The Mental Health Benefits Of Aromatherapy

March 10, 2013

Flower Candles

Image Credit: Yoshifumi Harada

by Neil Maycock

The brain is the most important part of the human body. It is the centre where impulses are created and sent to the different parts of the body for a reaction to take place. A healthy person has a healthy and well balanced brain. Our mental health is extremely important to our overall health. If anything goes wrong with the brain, the physical well-being of a person can easily be affected.

Stress is one big problem that affects working people in this modern world. The problem is the immune system of a person that is constantly stressed, overtime, gets weak and that allows pathogens to easily enter the body and create all kinds of diseases. This is why it is so important to avoid stress and keep the balance of the brain. That can be a daunting task when living in an environment that gives so much pressure to the average person. Fortunately aromatherapy oils can help.

One can bring back balance to the brain by making use of essential oils. The use of these oils can assist and play a significant role in helping you deal with certain emotional states. The chemical molecules that make up essential oils work in synergy with one another and when inhaled the brain reacts positively. Those molecules can trigger different reactions in the brain. Our emotions are affected by the reactions that occur when inhaling those naturally occurring molecules and that can make us really feel good and let the stress go away.

When the aroma of an essential oil passes through our nose, the molecules that the oil is made of eventually get into the olfactory bulb where electric impulses are created. Those impulses are then sent to the amygdala and the limbic system which also react to it. (The amygdala is a small mass of nuclei located deep within the temporal lobe of the brain. It is a limbic system structure involved in many of our emotions, especially those that are related to survival. The amygdala is involved in the processing of emotions such as fear, anger and pleasure.)

There are parts of the brain that control the heart rate, the memory, the hormonal balance and breathing. The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain. The implication is anytime the limbic system reacts based on impulses sent by the olfactory bulb, the hormonal balance, heart rate and memory of a person can be altered.

One way to stimulate the amygdala is through the aroma coming from essential oils. This can revive good memories from our childhood and bring a sense of well-being. This implies that essential oils can have a profound effect on the mental state of a person and this explains why people don’t hesitate to use them to restore balance when they are stressed.

Essential oils and Emotional states

There are many kinds of essential oils and they all have different properties. Depending on the kind of effect you want you should know which one to rely on. Here are the different types of emotions you might be dealing with which essential oils can help.


It happens to all of us to be angry sometimes. In most cases the anger will go away on its own after a while. That said it may occur that somebody did something to you that made you so angry that even after some few days you still hold that anger inside you. That is not good for your health. To help ease up your state of mind, Bergamot can be useful. You can also rely on Jasmine, Neroli and Orange essential oils to bring your temper down.


Fear is not necessarily a bad emotion in that it prevents you from putting yourself in dangerous situations. That said unreasonable fear can be a problem because it may prevent you from taking proper action when dealing with certain situations. In that case you might want to rely on essential oils like the Roman Chamomile; it has a sedative and soothing effect. Bergamot, Clary Sage and Grapefruit oils can also be useful in helping you deal with your fears.


We’ve all been through depressing moments in our lives. Hearing certain bad news like the death of a loved one can have devastating consequences on our emotional state. In this difficult moment you might want to rely on Frankincense essential oil to raise your spirit. This oil has been used for years in spiritual circles to reduce tension and stress and allow the spirit to be lifted. Other oils that can help you deal with your depression are Geranium, Helichysum and Lavender.


It can happen that you are worried about something without really knowing what exactly bothers you. This can prevent you from focusing at work and in the long run you end up not being productive. You need an essential oil that can help you focus and get rid of unnecessary worries. Clary Sage, Patchouli and Bergamot can be used for that. Patchouli has been known to help people emotionally and calm them. It’s been known as an aphrodisiac too so if you feel anxious when you are about to have sex remember to use this oil.


If you are a musician playing for an audience or a businessman about to do a presentation to your partners, you need to boost your confidence. There are oils that can help you with that too. Bay laurel is one of them. It gives the user confidence, inspiration, a sense of direction and fortitude. With the help of this oil you can appear more convincing to your audience. Other oils that you can rely on for confidence are Cypress and Rosemary.

Memory and Concentration

Essential oils are not useful only for the emotional state of the mind but can also help the brain improve with respect to memory and concentration. When you think of an oil that can help you focus, you should remember Basil essential oil. It helps stimulate the mind and allows you to focus, enabling you to make the most out of the day. Cypress and peppermint can also be used to get a similar effect.

Possible negative effect

Bear in mind that essential oils produce an aroma that is picked up by your nose. Even though, generally speaking, the aroma is supposed to bring about a sense of well-being, depending on certain events that you went through in your life, you might not feel comfortable having those odours around you. If you associate a traumatic event with a certain aroma, then the aroma is best avoided.

How the Oil can be used

The simplest way to use essential oils is to allow their aroma to diffuse in your room. There are different techniques used to get it done. It is not a bad idea to also have a few drops of the oil in the water used for bathing. If you can get a massage therapist to massage you with any of those oils, even better.

Take note that not only essential oils help balance the brain. You might want to practice some form of daily meditation and eat a healthy diet.