The Scientific Benefits Of Aromatherapy Candles
I’m sure you’ve sampled various aromatherapy candles (perhaps even my own Petits Rituels collection) and you may even have read about them, so you more than likely understand that they are therapeutic, relaxing and calming but do you know why they work their magic so beautifully? Many people ask me exactly what my aromatherapy candles do to enhance well-being so I’ve focused this piece on explaining why aromatherapy candles improve well-being and why they are infinitely better than synthetically scented candles.
The Definition of Aromatherapy
The English dictionary defines aromatherapy as follows:
The use of aromatic plant extracts and essential oils for healing and cosmetic purposes
Aromatherapy works by releasing a wondrous natural scent using essential oils and natural aromatic botanicals. These oils have been used for thousands of years to heal and they most definitely enhance emotional wellness. The Ancient Egyptians used aromatherapy scents to cure disease and the Greeks wrote books on the healing properties of essential oils. I still find the oils’ capabilities astounding – just by lighting an aromatherapy candle and inhaling its scent releases mental and physical stress, anxious feelings seem to naturally slip away...
I create my candles applying the art of aromatherapy and use 12 essential oils. I do believe that my candles bring an outstanding well-being experience, delivering an incredible scent which fills a room without appearing overpowering. I would say my scents are subtle but deliciously noticeable and they envelope the senses, evoking a sensual, soothing feeling. I also believe that aromatherapy candles are genuine tried and tested solutions for those who want to feel calm, happy or perhaps help with getting to sleep or unwinding after a long day at work. Equally, some of my candles are ideal for enhancing a romantic mood or for boosting a cheerful feeling. This is the power of the essential oils I use.
Sometimes you might hear aromatherapy referred to as olfactory aromatherapy and this is because aromatherapy also works its magic in the nasal cavity. When you inhale essential oils the molecules enter the nose and stimulate olfactory receptors there. Each receptor is activated by different odour molecules, and each odour molecule activates different types of receptors. The complexity of receptors and how they interact with smell molecules allows us to detect different smells such as the scent of a rose or lavender. It’s a little like music, you could compare each to a melody made out of notes and these notes triggered by the receptors are activated by the different molecules.
Sensory neurons then carry signals to the olfactory bulb which processes the scent and the brain detects this action through the limbic system. This is the emotional area that also plays a key part in creating new memories associated with past experiences.
Scents can also cause the limbic system (sometimes referred to as the emotional brain) to release neuro messengers including serotonin and endorphins. At low levels, these produce mild effects of relaxation and happiness.
This is why some scents trigger happy memories and positive emotions at the same time. So if you inhale fresh lavender, your brain may recognise the scent from a holiday in Provence and immediately you feel happy and relaxed because it also releases serotonin and endorphins – the “happy” hormones! This part of the brain is connected to other areas of the brain, such as the areas that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. This is why certain scents can reduce stress levels, slow down the heart rate and even reduce blood pressure – clever right?
It’s no coincidence that spas and beauty salons use aromatherapy and different scents to relax you. Did you know that many medical centres also use it? Even some labour wards use lavender oil to help alleviate the symptoms of contractions and pain. It’s well known that some specific aromas are used to alleviate sleeplessness and aid those who suffer depression even helping with post-operative healing. As an example, a study at the University of Vienna showed that orange essential oil is excellent for treating those who suffer from anxiety; therefore the use of essential oils is respected even in clinical environments!
So Do Synthetic Candles Work The Same Way?
The answer to this is simple – no, they don’t! However, you probably want to know why. The bottom line is, anything synthetic means it’s not natural so the scent you inhale with a synthetic candle is chemical. This also means it contains toxins and other nasties that you shouldn’t really have lingering in your home or your body! Now, essential oils are made up of organic particles which are beneficial to the mind and body. Remember, as well as inhaling scent, the particles involved in scent also travel to the lungs which means they interact with the respiratory system. Of course, for essential oils, there are no dangers. Once natural oils are inhaled into the body they re-modulate themselves and work in a friendly way.
What makes each oil unique and therapeutic is not just one of the chemical components (also called hydrocarbon molecules) working in isolation, but the whole delicate balance of all the molecules working together. Again, it’s like a symphony where each molecule is a note of music and only when you bring them all together and they vibrate in a certain way the magic happens! This is something that synthetic oils cannot recreate and is one of the mysteries of nature that man has never been able to decipher.
