Aromatherapy: does it work? See the benefits and who can do it

Some age-old health care and well-being practices continue to this day – this is the case with Aromatherapy. A practice carried out for thousands of years in order to take care of the physical and psychic balance.

It has the sense of smell as the main channel, so that the aromas enable action on the nervous system, providing relief from symptoms such as stress and fatigue .

Following, you can better understand about this practice and how it works:


What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is recognized by the Ministry of Health as an integrative and complementary practice. Therefore, it can be used as a natural treatment in a unique way in some cases and, in others, in association with traditional medicine.

This therapy can be indicated to treat issues such as headaches and muscle, sinusitis , migraine and insomnia . Besides acting in the relief of symptoms of depression and anxiety .

This is possible due to the action of essential oils in the brain, stimulating the limbic system in regulating positive emotions and helping in certain behaviors.

This practice has no restrictions, so it can be used by both adults and children. However, people with health problems, children and pregnant women need medical authorization to use aromatherapy.

In addition, it is necessary to respect the form of use of the oils and the quantity, in order to guarantee their effectiveness and safety, without causing damage to the health of those who use them.

Basically, the most common way to practice aromatherapy is by inhaling essential oils at home. However, it is also possible to seek professionals specialized in the technique, especially in the case of those who wish to treat specific conditions.

In such cases, the help of a therapist specialized in the practice of aromatherapy will certainly be of great help. This, since there are hundreds of essential oils and it can be difficult to do a self-analysis to understand your problems and then choose the ideal oil.

How does aromatherapy work?

Aromatherapy is a technique that is based on the use of essential oils (extracted from plants) and focuses on aroma (smell / perfume). Therefore, it is neither necessary nor recommended to ingest any product.

Therefore, aromatherapy can be done in the following ways:

  • Inhalation – in this case, you can deposit 2 or 3 drops of the oil on a cotton wool or inhale directly from the bottle (3 seconds), the ideal is to repeat throughout the day;
  • Flavoring – for this technique, a diffuser / flavorer is used. Just drip 2 or 3 drops of the chosen essential oil and let the appliance release the aroma;
  • Nebulization – this technique is commonly used for cases of respiratory problems, in order to increase the humidity of the environment. However, in the case of aromatherapy, it is recommended to use 2 to 3 drops of essential oil in the nebulizer or to drip into a bucket with boiling water. In both cases, aromatized vapor must be inhaled;
  • Massage – the essential oil should not be applied pure to the skin, therefore, you should mix 2 or 3 drops in another vegetable oil (such as coconut or grape seed oil). Then, just massage the desired areas and enjoy the aroma;
  • Compress – in this case, it is recommended to fill a bucket with boiling water and add 10 drops of essential oil. Then, just moisten a towel well in the water and perform the compress, repeating the process a few times.

When these techniques are carried out, the aroma of the essential oil in contact with the organism causes its action to stimulate the limbic system . This unit is located in the brain and is responsible for controlling emotions and social behaviors.

This allows aromatherapy to be indicated as complementary and / or alternative therapy for cases of problems such as anxiety, insomnia, depression and many others. Below, find out more about the indications and which essential oils can be used in each case:

What is it for?

The function of aromatherapy will vary depending on the essential oil being used to perform the procedure. In this sense, each oil can stimulate different reactions in the body, in order to impact physical and mental well-being.

Therefore, aromatherapy can be useful to help with issues such as the following:

  • PMS symptoms;
  • Concentration problems;
  • Insomnia;
  • Low libido (sexual desire);
  • Allergic crises;
  • Flu symptoms;
  • Low pressure.

In the sequence, you can see some more of the problems in which aromatherapy can be indicated as a single or complementary treatment. In addition, see also what are the essential oils used in each case:


Unfortunately, stress is part of everyone’s daily life. Some suffer more intensely from this problem, while others manage to have greater control.

However, when excessive stress becomes routine, it can cause serious damage to physical and emotional health: excessive anxiety, continuous tiredness , headaches, gastritis , overweight, low immunity, diarrhea , hypertension, among other complications.

In some situations, medical follow-up is needed to address this issue. However, for sporadic cases or prevention of stress symptoms, one can use techniques such as aromatherapy.

In that case, there are many essential oils that can be indicated for use, such as:

  • Chamomile – its therapeutic and medicinal properties provide, among others, the sedative and relaxing action. So that it can be used for anxiety, depression and irritability;
  • Cypress – has properties that act to restore nerves, in addition to sedative action in cases of irritability and nervousness;
  • Geranium – is very suitable for relieving nervous tension, since it can stimulate the adrenal cortex, a gland that produces the hormones responsible (among other functions) for the sensation of stress.

