Aromatherapy and Mental Wellness

A unique marker for Wallace and Wallace Healing Center is that we offer both clinical aromatherapy and psychotherapy in the same practice. Why do we do this? How are the two related? Allow me to connect the dots.

Mental health evokes images of our brain. The reality is that it is actually a whole body phenomena. Each of our body systems is controlled by the brain, but if there isn't homeostasis, or balance, in our bodies, then we are living in wellness, including mentally. Clinical aromatherapy works to bring those systems to their optimal functioning so that our minds can operate the best that it can. Let me give you an example. Inflammation in our bodies causes all sorts of terrible discomfort, from migraines to arthritis. Stress, anxiety, relational strife, can all lead to elevated levels of stress hormones in our bodies which in turn can cause more inflammation and thus discomfort. However, if we used a pure and potent essential oil or even the plant matter itself, we can work to lessen the discomfort which can then allow the client to better be able to focus on the root causes of the stress. This is a complementary modality. A client might come in to the psychotherapy side and have a successful session but could benefit from the healing aspect of aromatouch oil application (massage) so the referral would flow that way. Or, a client might come for physical issue that the practitioner can very quickly see has a root cause that is more on the mental health sided (think anxiety or depression). Therefore, the referral would flow from the clinical aromatherapy to the psychotherapy side. This partnership allows the client to pursue holistic wellness, mind and body, in the same practice.

Aromatically, pure and potent essential oils, are proven to positively affect the limbic system where our memories and emotions are controlled. Topically, alleviating systemic distress in our bodies allows for mental capacity to engage in the work of pursuing mental health. Although, the efficacy of aromatherapy on mental health was not studied very much before, the tides are turning. Today, science is affirming more and more, what our elders knew to be true. Creation is intimately connected to us, and helps us be our best selves, in mind, body, and spirit.

Below I am linking just a few of the medical articles that are published talking about this connection.

Perry N, Perry E. Aromatherapy in the management of psychiatric disorders: clinical and neuropharmacological perspectives. CNS Drugs. 2006;20(4):257-80. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200620040-00001. PMID: 16599645.

Reis D, Jones T. Aromatherapy: Using Essential Oils as a Supportive Therapy. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2017 Feb 1;21(1):16-19. doi: 10.1188/17.CJON.16-19. PMID: 28107335.

Farrar AJ, Farrar FC. Clinical Aromatherapy. Nurs Clin North Am. 2020 Dec;55(4):489-504. doi: 10.1016/j.cnur.2020.06.015. Epub 2020 Sep 28. PMID: 33131627; PMCID: PMC7520654.

Lowring LM. Using therapeutic essential oils to support the management of anxiety. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2019 Oct;31(10):558-561. doi: 10.1097/JXX.0000000000000227. PMID: 31169787.

Agatonovic-Kustrin S, Kustrin E, Gegechkori V, Morton DW. Anxiolytic Terpenoids and Aromatherapy for Anxiety and Depression. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020;1260:283-296. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-42667-5_11. PMID: 32304038.