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Does Aromatherapy Really Work?

Aromatherapy uses essential oils from plants and a diffuser to improve well-being. But is there any evidence it’s really doing anything?

It’s a given that odors have powerful effects on humans, but what about how they affect us? Can aromatherapy really help us feel physically, emotionally, or spiritually better? There have been some scientific studies completed in this area, and here’s what the results are telling us.


But first, in case you’re not quite sure

what Aromatherapy means in the first

place, here’s a quick guide:

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What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is based on ancient practices that use natural plant extracts (the “oils”) to improve all areas of well-being: mind, body, and spirit. Fruit, flowers, bark, and roots from all kinds of plants are distilled, then cold-pressed in the making of essential oils.

The oils are then used topically, consumed in the diet, or diffused aromatically in a home diffuser like the Stadler Form Lea. It’s this last method, using a diffuser, that defines the way aromatherapy works in the home. The scent of the oils can trigger emotions and memories, and, as you’re about to find out, may even have a positive physiological effect on the brain.

The Rosemary Oil Study

People use rosemary essential oil (Rosmarinus officinalis CT 1,8 Cineol) for digestion, respiratory function, and fatigue. They also claim to derive emotional benefits, such as mental clarity.

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Researchers in the U.K., from Northumbria University, decided to test those claims and performed a small study using rosemary oil and 20 subjects.

The rosemary oil was dabbed on an absorbent pad, where it diffused throughout an office space where the subjects were seated (a diffuser would have worked, too). The subjects were then given 3 computerized tasks, plus they filled out a questionnaire.

The results? The more exposure the subjects had to the rosemary oil, the better they performed on the tasks. It’s not clear whether that was because the oil improved their math abilities or their memory.

The subjects also seemed to feel a mood effect: with more oil exposure came a reported decrease in contentment! That may also have a positive effect on alertness.

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There haven’t been very many aromatherapy studies performed on humans yet, but this Northumbria University research is a good beginning. Even if we’re not yet sure your math abilities will improve, we do know that essential oils placed in a diffuser for whole-home coverage are a wonderful way to add joy, peace, balance, and energy to your life.