Home Remodeling – Essential Knowledge

Aromatherapy -Scent & Sense





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Aromatherapy and Remodeling?!

It may come as a surprise that we would include a post on Aromatherapy on a website on remodeling. But let’s step back.

The whole purpose of a beautiful home environment, aside from providing functional living space, is to make us feel good. After all, why else would we spend so much time thinking about how we lay out and decorate our homes? 

We have five senses: sight, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. And there is no reason why our homes should not be made to cater to all of them. Let’s take a quick look at all of them.

Sight: This is the sense that gets the most obvious satisfaction from how we decorate our homes. But let’s not forget the subtle sub-set of sight, which is color. Color affects our mood.

Touch: We are certainly conscious of our sense of touch when we select the floors we walk on, for example. And then there is the fabric we sit on and sleep in.

Hearing: When we equip our homes, we are certain to include music and other sound delivery systems.

Taste: We spend a great deal of time, effort, and money to make sure that our kitchens deliver food that tastes good.

Smell: This is the sense we appreciate least. And, usually, it only comes into play when something smells bad. But this is why we keep our homes clean and pay attention to our air quality. And, in a way, aromatherapy goes hand in hand with air quality, which is why we include it here. 

Our sense of smell is also why we like scented soap. And why some of us will light scented candles. And we all like the smell of great food cooking.

So, just as our sense of sight can impart mood with color. So our sense of smell can impart mood. 

But this can go beyond mood. What we inhale can also be therapeutic, that is, good for us.

The corollary of removing harmful substances from the air is to add beneficial things. And our home environment can be made to do this by delivering aromatherapy.

So, since this subject may be new to many readers, we dwell on it at some length in this post.

Aromatherapy Delivery Systems

There are some sophisticated delivery systems out there, including those that can be incorporated into showers, steam showers, and saunas. And that is a whole separate subject that the reader can research.

But the typical delivery system is a simple diffuser. Here is a selection:

InnoGear Essential Oil Diffuser

  • Disperses stream of room-temperature mist
  • Romantic mood light

Here is one with a, perhaps, more attractive ambiance:

And, if you want Wi-Fi/Alexa compatibility, here is this Asakuki model.

Smart WiFi Essential Oil Diffuser 

  • Alexa compatible
  • 700ml capacity so it can work through the night

Where to Place a Diffuser?

So, where in the home should I put one of these diffusers? 

This is a good question with a simple (and not flippant) answer. This is, wherever your mood requires. For example, you could put it in a bathroom to help create a spa-like ambiance. Or you could put it in your zen zone, or your home office.

Aromatherapy and Science

Aromatherapy and science are starting to converge.

The benefits of aromatherapy have such a long and persistent history that they cannot easily be dismissed as quackery. However, modern (mainly Western) medicine has long scoffed at it as no more than folk medicine.

But aromatherapy is now beginning to get mainstreamed as a legitimate supportive treatment within holistic, integrative, and alternative medicine.

So this post gets into the relationship between aromatherapy and science and provides online references as appropriate. 

We also get into the beneficial uses of aromatherapy that now have scientific support. Plus, we will touch on some of the dangers and contraindications of aromatherapy.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy originates in the ancient practice of herbal medicine. It uses essential oils extracted from aromatic plants to benefit the health of the body and mind. Each oil has its own healing properties and is applied in specific ways, depending on the condition to be treated.

Aromatherapy in Europe and the US

For perspective, some parts of Europe have for some time brought aromatherapy into mainstream medicine as an antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antifungal therapy. The French regulate some essential oils as prescription drugs. However, the US and Canada lag behind this trend.

Our Takeaway on Aromatherapy and Science

Our take on aromatherapy and science is that, yes, science is indeed lending its support for aromatherapy as a legitimate treatment for the symptoms of many ailments. On the other hand, it is not necessarily a cure for everything that ails you.

When used improperly, essential oils can be dangerous. It is not for nothing that the French limit some essential oils to prescription only.

The Science Behind Aromatherapy

We have linked to an interesting industry site for the science behind aromatherapy. And here, in summary, is how they describe how the health benefits of aromatherapy are delivered.  


Our sense of smell is said to be 10,000 times more potent than any other sense. So the olfactory system delivers the effect of an aroma to the brain quickly and powerfully. This affects mood by causing the release of serotonin and endorphins.

