“Scents have a powerful impact on the mind,” says Kathi Keville, aromatherapist and director of the American Herb Association. “They might not be as strong as antidepressant drugs, but the beauty is that they do not have side effects and can be used repeatedly during the day. We have no evidence that there is any conflict to using aromatherapy along with medicine.”
For pain management, aromatherapy can provide pain relief within 10 to 15 minutes after anti-inflammatory essential oils are massaged into an affected area, says Keville. To find a qualified aromatherapist, Keville recommends contacting the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy.
What it’s Best For: Although aromatherapy isn’t an appropriate treatment for every health problem, it can be effective at treating conditions such as mild depression, anxiety, digestive problems, pain and bacterial, fungal and viral infections, says Keville. She suggests considering aromatherapy as a first line treatment for many conditions that are non-threatening.
“Once people start using aromatherapy, they often find that they don’t have to turn to prescription drugs, which may have side effects,” she explains. “And in cases where drugs are needed, aromatherapy can still be used as a complement without interactions, as far as we know.”
The Beauty Connection: As the evidence mounts that stress negatively impacts your looks, tension-taming aromatherapy can also be used a beauty treatment. “The anti-stress essential oils tend to be the ones that are also used for skin care,” says Keville. Many common essential oils are also particularly powerful skin treatments. One reason is because they contain antioxidants, which prevent the signs of aging when applied topically, she adds.
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