Aromatherapy scents have been used for generations as an alternative healing method for insomnia, anxiety, headaches, nausea, and more. Popular scents include lavender, bergamot, orange, lemon, eucalyptus, menthol, peppermint and ginger.
From restless sleep to anxiety and depression to nausea, there is a myriad of scents that have healing properties. To help cure what ails you, we’ve put together a list of healing scents and how to use them. You can choose to use essential oils, burn oils or simply incorporate the scent into your daily fragrance routine. Feel free to explore our list of science-backed scents or skip ahead to the handy shareable.
- Clary Sage
Lavender has been long touted as one of the best fragrances for relaxation and sleep. Not only has it been shown to get patients to sleep faster and promote more restful sleep, but it also reduces heart rate.
If you’re having trouble winding down, bergamot can be useful. One study found that women who inhaled bergamot had lower levels of saliva cortisol (the stress hormone). Other studies have linked the scent to positive mood changes as well.
The soothing scent of vanilla is a favorite among perfume-makers, but it can also promote stress relief and relaxation. Vanilla can have sedative effects on the body and can also work to reduce hyperactivity and restlessness.
The scent of orange will give you a jolt of energy, but did you know that it has actually been shown to help with PTSD? A study found that women who were in labor exhibited reduced anxiety after exposure to orange essential oil. While these studies show the effects of orange on very specific situations, they are arguably some of the most anxiety-inducing which suggests the scent would have a positive impact on less stressful situations as well.
The scent of lemon, whether administered through the use of essential oils or the actual fruit, can improve one’s mood. Research has shown that lemon combats the physiological signs of stress as well. It’s safe to say that smelling the scent of lemon may ease depression and anxiety.
When you’re feeling anxious or depressed, worry can play a big part in the tension. In one study, people who smelled lemongrass saw measurable levels of stress and tension reduction. If you’re feeling worried or stressed, a whiff of lemongrass can help put in a more positive state of mind.
Topically chamomile has anti-inflammatory benefits, but the smell of chamomile can be beneficial too. A study on patients experiencing generalized anxiety disorder found that chamomile impacted their mood and improved their symptoms.
If you’ve ever been super stuffed up by a cold or allergies, you know that sniffling and sneezing is no fun. You can combat some of that congestion naturally with the scent of eucalyptus! Studies have shown that the main ingredient in eucalyptus oil, cineole, can help heal the sinuses. It also had milder positive effects on cough, sore throat and infection.
High blood pressure can be a life-threatening condition for many people. While there is no substitution for blood pressure medication in serious cases, clary sage can have a positive impact on symptoms. One study found that women who sniffed the plant’s essential oil had reduced blood pressure and breathing rates.
Camphor is a well-known folk remedy used in the treatment of everything from skin irritations to osteoarthritis. It’s actually FDA approved for topical use to ease pain and can be found in many balms and lotions. The scent of camphor has been shown to ease tension headaches as well!
Menthol has been tested and proven effective in the treatment of migraines. Several studies have been done throughout the years, but one of the more recent studies found menthol reduced headache symptoms, as well as nausea and vomiting (which are often associated with migraines).
Another well-known folk medicine, rosemary has been used throughout time to improve circulation and reduce inflammation. Recent studies have shown, however, that inhaling rosemary oil can reduce headaches, muscle pains, rheumatism and arthritis.
Similar to menthol, peppermint has been used to treat headache symptoms for many years. However, recent studies have actually proven it beneficial for nausea. Pregnant women showed less nausea while sniffing peppermint oil — however, they did not show much difference after they had stopped inhaling. If you want to treat nausea with peppermint oil, it must be continually sniffed.
Ginger has been used since ancient times for its medicinal and antiseptic properties. One of the most common uses is for nausea and vomiting. So if you’re feeling sick, waft some ginger your way and it should ease your pain.
Part of the citrus family, mandarin is known for its ability to ease upset stomachs and restlessness. In fact, doctors have been requesting mandarin as a safe treatment for a number of conditions including nausea.
How to Use Aromatherapy for Healing
There are several ways you can use aromatherapy to heal. The best way to administer the scent depends on what the scent you choose. Some scents are best diffused as essential oils, some are best burned (like incense) and some can be distilled and made into a spray.
If you’re going to use essential oils straight out of the bottle, you will want to hold the bottle level with your heart. Waft the scent a little, bringing it closer to your nose until you can get a good whiff when breathing deeply. Be careful with this method, as some essential oils aren’t safe to sniff directly. You can also rub some oil onto your palms and inhale the scent from your hands.
If you choose to diffuse the scent, you can simply drop a few drops of essential oil inside a diffuser and the whole room will be filled with scent. You can also do a steam bowl inhalation by placing your essential oil into a bowl of steaming water and inhale the steam gently.
If you choose to burn incense, be sure you have an incense holder and never leave the burning incense unattended. If you’d like to make your own spray, you can use a basic recipe made it out of essential oils or more complex recipes to made from natural ingredients.
Another great way you can incorporate these in a more casual way is to choose a perfume or cologne that features the scent. For example, a spritz of Vanilla Fields by Coty on your bedsheets can help ease you to sleep. If you’re wanting to check out more ways aromatherapy can benefit your daily life, you can read our articles about scents that help you sleep and scents to help you be more productive.