Serotonin is a hormone that stabilizes mood and induces feelings of happiness and well-being. Endorphins are chemicals that the body produces to relieve stress and pain.

On top of that, our sense of smell is strongly connected to memory. Pretty much everyone has experienced the mind-body connection of an aroma that has triggered a powerful memory.

Topical Application

Essential oils are exceptionally high in antioxidants as measured by the ORAC test. And antioxidants are well known for their importance in fighting the free radical damage that causes oxidative damage behind many conditions. Such conditions include aging skin, cancer, and heart disease.

Energy, Frequency, Vibration

Biofield phenomena were studied by Bruce Tainio, as they relate to the human body frequency and the frequencies of things that support or interfere with the working of our bodies. This also relates to the principle of entrainment.  

The concept of brainwave entrainment brings us to the binaural beats and isochronic tones used in music for meditation. So our bodies and minds respond to the frequencies that are all around us

The point here is that essential oils have very high measured frequencies. This is compared to the low frequencies measured in a human body affected by disease. 

And all of this relates in a way to the concept of Chi or Qi in traditional Chinese medicine. Chi is the vital energy that moves the body all the time. Of course, Chinese medicine includes the application of herbal remedies and exercises like tai chi. These herbal remedies are closely related to essential oils.

A professional Chiropractor, Jason Bergerhouse,  provides an excellent overview of this frequency-vibration phenomenon. He applies it to foods and, by fair inference, to essential oils. 

There is a distinction between life-giving high-energy foods and disease-causing low-energy foods. And essential oils, which are derived from plants, are in the high-energy category. So, in a sense, the way we absorb the aromas from these oils is just another way of receiving high-energy nutrition.

Now, in our humble opinion, the olfactory and antioxidant properties and beneficial effects of essential oils seem well established. However, the frequency effect, which is certainly fascinating and we don’t dismiss it, seems a bit far out and needs more research. 

For now, we’ll just add this supporting explanation of the science of aromatherapy

Aromatherapy in Modern Medicine

As medicine in the Western world became more “established,” which started in the 19th century, the use of chemically created drugs came into greater and greater focus. Nonetheless, German and French physicians continued to accept the role of natural botanical medicine in the treatment of their patients.

And it was the French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé who coined the term “aromatherapy” and published a book about it in 1937. He had previously come across the healing power of lavender in the treatment of burns.

How Essential Oils and Aromatherapy Work

Here we’ll take a look at what essential oils are and where there is evidence that supports the use of aromatherapy in the treatment of various conditions. We’ll also see where evidence is lacking, and where you should avoid using essential oils.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are extracted from a large variety of plants, including trees. And the plant material used may be fruit, flowers, leaves, or bark. The extraction is done in several ways, depending on the type of plant. All of them require a large amount of plant material to produce oil in usable quantities, which is partly why essential oils can be expensive.

Methods of extraction include the following.

Steam Distillation

The plant material is placed in a still through which steam is passed. The heat breaks down the oil storage chambers of the plant and releases it into a condenser. Here the water and oil are separated as they cool.

Pressing or Expression

In this process, the plant material is pressed or crushed to release the oil.


In enfleurage, the plant material is placed on sheets of glass and covered with purified fat. The fat absorbs the oils until it is saturated. The resulting compound is then dissolved in alcohol. The fat, which is insoluble in alcohol, gets separated. The remainder is heated and the alcohol, which evaporates quickly, leaves the essential oils behind. 


This process is similar to enfleurage. But here the plant material is crushed to rupture the oil glands. The whole is then placed in vegetable oil, which will absorb the essential oil and the crushed material is filtered off. 

Solvent Extraction

This method uses chemicals to extract the essential oil from the plant material. But unfortunately, some chemical residue gets left behind. And this can cause skin irritation.

Carbon Dioxide Extraction

This is a relatively new process that extracts oils at low temperatures but high pressure. The process takes place in a sealed container and leaves the whole oil behind as the carbon dioxide evaporates.

Aromatherapy Products

We have already seen that aromatherapy works through inhalation and skin absorption. And it is delivered to us through a variety of products. These are mainly diffusers for inhalation and creams and lotions for topical applications.

