Creighton University Medical Center School of Medicine is out to determine if alternative therapies actually work. Aromatherapy has long been recognized for the treatment of minor ailments as well as the promotion of emotional stability. But how does it actually work? The Medical Center reports that while there is widespread use, there is still not much scientific evidence to support claims of the ability to treat these ailments.

What studies have been done? The school has tested the lavender, chamomile, marigold and peppermint essential oils in several studies to see if there was a reduction in the perception of pain. Placebo tests were also performed in these studies as well. The results showed that there positive effects through the use of the essential oils although they were not conclusive. Does that mean that essential oils do not work? Absolutely not! What the studies do show is that there are positive physiological effects when aromatherapy was used as a complementary form of treatment.

The use of aromatherapy is rooted in our history with its use dating back some one thousand years. The Egyptians used essential oils for embalming the dead, but they also used them as medicines, for perfumes and as cosmetics. Throughout the centuries following the use of essential oils in medical treatments were refined through the use of improved distillation equipment and additional studies of plants. While the term “aromatherapy” is new, the practice of using essential oils as medicines is not.

We do know that aromatherapy combines uses the sense of smell to regulate emotional behaviors. We know that certain essential oils are known to induce feelings of peace, harmony, reduce stress, anger or fatigue as well as other emotional facets. Essential oils can also reduce anxiety or feelings of loneliness. There is an essential oil that can aid in the treatment of just about every negative emotion and enhance the positive ones as well. But how it all works has still not been proven.

We also know that essential oils used as a topical treatment have been known to exhibit anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic responses. Topical treatments are normally diluted mixes of essential oils with carrier oils such as apricot kernel oil or almond sweet oil. Essential oils have been used in the treatment of acne, athlete’s foot, eczema and other skin ailments. Essential oils have also been noted to reduce scarring tissue and stretch marks. Citrus oils have also been used to treat insect bites as well as act as insect repellant. There are so many uses!

While there still might be little evidence to support or validate the scientific processes of healing or emotional balance that take place within the body, we are still seeing positive responses! We are still seeing and experiencing the benefits of what aromatherapy can do when we add this to our regimen. Whether or not the use of essential oils is right for you, only you can decide. Take some time to consult with your doctor or aroma therapist and see how you can add nature’s benefits to your life!