical and mental status and to facilitate mother-infant interaction. A study at the University of Tokyo took 36 healthy postpartum mothers, and gave half aromatherapy-massage, while the other half received standard postpartum care. Results indicated that the aromatherapy-massage group had significantly decreased depression and anxiety scores when measured by three psychological tests. It was concluded that aromatherapy-massage was an effective intervention for depression in postpartum mothers.
There are many essential oils associated with anti-depressant properties include ylang ylang, geranium, jasmine, orange, sandalwood, lemon, lemon verbena, and mandarin. For some people having difficulty sleeping due to depression, lavender, sweet marjoram, chamomile, neroli, clary sage, sandalwood, bergamot, and frankincense have been helpful.
Choose Essential Oils in Aromatherapy
To be the most effective, the essential oils used for aromatherapy must be pure. Synthetic, adulterated and poor quality oils, while less expensive, typically do not provide the desired effects and may even cause an adverse reaction. To insure quality, choose essential oils that are guaranteed to be organic or ethically wild crafted, properly distilled or extracted, and originating from a reliable source. Additionally, it is important that the oils are species specific, meaning that they are associated with or limited to one species only.
In a similar manner as herbal medicine, aromatherapy incorporates the use of powerful plant-based products. Because of this, there is always a potential for adverse reactions. For example, certain essential oils are not recommended for use during pregnancy, may be skin irritants or allergic reactions.
If you would like to learn more about how aromatherapy works with traditional psychotherapy in the treatment of depression and other mental health concerns, please call me office for an appointment.