Have you ever noticed that certain scents bring back memories? I have. When I smell bayberry, I think of weddings and Christmas. Other odors aren’t quite that pleasant for me. Certain cheeses remind me of a baby spitting up milk. As you can guess, I don’t eat them.
Aromatherapy isn’t just about association. There is some science behind it. The olfactory nerve is hardwired to the brain. It’s also the shortest nerve in the body. It stands to reason that scent would have an affect on the brain.
It seems to work: Our elder gets very agitated from time to time. While she is on medication for it, there are times when we have to wait to give it to her. Part of my studies as a master herbalist were on the subject of aromatherapy. I got some aromatherapy oils meant to be soothing and used them. She calmed down enough to last until it was time for her medication. As she didn’t even know what was happening, I’d say it was somewhat convincing.
Expense: Some aromatherapy oils are expensive, but not all of them are. I had three choices of oils for the above problem. One was over $20, but the two others were around $8. As we only needed a few drops of each, they were well worth the price. If you want to achieve a certain mood, see if there are choices that will help you find an affordable mixture.
Allergies: If you are allergic to flowers or other plant parts used to make the essential oil, you will probably be allergic to that oil. It’s a good idea to find out before you have the reaction if at all possible.
Peppermint: This oil is very useful if you want to be able to concentrate, but it is dangerous to children under the age of two. There are other essential oils with similar problems.
Jasmine: This isn’t exactly a con if you can keep bees out of your house. One of the oils I chose for our elder was jasmine essential oil. By the time we figured out why (and where) all the bees were coming into the house, there were eleven of them. I am severely allergic to bee stings, so this is not an oil I’m likely to use wherever bees might be handy.
Truth told, aromatherapy is like several other branches of alternative medicine. It hasn’t been thoroughly researched, so no one can point to a study and say, “see, it does/doesn’t work.” It’s also going to depend on how you think. Even traditional medicine can’t always work if the patient doesn’t believe it will. It takes an open mind and a willingness to experiment.
For your own safety, I do recommend you consult a qualified aromatherapist. Many of the “cons” can be prevented by someone who is educated on how to use these essential oils. As with any form of medication, self diagnosis and self medicating aren’t a good idea.