However, one also finds inhalers, jewelry, facial steamers, bath salts, compresses, and masks. They can be used alone or in combination.

Essential oils are everywhere. They are online and in health food stores. They are so widely available that we should point out that the FDA does not regulate essential oils. 

So, since these essential oils directly affect our bodies, we need to be sure that we get them from a reputable source. We want to make sure that we get a quality product without additives. Here are a few tips:

  • Evaluate the supplier. You want to deal with an aromatherapy company that has been around for a long time.
  • Check the label for the Latin name of the plant, country of origin, and any added ingredients.
  • Check for purity (100% essential oil).
  • Choose oils in dark-colored glass containers that will protect the quality of the oil.

And, if you are serious about this, find an aromatherapist certified by a recognized school for advice.

How to Select an Aromatherapy Provider

First, before looking for an aromatherapist, consult your physician. After all, aromatherapy is a supplementary, not a primary treatment. There may be some coordination of treatment required.

You may even be able to get a referral from your doctor, depending on how far he or she is into integrative medicine. Otherwise, go to an online directory, or talk to a local yoga studio or spa.

A certified clinical aromatherapist (CCA) will make a detailed assessment of a client’s problem and then create a custom blend of therapeutic-grade essential oils to address the issue. This requires considerable knowledge of the chemistry and application of the oils.

Top Aromatherapy Oils for Stress and Anxiety 

We have listed below those aromatherapy oils for stress and anxiety that appear to be the most effective in relieving the symptoms of those conditions. Many of these are recommended by the American College of Healthcare Sciences.

This list is mainly based on tradition and the received experience of our fellow humans over the centuries. However, we have included links to modern studies that support their use. Click on the links to find these essential oils on Amazon.

Holy Basil

basil essential oil

Holy Basil or Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum – is related to sweet basil, the herb we use in our cooking. In aromatherapy, its essential oil has a calming effect and traditionally aids in the relief of stress and anxiety. It is widely used in the ancient Indian Ayurveda natural healing tradition. It is called “holy” because of its high regard in Indian tradition.

Holy Basil contains eugenol. This is a compound that provides its minty and spicy aroma. According to 2014 research, holy basil is an adaptogenic herb that has shown promise in treating physical and mental stress.

A 2015 Iranian study of the sedative effects of a related essential oil in mice verified the calming effect and concluded that this effect could be attributed to the phenol and terpenoid components of the oil.


bergamot essential oil

The Bergamot orange – Citrus bergamia – is a hybrid of bitter orange and lemon. It is native to the Calabria region of Italy. Bergamot Essential Oil (BEO) comes from the bergamot orange via cold-pressing the orange rind. It is used in foods, perfumes, and cosmetics.

Bergamot is used in Earl Gray tea and eau de cologne.

It has also been found to have antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. And studies also indicate that aromatherapy treatment with BEO can help reduce the effects of stress and anxiety.

So here again we have modern science that pretty much reinforces what the ancients have always known. And here is further reinforcement. According to a 2015 review, bergamot essential oil inhalation reduces anxiety in rats. Also, a 2013 study found that aromatherapy with bergamot orange essential oil lessened anxiety in people waiting for minor surgery.


chamomile essential oil

Chamomile oil is derived from the flowers of two varieties of the chamomile plant. These are Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile or Anthemis nobilis) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita or Chamomilla Recutita). Chamomile is related to daisies and resembles a daisy. 

The sweet, fruity-smelling essential oil is extracted from the Chamomile flowers by steam distillation. 

Aside from tradition, there is considerable modern support for the calming effect of chamomile. It is just as often used in tea as in aromatherapy.

An 8-week  2017 study found a reduction in anxiety symptoms in almost 60% of the people studied who had been using chamomile extract.

A small 2018 study found that therapy with chamomile helped increase morning cortisol levels and reduce anxiety symptoms.

Low morning levels of a hormone called cortisol have been linked with anxiety disorders. 

The National Cancer Institute describes a 2-week clinical trial to investigate the effects Roman chamomile oil massage has on people with cancer. The study found that this massage with chamomile oil helped relieve anxiety more than a massage without oil.

Clary Sage

Clary sage – Salvia sclarea – is a close relative of the common garden herb sage. Clary sage is a medicinal herb with a strong reputation for having properties that relieve anxiety.

