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Aromatherapy Science – Does It Really Work

Does Aromatherapy Really Work by Jason Vandijk

Do a quick search on PubMed, and you can find abstracts of over 600 published articles about aromatherapy science in the medical journals. These articles report results of clinical trials and laboratory experiments done by doctors and university-level research scientists at institutions in Japan, the USA, Korea, China, the European Union, and Australia, all subjected to the intense scrutiny of peer review, all designed to answer the question of does aromatherapy really work.

And in 2010, it’s safe to say, aromatherapy really does work. Here are two important findings that explain the astonishing, but credible potency of this ancient healing tool.

1. The way aromatherapy works is through your brain, not through your nose

One of the key findings of aromatherapy science is that aromatherapy works because of what the brain does, not because of what the scent does. Our brains use scent as a way to remember vital experiences.

For instance, most babies are fed formula, and most infant formula contains vanilla. For a huge part of the population, even in adult life the scent of vanilla lets them sleep like a baby.

The downside of this principle is that it can be used in ways to manipulate us to do things that make food companies money but that are not good for our healthy Huge food corporations know how to use aroma to manipulate the human appetite. When certain chemical-based “food” ingredients are added to the food we eat, our brains notice everything about the food to help us find it later.

Suppose as child you are treated to a McDonald’s Happy Meal. The burger bun is a mixture of white flour and high-fructose corn syrup. White flour excites your brain. High-fructose corn syrup overrides the adiponectin hormone that tell your brain you are full and can stop eating.

The French fries, the ketchup, and the ice cream you get later are all packed with this insidious form of sugar-and an ingredient you don’t expect. They are scented with vanilla. Later in life, vanilla can trigger your appetite for happy meals!

But if you happen to know that lemon scent and grapefruit scent cancel out this effect, you can use aromatherapy to help control your appetite. Knowing aromatherapy empowers you to use your nose to help your health, not hurt it. If you know these principles, you can use them to reinforce good habits, not bad.

2. Different scents work in different ways

The fact is, aromatherapists knew this principle a long time before scientists started publishing papers about it. But these findings hold up in scientific testing:

– Lavender relieves pain.
– Lemon increases concentration and recall of verbal information.
– Clover, mint, peppermint (and, oddly enough, tempura batter) smells make it easier to concentrate through loud noise or stormy weather.
– Orange scent is appealing in the morning, but not in the afternoon.
– The odors of “comfort foods” become more appealing when you are mentally active but physically inactive-to kill you appetite for comfort food, just let your mind wander!

Aromatherapy is compatible with science, and aromatherapy really does work. Learning the basics of aromatherapy can open up new avenues of reinforcing healthy habits every day of your life.

Jason Vandijk is a freelance contributor and editor of the Beauty and Fitness information portal which reports on the latest Beauty, Fitness and Relaxation Therapies promoting natural detoxification and healing benefits. To learn more about Aromatherapy Science visit