Aromatherapy Benefits and Uses: Adrenal Fatigue and Beyond
Aromatherapy benefits aren’t limited to making your home a more relaxing atmosphere with pleasant scents. Aromatherapy is a healing modality that has many complimentary health benefits for different conditions. This article covers some of the health benefits of aromatherapy as well as its uses for specific conditions.
Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils and other aromatic materials, usually derived from plants, with the aim of improving well-being and aiding symptoms by inhaling scents and absorbing particles in them through your lungs and sinuses.
The different types of materials used in aromatherapy include:
- Essential oils – derived from plants, usually through distillation or solvent expression
- Herbal hydrosols – liquid byproducts of the distillation process, such as rosewater
- Infusions – aqueous products extracted from plants
- Base oil – oils used to dilute essential oils
- Absolutes – oils extracted from flowers and other delicate plant material using solvents
There are also several different methods for using aromatherapy. Aromatherapy benefits can be experienced with these different methods of use:
- A diffuser evaporates diluted oil into the atmosphere.
- A vaporizer allows users to directly inhale oil vapors.
- Diluted essential oils can also be applied to the skin, sometimes mixing several.
How Aromatherapy Works
Scent is known to be among the most powerful memory triggers. This physiological and psychological response is used in aromatherapy.
In the body, memory centers, sensory perceptions, and other processes interpret the signals from the receptors in the nose. The limbic system evaluates the olfactory sensory stimuli coming in, and then it assesses what they correlate to. For example, it decides whether the scent indicates danger, pleasure, or a mating opportunity.
These processes then prompt the release of certain chemicals or neurotransmitters.
These reactions in the brain, and the chemicals that are secreted because of them, bring about changes to mood and physiology that can include pain relief, amelioration of symptoms, better appetite, more energy and joy, and many others. That is where the health benefits of aromatherapy stem from.
Because each person can react differently to different scents, aromatherapy is highly personalized, and it’s recommended that you try out different scents and scent combinations to find what works best for you. However, knowing some basic ideas and common uses can start you off on the right foot.
When trying a new aromatherapy oil, be sure to read the use instructions on the package, and make sure that you are not allergic to the product before use.
Benefits of Aromatherapy for AFS and NEM Stress Response
As part of a health plan for Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and the overall NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response, you can choose to incorporate aromatherapy to help with certain symptoms.
AFS is a condition that has wide-reaching effects on health and well-being. Its symptoms include fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, lack of focus, memory loss, low libido, severe PMS, infertility, mild depression and others. AFS arises when the adrenal glands are no longer able to handle a continual high-level of stress.
The NEM Stress Response includes not only the adrenal glands, which are the main organs affected by AFS, but many other systems and organs as well. The NEM system is the body’s method of dealing with stress as a whole. NEM organs and systems affected by chronic stress include the liver, heart, gastrointestinal tract, immune system, thyroid, pancreas and others. Overuse due to chronic stress and exhaustion of the NEM can cause symptoms including chemical sensitivities, cravings, heart palpitations, emotional swings, frequent infections, inflammatory bowel disease, dizziness, and irregular blood pressure.
These conditions need proper medical guidance that includes the amelioration of symptoms and addressing the root causes, particularly chronic stress.
Below are some of the most relevant health benefits of aromatherapy for the chronically tired, those with adrenal fatigue, and those with adrenal exhaustion.
Aromatherapy Benefits for Sleep
Those suffering from adrenal fatigue often experience sleep difficulties such as insomnia, waking in the middle of the night and being unable to fall back asleep, difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, and generally unsatisfying sleep.
Sleep deficiency in general can trigger many other issues such as irritability, brain fog, tiredness, difficulty focusing on tasks, and difficulty functioning day-to-day.
These aromatherapy essential oils can help improve sleep.
Lavender is possibly the most well-studied and popular of them all. It helps relax the body and mind, lower blood pressure and body temperature, and calm anxiety and stress. It can be used with a diffuser or can be applied directly to skin.