To sleep

Many people suffer from difficulties at bedtime, both chronically and in cases of insomnia , as well as in isolation – that is, when on a specific day it is not possible to sleep properly.

This problem may be linked to factors such as high stress loads, anxiety, daily concerns, exacerbated exposure to electronic devices, hyperactivity, etc.

Among the cares and treatments that can help in this aspect, is the practice of aromatherapy. In this case, the indication is that the use of lavender essential oil should be used .

This oil provides a calming effect, helping to control factors that can trigger insomnia (such as anxiety and stress). In addition, it also helps to keep your blood pressure down and your heart rate slower, which helps you sleep.


Migraine is a chronic disease, which means it has no cure. It is characterized by an intense headache that can affect the person frequently or sporadically.

This problem commonly also causes nausea and sensitivity to light and / or sounds.

Among the factors that can trigger migraine, we can mention: hormonal changes, some foods and drinks, stress, anxiety and even high intensity physical exercises.

Treatment can be done with medications and rely on the help of alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, massages (such as Shiatsu), use of remedies and practices such as aromatherapy. In this case, one can make use of the essential oil of rosemary and / or eucalyptus .


Depression is a disease that affects thousands of people. The most common symptoms of this condition include fatigue, despondency, feelings of guilt, insomnia, restlessness and loss of interest in activities (or things) that were once pleasurable.

The treatment must be done in conjunction with specialized professionals and commonly involves the use of medications, in order to ensure effective patient care.

However, together, alternative therapies can be carried out, in order to complement the traditional methods. In this context, the practice of aromatherapy fits.

As in other circumstances, this practice will not cure the person with the problem in question, but will help to relieve symptoms. Therefore, in the case of depression, the use of the following essential oils is indicated:

  • Lavender – considering the calming action of lavender, the use of this essential oil can help against insomnia and also to regulate mood positively;
  • Bergamot – in general, it is recommended to use it in conjunction with the lavender essential oil, in order to enhance the actions related to the reduction of blood pressure and increase of the sensation of relaxation;
  • Sálvia Esclaréia – when using this oil for aromatherapy, the action takes place in the brain, in a way that intensifies the action of dopamine (hormone that regulates the sensation of pleasure and mood);
  • Geranium – the properties of this essential oil help you get a good sleep, control your mood and enhance positive emotions. In addition, it can help against hormonal imbalances and anxiety, factors that can trigger depression.

Considering the seriousness of depression, it is necessary to emphasize that alternative therapies do not replace traditional methods. Also, always choose to be accompanied by a professional to choose the ideal essential oil for your case.


Sinusitis is a condition in which inflammation of the cavities around the nasal passages occurs, and may (or may not) be triggered due to colds or allergies. The most common symptoms include headache, face pain, discharge and nasal congestion.

In general, there is no specific treatment for this problem. Care is aimed at treating the symptoms that sinusitis triggers, so that they usually include the use of anti-inflammatory and / or anti-flu drugs.

However, an increasing number of people are looking for natural alternatives to alleviate the complications caused by this inflammation. This includes the practice of aromatherapy.

In this case, the use of peppermint essential oil is highly recommended , which, among other functions, provides analgesic and anti-inflammatory action. In addition to helping as a natural decongestant, thus, alleviating the symptoms of sinusitis.


In general, the use of aromatherapy can be indicated for the relief of muscle pain, tension, headaches and even rheumatic problems (inflammation in joints, muscles and bones).

Therefore, in this case, the essential oil to be used will vary depending on the problem in question and what is causing it. Next, check out some of these oils and what is the indication of each:

  • Rosemary – headache, migraine, muscle pain and joint pain;
  • Lavender – headache, especially if caused by factors such as stress, insomnia or anxiety;
  • Eucalyptus – headache, migraine, muscle pain and muscle tension;
  • Peppermint – muscle aches, muscle tension, stiff neck, headache and mild migraine (or soon after the onset of pain).

It should be noted that, in some cases, aromatherapy alone may not be enough, considering that the pain symptom may be linked to other conditions. And these may lack other treatments.

Lose weight

It must be made clear that the practice of aromatherapy does not help people to lose weight faster, but it aims to help control the habits and emotions that hinder the weight loss process.

In this sense, orange and lavender essential oils , for example , can be indicated .

When used before meals, they help to control binge eating. In other words, the person tends to eat just enough to satisfy his appetite, and not to eat only by will or “gluttony”.

In addition, there are also some essential oils that act to speed up the functioning of the metabolism. As an example, one can mention peppermint and cinnamon .

