Want to wind down for a bit of self-care after a busy week? There's nothing better than curling up in bed with a good book, or in a bath, with scented candles or one of the best diffusers for essential oils. Oils are often viewed as a pseudoscience, and there's certainly far too many benefits attached to them in some quarters. However, used the right way, aromatherapy can help in many aspects of our lives.
The journal Scientia Pharmaceutica collected a series of studies testing the mettle of aromatherapy, suggesting "a significant role for olfactory stimulation in the alteration of cognition, mood, and social behavior". While essential oils are not currently believed by the scientific community to cure serious diseases, relieve pain or boost your libido, they can boost your mood and alter the way you think.
In the video below, our trainer of the year Emma Goodman-Horne has a conversation with wellness brand Ela Life founder Anna Schmit on the best ways to use essential oils to induce positive moods.
Watch the video here:
Why use essential oils and aromatherapy?
Schmidt says: "When you inhale, it goes up into your nervous system and limbic system, the emotional 'heart' of your body, and they benefit you emotionally and in so many other ways... I love that every plant and every botanical has a different benefit to you".
Schmidt says part of this reaction is related to the memory you're associating with scents. For example, dropping lavender into a bubble bath will cause you to associate the scent of lavender with physical relaxation, helping it to lull you into a state of relaxation in the future.
There is science backing up several popular aromatherapy health claims. Lavender, for example, has long been used as a sleep aid. Studies published by researchers in Germany found lavender improved symptoms associated with anxiety, such as restlessness and disturbed sleep, while a separate study was able to lure mice to sleep much more quickly with lavender scents.
Peppermint oil can reduce feelings of nausea, according to Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, making it a common staple in lots of households. Like mint tea, mint oil has also been used to aid digestion and reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Other studies suggest a variety of other benefits, such as improved athletic performance and blood circulation, but nothing has been proven yet.
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Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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