Chamomile tea is known as an herbal remedy for sleep problems, and Roman chamomile aromatherapy has similar effects. Its calming and relaxing properties can help you fall asleep easier.
Ylang ylang is a floral essential oil that has a sedative effect, lowering stress and helping the body and mind relax. It can also help with emotional and mood issues such as anger and depression.
Other aromatherapy oils to try for better sleep include:
Aromatherapy Benefits for Stress and Depression
All the aromatherapy oils that can be used for sleep can also be used to help calm stress and depression. Some, however, are especially helpful for these issues.
Bergamot oil is stimulating and can energize and improve blood circulation. Triggering feelings of vitality, uplifted mood, and joy, bergamot works well against depression, stress, and anxiety. Mixing this oil with lavender and frankincense, for example, can be a great natural addition to a depression-recovery toolbox. It can also be blended with lavender and ylang ylang to reduce stress.
Clary sage is another good choice. It helps clear the mind of dark moods and has an uplifting effect. A bath with a few drops of clary sage and ylang ylang can give you a good night’s sleep, as well as lift your mood. Please note, clary sage can mimic cortisol and should be used with caution in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue.
Other helpful essential oils for stress and depression relief include:
- Sweet orange
Aromatherapy Benefits for Fatigue
The main symptom of adrenal fatigue is tiredness. The lack of energy and constant fatigue affect every facet of daily life, from productivity, to creativity, to the ability to lead an active life. Coupled with brain fog and difficulty sleeping, this triad can really take the joy out of life for someone with AFS.
Some aromatherapy benefits can improve energy levels and make you feel more awake. Here are some of the top recommendations of aromatherapy oils for this issue:
- Eucalyptus helps with concentration and mental stimulation
- Peppermint is refreshing and energizing
- Rosemary helps with memory and clears the mind
- Basil helps with concentration and sharpens the senses
Using the oils mentioned for sleep problems can also help with fatigue and improve energy levels, as you will begin to have better sleep. Fatigue is directly affected by the quality of sleep. Depression and stress also zap energy, and as you start to find relief for these issues, your energy levels will begin to buoy.
However, it must be stressed, with adrenal fatigue, it’s important to use aromatherapy in conjunction with a holistic health plan to deal with the core issues of AFS. Aromatherapy can only be complementary to an overall plan for rebalancing the body.
Other Aromatherapy Benefits & Common Uses
Some people make aromatherapy part of their daily health and wellness routines. As you discover which oils work best for you, you can begin making your own collection of aromatherapy oils and formulas.
Some oils are useful for many different issues.
Peppermint, for example, is great for nausea, fatigue and headaches. Nausea and indigestion, including that from morning sickness, motion sickness, or digestive issues, can be relieved through aromatherapy. Add a drop of peppermint essential oil to a bowl of boiling water and inhale the steam, or you can add a drop of oil to a cloth and smell it.
Ginger aromatherapy is another good choice, as ginger itself is one of the most helpful remedies for nausea and digestive issues.
These are some other oils that aid with nausea and indigestion:
- Roman chamomile
- Star Anise
- Black pepper
Pregnant women should be careful not to apply aromatherapy oil directly to the skin and to always check with a doctor before using any medicinal herbs and oils.
Here are some other symptoms and aromatherapy oils that can help:
- For headaches, try cinnamon, ginger, thyme, clary sage, lemon grass and lavender.
- To clear your sinuses, try cedarwood, cypress, eucalyptus, juniper, tea tress and angelica.
- For menstrual cramps, use caraway, rosemary, sage, rose, and basil.
- For sore muscles, try verbena, myrtle, caraway, rosemary and patchouli.
The options are numerous. There are so many benefits of aromatherapy, and all it takes is just a few essential oils to start with and some experimentation to find what makes you feel the best.
However, always make sure to get the green light from your doctor before incorporating any new natural medicine or complementary remedies into your holistic health plan, and be sure to buy only high quality oils from established vendors.
© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.