But it is worth remembering that there is no secret or miraculous techniques to lose weight faster. The important thing is to have the help of a professional who will direct the methods according to your circumstances.

This way, you guarantee that you will reach your goal and do it without harming your health.

Does aromatherapy alleviate anxiety?

-Yeah . Anxiety can affect people at different levels, that is, at the same time that some suffer to a high degree, others feel its consequences sporadically and not so often.

The main symptoms of this disorder are: intense, excessive and persistent worry, in addition to fear or fear of everyday situations. In more severe cases, there may also be an increase in heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating and feeling tired.

In cases where there are major complications due to anxiety, continuous drug treatments are necessary in conjunction with professional assistance.

However, in these circumstances, alternative therapies such as aromatherapy can act in a complementary way. In milder and sporadic cases of anxiety, these techniques alone are often enough to relieve symptoms.

Thus, the essential oils that can be indicated for anxiety are: lavender , chamomile , bergamot , lemon , orange , lemongrass and sage . These work by providing relaxation, relief from worries and stress.

Does aromatherapy use essential oils?

-Yeah . The basis of aromatherapy is the use of essential oils, there are many options with the most diverse indications (sinusitis, muscle pain, migraine, depression, etc.).

Regarding how to use these oils, it can be done in 5 ways: inhalation, aromatization (with the help of a diffuser or aromatizer), nebulization, massage and compresses.

In general, all forms are effective. However, to choose the ideal essential oil for your case, it is always recommended to seek the help of a professional specialized in this therapy.

With this, it will be possible for you to make a correct choice for your needs and receive guidance on the correct and safe way to use the oils – especially due to the fact that they are super concentrated and powerful, needing caution.

Who can do it? Is there a contraindication?

Aromatherapy is a type of totally natural treatment, so it is based on the use of essential oils extracted from plants. However, this does not mean that care is not necessary.

In general, everyone can benefit from this technique. But some oils should not be used by pregnant women and people with high blood pressure – such as camphor or rosemary.

In this sense, if you have a health problem or are pregnant, it is ideal to first consult the doctor about what can or cannot be used.

Another necessary precaution is related to phototoxicity (toxic factor of some products when exposed to sunlight). Thus, some essential oils can cause burns when in direct contact with the skin and exposed to the sun (especially citrus fruits, such as lemon and orange).

Can children do aromatherapy?

-Yeah . Children and even babies can benefit from the practice of aromatherapy, widely used in small children to provide soothing action (helps to sleep) and even in cases of colic or colds.

Thus, this technique is often an alternative to avoid the use of medications in children and to guarantee a natural treatment, without synthetic substances.

However, in order to guarantee safety and especially preserve children’s health, alignment with the pediatrician is always necessary. Thus, following the necessary recommendations and using it prudently, the practice can bring benefits.


Although aromatherapy is a recognized practice and with several studies that attest to its benefits, there is still no consensus on its effectiveness. Like many alternative natural treatments, it may (or may not) have the desired effects on those who use it.

Basically, people feel the beneficial stimuli due to the action of essential oils in the limbic system (responsible for emotions and behaviors). In addition to other specific effects, such as the decongestant action from peppermint oil, for example.

The effects can vary according to each person and each picture. But, in general, the benefits are obtained mainly by the association between smells and well-being.

What is the price and where to do it?

Aromatherapy is commonly done at home , without the need for the help of a professional or locomotion to a specific clinic / space for this. It is only in the case of practice through massage that someone is usually hired to perform the procedure.

With regard to price, in some of the techniques such as aromatization and nebulization, devices that assist may be needed. What needs an initial investment.

Thus, the “continuous” expenditure to carry out aromatherapy is with essential oils. But the good news is that, as small drops are used, they usually last a long time.

You can buy them in health food stores, some pharmacies and on online platforms such as Consulta Remédios , which compares prices of the same product in different stores – guaranteeing the purchase at the best value.

Check the price of some essential oils, commonly used in this therapy:

  • Bergamot Phytotherapeutic Essential Oil (5mL) – around R $ 40;
  • Essential Oil Vedis Tea Tree (10mL) – around R $ 50;
  • Essential Oil Phytotherapic Lavender (10mL) – around R $ 50;
  • Peppermint Essential Oil (10mL) – around R $ 40;
  • Essential Orange Phytotherapic Oil (10mL) – around R $ 30;
  • Essential Oil Phytotherapic Rosemary (10mL) – around R $ 30.

* Prices consulted in September 2020. Prices may change.

Alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy, can actually be useful in a number of cases and assist in treating even serious problems like depression. However, remember to exercise caution when using and always seek professional assistance.

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