In recent years, there are many therapy can be used as an alternative medicine to accompany traditional medicine due to its essentials in inducing the emotions, feelings, moods and various aspect of mental health.

Aromatherapy is one of an alternative medicine, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, that National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy defined it as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.  It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.

There are several examples of how aromatherapy is administered such as indirect inhalation via a room diffuser, or the placement of drops of oil nearby, direct inhalation via an inhaler, massaging of essential oils into the skin, simple application of essential oils to the skin.


Referring to the picture above, it shows clearly how does the essential oils reaches via the olfactory bulb to the lymbic system of the brain.

Psychological treatment

Aromatherapy in the modern era began in the early 20th century, as Mark Borigini (2012) believed when the effects of a variety of so-called essential oils (distilled from a variety of plants) began to be studied in the setting of a variety of clinical conditions. There are a variety of theories as to the mechanism of action of aromatherapy; one theory is that the limbic system of the brain is positively stimulated by these soothing smells, easing anxiety and chronic pain.

As founded by Itai (2000), the effects of aromatherapy (odorless condition, lavender, and hiba oil) on mood and anxiety were investigated in 14 female patients who were being treated with chronic hemodialysis at hospital. These results indicated that in chronic hemodialysis patients hiba oil is an effective, non-invasive means for the treatment of depression and anxiety, and that lavender alleviates anxiety.

This is proven with physiological interaction between scent of aromatherapy which triggers the limbic system in the brain. Anxious people who experienced problem with sleeping, heart palpitations and inability to be still and calm will ultimately be affected by this positive stimulation in reducing the level of anxiety.

Benefits of Aromatherapy



The holistic characteristics of essential oils in aromatherapy bring about important physical and psychological benefits. Referring to Patricia (2009), there are 2 types of benefits of aromatherapy:

  1. Physical benefits of aromatherapy
  2. Psychological benefits of aromatherapy

Physical benefits

  • The essential oils in aromatherapy possess anti bacterial properties that helps in faster healing of skin disorders.
  • Blood circulation is enhanced and lymph drainage is stimulated during aromatherapy thus boosting the removal of residual toxins in the body.
  • Aches and pains relating to the muscles and joints such as arthritis and chronic backache are also effectively treated with the help of aromatherapy.
  • Energy and stamina is enhanced when muscular fatigue is relieved.
  • Treatment of skin disorders, metabolism conditions and hormonal imbalances.
  • The essential oil of lavender used in aromatherapy was studied and found to have sedative properties. Researchers revealed that the essential oil helped in promoting deep sleep in both men and women. The study also showed that the participants in the experiment reported high energy after the exposure to the essential oil of lavender.
  • Some important essential oils in aromatherapy are useful in destroying harmful bacteria such as MRSA that causes staph infection, E. coli amongst other bacteria and fungi. Another study revealed that patients who inhaled the essential oils did not face the risk of being attacked by harmful bacteria.
  • Aromatherapy is also believed to positively alter labor experiences among pregnant women.
  • A substantial reduction in shingles pain and healing of shingles blisters was reported among participants who were involved in a study involving aromatherapy for patients with shingles outbreaks.

Psychological benefits

  • Help in boosting the overall state of well-being
  • Useful in soothing and calming the mind
  • Helping in bringing down nervous stress
  • Helping to lift the spirits and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Certain mental ailments such as Alzheimer’s and dementia are known to react positively to aromatherapy treatments. Since aromatherapy helps in relaxing the body and lowering stressful levels, patients with Alzheimer’s and those who experience dementia, display an improved quality of life with the help of aromatherapy. Certain clinical experiments have discovered aromatherapy not only helps in invoking memories but also helps to boost short term memory in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.


  1. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2000 Aug;54(4):393-7.
  2. Psychological effects of aromatherapy on chronic hemodialysis patients.
  3. Itai T1, Amayasu H, Kuribayashi M, Kawamura N, Okada M, Momose A, Tateyama T, Narumi K, Uematsu W, Kaneko S.
  4. (National Association Holistic Aromatherapy)


Last Reviewed : 13 Januari 2017
Writer : Siti Maisurah binti Mohd Ali
Translator : Ruhana binti Mahmud