(NaturalNews) Traditional healers have often used natural scents to calm, soothe and even treat patients. Now comes research from mainstream scientists that shows the aromas from essential oils actually do work to create physical benefits that can be documented.
The study, just published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, found that the essential oils used in aromatherapy for stress relief may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. That's because, with short-term exposure, the smells have a beneficial effect on heart rate and blood pressure.
The research team, headed by Dr. Kai-Jen Chuang from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, studied 100 young, healthy non-smoking men and women. These volunteers visited the research center once a week for three weeks where they were exposed to the aromas of essential oils released from an ultrasonic ionizer. Specifically, 100 percent pure bergamot essential oil was vaporized for one hour in a small study room before the research subjects entered.
After two hours, the volunteers' resting heart rates, systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were taken in the small study room. Essential oils are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) made up of hundreds of aromatic chemicals and the research team also documented the VOC levels in the room throughout the study period.
Results showed the study room's VOC level was significantly associated with reduced blood pressure and heart rate for between 15 and 60 minutes after the start of exposure -- and these changes were statistically significant. However, exposure over an hour increased heart rate and blood pressure, indicating that specific lengths of time of aromatherapy have different impacts on the body. The researchers expressed concern that prolonged exposure could be detrimental because it increases blood pressure. However, although the scientists don't address this issue in their study, the findings also raise questions about whether prolonged aromatherapy might be used to raise blood pressure in people who could benefit from a higher blood pressure -- such as those suffering from shock or inappropriate hypotension (low blood pressure).
As background to the study, the researchers stated that aromatherapy has long been used for stress relief and associated with some healing properties. For example, exposure to essential oils in candles has been found to reduce test-taking anxiety among nursing school students in the U.S. As Natural News has previously reported, additional research has shown specific combinations of essential oils can relieve PMS, also.
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.