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Insomnia and Aromatherapy (Therapy)

Written by sshowalter, FoundHealth.

Aromatherapy involves the use of oils extracted from various parts of aromatic plants and trees. The principles and practices behind aromatherapy can be traced back to the ancient civilizations of mankind

Lavender and ylang-ylang are among the common essential oils for aromatherapy. Although research has not yet proven the effectiveness of aromatherapy, a scent that you find pleasant can induce relaxation and can be a cue for sleep.

Effect of Aromatherapy (Therapy) on Insomnia

Certain scents from herbs are thought to affect the body and relieve symptoms of a wide range of illnesses including insomnia and other stress-related symptoms.

Read more details about Aromatherapy (Therapy).

Research Evidence on Aromatherapy (Therapy)

Small studies have shown that lavender aromatherapy decreased the agitated behavior of patients with severe dementia in nursing homes. Further studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.

How to Use Aromatherapy (Therapy)

Insomnia and Aromatherapy

Lavender is calming and soothing to nerves. It has many therapeutic properties, that may help to relieve the symptoms of depression. Lavender also lowers blood pressure. Lavender oil can be applied topically to relax the muscles. Its aroma alone can promote relaxation.

Because of its calming properties, lavender may improve the quality of sleep and make people feel refreshed. You can add lavender to bathwater, disperse in a vaporizer or dab on a piece of cloth or tissue and breathe in.

Insomnia and Ylang-Ylang

The sweet, exotic smell of ylang ylang has a calming effect on the mind and body. Ylang ylang oil has many medicinal uses. It may benefit patients suffering from depression, high blood pressure and insomnia.

Vapor therapy using ylang-ylang can relieve anxiety, tension, shock, panic, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, physical exhaustion, insomnia, depression and stress. Ylang-ylang can also be blended with massage oil or diluted in the bath.

Safety Issues

Essential oils can be toxic when taken internally, producing unpleasant and even fatal effects. Toxicity studies have not been performed for many essential oil products, and maximum safe dosages remain unknown. 1 Infants, children, seniors, and people with severe illnesses should not use essential oils internally except under the supervision of a physician; healthy adults should only use well established products (such as peppermint oil) for which safe dosages have been determined.

Inhaled or topical use of essential oils is much safer than oral use. However, allergic reactions to inhaled or topical plant fragrances are not uncommon. 2 Furthermore, when applied to the skin, some essential oils might also promote sunburning (photosensitization), raise the risk of skin cancer, or be absorbed sufficiently to cause toxic effects. 3 In addition, one report suggests that a combination of lavender oil and tea tree oil applied topically caused gynecomastia (breast enlargement) in three young boys. 4

References

  1. Lis-Balchin M. Possible health and safety problems in the use of novel plant essential oils and extracts in aromatherapy. J R Soc Health. 1999 Dec;119:240-243.
  2. Weiss RR, James WD. Allergic contact dermatitis from aromatherapy. Am J Contact Dermat. 8(4):250-1.
  3. Stevensen CJ. Aromatherapy in dermatology. Clin Dermatol. 16(6):689-94.
  4. Henley DV, Lipson N, Korach KS, Bloch CA. Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. N Engl J Med. 356(5):479-85.
  5. Lis-Balchin M. Possible health and safety problems in the use of novel plant essential oils and extracts in aromatherapy. J R Soc Health. 1999 Dec;119:240-243.
  6. Weiss RR, James WD. Allergic contact dermatitis from aromatherapy. Am J Contact Dermat. 8(4):250-1.
  7. Stevensen CJ. Aromatherapy in dermatology. Clin Dermatol. 16(6):689-94.
  8. Henley DV, Lipson N, Korach KS, Bloch CA. Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. N Engl J Med. 356(5):479-85.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16520572

Balch, P. Prescription for herbal healing. Penguin. 2002

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