DOES AROMATHERAPY WORK?
Usually the questions researchers ask when determining if something “works” revolves around its effect on life expectancy. It is assumed that a procedure or product works if it can extend the length of people’s lives. Within the context, it is only natural that one asks the question, does aromatherapy extend people’s lives? I would not rush into making that conclusion.
Let’s consider some of the known uses of aromatherapy and how they have been said to “work”.
People claim to use aromatherapy for a vast number of reasons which include reduction of pain, anxiety, fear, nausea and generally to boost one’s sense of well-being.
With respect to pain, we know that mortality can be increased if a patient is subjected to chronic pain; and if the oils and fragrances can help reduce or eliminate the pain, then they could be said to have indirectly extended the patient’s life. However, it is worthy of mention that pain is one of the most difficult conditions to study for the sole reason that human beings have different thresholds of pain and any such study will rely heavily on the participant’s perception. Thus, it is quite difficult to have any reputable study on the link between aromatherapy and pin relief.
However, there was a study which made an attempt to and the results showed that there is no significant relationship between aromatherapy and pain relief. This shows that aromatherapy would not work based on the scientific definition of the word.
It is valid to say that aromatherapy enhances one’s sense of well-being by making them feel better. This is derived from the fact that these oils and fragrances have some undisputed uses which includes their relaxation effect. In some cases, people have reportedly felt happier just using some of these oils. Felling happy and relaxed improves one’s state of health and may be said to indirectly increase life expectancy, so, aromatherapy “works” in this sense.
In another light, the belief in aromatherapy may just be what makes it “work” for some people. This can be likened to the effect of a placebo which can cure an illness without any medicinal substance being used.
In conclusion, aromatherapy does not have any proven clinical applications and should only be used as an adjunctive treatment if it is to be used at all.