By Meredith Sheldon

No one likes to feel sick or tired, but what if you could relieve your aches and pains using just your sense of smell? Aromatherapy is just such a practice, and if you find yourself feeling stressed after a long day at work, you might want to give it a try.

Aromatherapy is a natural treatment for illness, stress, anxiety and other tensions with the use of essential oils, according to certified aromatherapist and owner of Heaven Scent Aroma Shop Georgeann Lytle. She received her certification through the Aromahead Institute, which is accredited through the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, after completing 235 hours of coursework in aromatherapy, anatomy and physiology.

Dating back to ancient times in China, India and the Middle East, aromatherapy is not a new practice. Lytle said herbal and plant oils were used as remedies for pain. Lavender, for instance, was often used as a treatment for burns.

How it works

Aromatherapy infuses highly concentrated herbal extracts into the air. When you smell an essential oil, the scent stimulates your mind and body, Lytle said. The oils heated with steam and distilled. She said inhaling the oils has a direct impact on our limbic system, which regulates our mood, emotion and hunger drives.

“The sense of smell is a powerful thing,” said Lytle

Aromatherapy can be practiced remotely or by a professional in a class setting. However, since the oils are very concentrated, Lytle said it is important to know the safety regulations before practicing at home to prevent injury and toxicity. She said some oils, if used incorrectly or in excess, can cause damage to your liver and kidneys or even cause death. For beginners who want to try aromatherapy, she recommends contacting an aromatherapist or expert in your area to enroll in a beginner class to understand the practice.

What are the benefits

There are many health benefits to aromatherapy, from reducing headache tension and cigarette cravings to relieving fungal infections and regulating circulatory stimulation. Even though these essential oils can be used relieve pain, they are not a cure. There is limited evidence to support aromatherapy as a way to prevent and cure diseases. Essential oils are meant to complement, not substitute, professional, medical treatment.

Essential oils can be inhaled, digested or applied to the skin. When applying the oils to the skin, rashes and other skin irritations are common side effects. Inhaling the oils has the safest, most effective results. Lytle said lavender and peppermint are the most common oils for beginners as they are very versatile and inexpensive.

You can order the scents from aromatherapy shops online, and you can purchase other aromatherapy accessories to infuse the oils into the air. Be sure to consult a certified aromatherapist or a physician prior to beginning this practice to ensure your safety.

If you are looking to try aromatherapy and don’t know where to start, here are some of the scents that are best for beginners.

-Black pepper oil – Reduces aches and pains, stimulates the immune and digestive systems

-Clary sage – Promotes hair and scalp health, relaxes for a restful night’s sleep, relieves menstrual cramps

-Clove – Supports cardiovascular health, energizes

-Eucalyptus oil – Helps treat mosquito bite irritation and can help with respiratory inflammation

-Geranium oil – Works as an anti-depressant, refreshes oily skin

-Ginger – Relieves constipation and nausea, promotes a healthy digestive system

-Lavender oil – Reduces anxiety and agitation in people with Alzheimer’s disease, helps with burns

-Lemon oil – Purifies air, promotes a positive mood

-Neroli oil – Reduces anxiety and symptoms of PMS

-Peppermint oil– Reduces tension from headaches, relieves nausea

-Roman chamomile – Reduces insomnia, relieves muscle spasms, treats menstrual cramps

-Rose – Stimulates sexual desire, reduces stress and anxiety, relieves symptoms of PMS

-Rosemary oil – Soothes sore muscles, stimulates dull skin, reduces dandruff and hair loss

-Sweet orange oil – Calms, reduces tension and anxiety

-Tea tree oil — Treats fungal infections, like athlete’s foot

-Ylang ylang oil – Relieves muscle spams, stimulates sexual desire