There have been many reports to show that natural oils are infinitely better than anything synthetic (and generally anything natural is better than something manmade). One such report was based on the effects of olfactory aromatherapy on the brain and was conducted in 1993 (G. Buchbauer, L. Jirovetz, W. Jager, C. Plank, H. Dietrich “Fragrance compounds and essential oils with sedative effects upon inhalation” J Pharm Sci, 82 (1993), pp. 660–664). The results stated clearly that natural aromatherapy was far better when compared to synthetic scents.
Additionally, essential oils are natural and one of nature’s puzzles. No matter how good the laboratory or how advanced modern science is there is no way it can unlock the special secrets of essential oils!
My Petits Rituels Essential Oils
Armed with all the above knowledge you are truly well versed in the benefits of an aromatherapy candle, why it is far superior to any synthetic scent and you know why I truly believe in the relaxing properties of essential oils. As far as my homemade aromatherapy candles I only use the finest essential oils. Here’s an overview of the 3 oils that are found in many of my candles and how they positively affect the mind and body.
There is a lot to be said for natural lavender which is why it is one of my favourite scents, not only does it produce a heady, herbal and floral scent it is also an incredibly relaxing oil. For those of you who are familiar with the benefits of natural lavender, you will already appreciate its medicinal properties and know that it is a calming aroma which helps to induce relaxation and sleep. There have been many studies on animals and humans which suggest that lavender is a mood stabilizer and it’s also a famous natural sedative. Additionally, lavender is anti-convulsive, an analgesic and is used as a natural remedy to treat insomnia and improve sleep quality. So whether it’s used for students studying for important exams, menopausal women or those who find it difficult to switch off at the end of the day it’s a remarkable natural scent which works wonders.
Lavender has many other benefits too. It works beautifully for those who suffer from anxiety or depression because it has a relaxing effect proven to decrease blood pressure, lower heart rate and even decrease skin temperature so it produces a sense of emotional wellbeing.
The certified organic lavender essential oil I use actually comes from Provence in the South of France which is the home of natural lavender. In my mind I use the best essential oil in the world, hand on heart I don’t think there is anything better! The Petits Rituels Provence aromatherapy candle is the one in my collection which uses the highest proportion of lavender essential oil and it is perfect for those who want to relax or perhaps want to fall asleep easily. There are other candles in my collection which also contain lavender oil; Sensual Healing, Fleur Boisée and Floral Sensations. Learn more about my Provence candle in one of my previous blogs here: http://goo.gl/0VZlf7.
For improved mental well-being, there’s nothing quite like rose geranium oil. It’s believed that geranium oil has the power to improve mental function and uplift spirits and is recommended for those who suffer from anxiety and depression. In addition, geranium oil is excellent for calming down aggression and anger because the sweet, floral smell instantly soothes and relaxes. You can feel the stress disappearing and the muscles in your body releasing when this scent is inhaled. There is a scientific reason for this. The adrenal cortex is on top of the kidneys and this is what mediates stress because it releases mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids, such as aldosterone and cortisol, respectively. The scent of rose geranium balances the adrenal cortex so it harmonizes the nervous system, relieving depression and anxiety so it lifts spirits! In fact, it’s so good that it is often used in labour wards because of its anxiety soothing properties and a study by Tabriz University of Medical Sciences found that rose geranium essential oil is excellent for women in labour especially when inhaled. Try it especially if you’ve had a stressful day.
This essential oil has a mild sedative effect but it also is capable of inducing feelings of euphoria! This is why it was a popular ancient remedy for anxiety, tension, shock, fear and panic and it’s still very much used for these reasons today.
Ylang Ylang also has aphrodisiac qualities which are excellent for helping with romantic and sexual mood so it’s seen as a great tool to work against impotence. For those who suffer from low self- esteem, Ylang Ylang works wonders and there was the research carried by the University Hospital from Universidade de São Paulo (HU-USP) which proved that Ylang Ylang significantly altered self-esteem perception. This is because it calms nerves which are often experienced by those who sadly feel they are unworthy. It’s simple if you don’t feel nervous you are far more able to deal with situations which otherwise would make you jittery. Learn more about the aromatic benefits of Ylang Ylang.
So, there you have it – there is much scientific evidence that aromatherapy oils are extremely positive and beneficial, not only enhancing mood but reaching further into the body and altering the brain’s perception of situations. These scents are so far-reaching they naturally alter the central nervous system albeit temporarily and trigger pleasant memories. Not only does aromatherapy work to bring a sense of well-being and health, but it also produces feel-good hormones, serotonin and endorphins. Essential oils are completely safe (as long as you use them correctly!) and will not fill your home or your body with toxins which could be dangerous long term – all in all, an aromatherapy candle delivers an infinitely positive experience that anyone of any age can enjoy and benefit from.