The calming effect of clary sage essential oil has long been known in the practice of aromatherapy. But science is now starting to confirm it. 

Clary sage essential oil is effective in relaxing patients during dental procedures. And Clary sage oil aromatherapy has also been shown to have antidepressant-like effects.

A study from 2013 explored the effects of essential oil in 34 females with urinary incontinence. The study found that compared with those who inhaled lavender and almond essential oils, those who inhaled clary sage oil experienced noticeable decreases in respiratory rate and blood pressure. A related result of this research was that clary sage oil helped people relax while having a bladder exam.


geranium essential oil

Geranium – Geraniaceae – essential oil has been used to treat health conditions for centuries. There is scientific evidence suggesting that Geranium essential oil is helpful with depression, anxiety, and pain management. It also appears to have an antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effect. 

Geranium essential oil is an extract from the entire plant. It has a long history and was used in ancient Egypt as a beautifying agent.  

The inhalation of the aroma of Geranium essential oil supports emotions by creating a grounding and calming effect. The overall effect is to reduce feelings of stress and calm nerves. 


lavender essential oil

Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia – is a fragrant flowering purple plant

There have been many studies of the well-known relaxing effects of Lavender essential oil. Lavender is anti-inflammatory, relaxes muscles, and relieves anxiety. 

One study found that aromatherapy with lavender essential oil lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate, lowered skin temperature, and also changed brain waves to a more relaxed state. This was combined with an overall calming of the nervous system.

Aromatherapists believe that lavender essential oil has properties that will relax muscles, relieve stress, and are also anti-inflammatory.

According to a 2017 review, there is evidence from clinical trials that aromatherapy with lavender oil can reduce anxiety in advance of surgery and cosmetic procedures. It also helps reduce anxiety among people in intensive care units.


lemon essential oil

Lemon – Citrus Limonum – The essential oil extracted from lemon rind or leaves has a rich citrus scent. It is commonly used in aromatherapy.

A 2015 review found that exposing mice and rats to lemon oil appeared to have an anxiety-relieving effect. On the other hand, over-exposure could cause a stressful response/

A 2016 study found that aromatherapy with lemon essential oil relieved anxiety in patients after orthopedic surgery.

Lemon Balm-Melissa

lemon balm

Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis – smells like lemon but is a herb in the mint family. 

The ancient Greeks revered lemon balm. And both the renowned 11th-century Persian physician Avicenna and the 16th-century German alchemist Hieronymus Brunschwig found that lemon balm reduced stress and anxiety.

In the 14th century, Lemon balm was used in the formulation of Carmelite water, also known as Eau de Melisse. This has been used as an alcoholic tonic herbal remedy ever since.

This article discusses the anti-stress effect of lemon balm in food formulations.

In aromatherapy, lemon balm essential oil promotes calmness and eases stress.


neroli essential oil

Neroli (Citrus aurantium L.)  Essential Oil (Neroli EO) is extracted from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree. Neroli is also known as the orange blossom oil. It is reported to have been incorporated into the secret Coca-Cola recipe.

Neroli EO is used for its soothing and calming effect by healthcare centers in Italy, Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and Martinique. 

A 2015 review notes that research supports aromatherapy with neroli oil as having a calming effect.

In aromatherapy, Neroli can positively affect mood and promotes a feeling of well-being and emotional balance.

Rose Absolute

rose absolute

Rose absolute  – Rosa damascena – (also known as the Damask Rose) has a rich floral scent. It is widely used in perfumery and is known for its calming effect. Although it has been around for thousands of years, its origins remain a mystery. However, many historians follow the name and tip it to Damascus in Syria.

In aromatherapy, Rose Absolute will help soothe emotions and can promote relaxation before sleep.


sandalwood essential oil

Sandalwood – santalum album – oil (SAO), also known as East Indian sandalwood oil (EISO), is an essential oil distilled from the Santalum album tree.

Sandalwood has played an important part in human history, having figured prominently on the Silk Road. It is considered sacred in India. And in China and Tibet, sandalwood was used as an antiseptic in herbal medicine.

It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. And research supports that sandalwood has a sedative effect, and can reduce anxiety, increase non-REM sleep, and ease stress.

Sweet Orange

sweet orange essential oil

Sweet Orange – Citrus sinensis – Essential Oil can be contrasted with Neroli, which is derived from Bitter Orange – Citrus aurantium.

Aromatherapy with Sweet Orange essential oil has been shown in this study to have a calming effect on children in dentistry. Another study found that it had a positive effect on the mood of mice.

Of course, all these studies do is confirm what aromatherapists have known for a long time. Sweet Orange essential oil helps people deal with stress and anxiety.

Ylang Ylang

ylang ylang essential oil

The Ylang Ylang tree – Cananga odorata – is a tropical tree, also called the Macassar Oil Plant and The Perfume Tree.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil has a sweet and floral aroma and comes from the steam distillation of this tree’s star-shaped flowering parts.

Ylang Ylang essential oil is a sweet floral aromatic extracted from the flower of a tropical tree in Southeast Asia. 

In many small studies, Ylang Ylang aroma has been shown to relax and reduce blood pressure.

It is widely known among aromatherapists that the Ylang Ylang essential oil helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Clary Sage

  • Relaxing
  • Relieves anxiety/stress
  • Antispasmodic
  • Relieves Menstrual Cramps
  • Labor pain management
  • Aphrodisiac


  • Muscle Pain
  • Respiratory complaints
  • Edema
  • Astringent
  • Menstrual Pain
  • Antispasmodic
  • Cellulitis


  • Beneficial for cold/flu season
  • Expectorant
  • Bronchitis
  • Decongestant
  • Energizing
  • Refreshes the mind


  • Antimicrobial
  • Menstrual issues
  • Digestive


  • Antimicrobial
  • Indicated or hormonal imbalance
  • Nerve pain
  • Premenstrual syndrome


  • Digestion
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Relieves 
  • Pain relief
  • Anti-Inflammatory


  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Wound Healing
  • Bruises and Swelling
  • Cell regenerative


  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Calming
  • Burns (it was this treatment that was so instrumental in introducing the whole concept of aromatherapy)
  • Wound healing
  • Cell regenerative
  • Itchiness
  • Insect bites
  • Antispasmodic
  • Skincare
  • Very good with children


  • Strengthens immune system
  • Antioxidant
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-stress
  • Bracing
  • Home cleaning 


  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiviral
  • Insect repellant
  • Used for cleaning


  • Calming
  • Good with children and you can combine it with lavender


  • Anxiety
  • Antidepressant
  • Antispasmodic
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Pregnancy/Delivery
  • Postpartum Depression


  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Antidepressant
  • Soothing to the nervous system


  • Nausea relief
  • Muscular aches and pains
  • Migraines
  • Antispasmodic
  • Energizing

Roman Chamomile 

  • Anxiety/stress
  • Sedative
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antispasmodic
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Soothing for children 


  • Relieves stress and anxiety
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Cell Regenerative
  • Premenstrual syndrome


  • Bronchitis
  • Expectorant
  • Sinus Congestion
  • Good for respiratory congestion
  • Colds and flu
  • Energizing
  • Circulation

Tea Tree 

  • Immune support
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antifungal


  • Astringent
  • Calming
  • Varicose veins

Ylang Ylang 

  • Antidepressant
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Antispasmodic

Essential Oil Safety and Side Effects

Essential oils are derived from Nature and are not pharmaceutical drugs. Nonetheless, there are precautions to take in their use and there are potential side effects. Any kind of therapeutic needs to be taken with care.

Precautions to Take with Essential Oils

So, while in no way discouraging people from using essential oils, here in no particular order are some precautions to take.

Use them safely. For example:

  • Never ingest an essential oil, unless under close medical supervision.
  • Be wary of using essential oil diffusers in a household of multiple people, especially if some are very young.
  • Use essential oils directly with an aromatherapy accessory like a necklace or bracelet. These incorporate an absorbent material that one can infuse with an essential oil.
  • Be careful if you have hay fever, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, epilepsy, or high blood pressure.
  • Use a body oil or cream applied directly but in the correct concentration. 
  • Keep essential oils away from children.
  • Be aware that some essential oils can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Go to aromatherapy safety for additional reference.

Conclusion on Aromatherapy and Science

There is an excellent analysis of aromatherapy here in Science Direct. And this piece from the University of Michigan Medical School outlines some of the studies done on aromatherapy.

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