Aromatherapy and Mental Health

Young people mental health concept with lavender oil bottle and flowers
© Pikisuperstar /

The sense of smell is a remarkable gift to human beings. Various aromas affect our emotions, evoke memories, unleash desires, and can help us feel calm, comfortable and safe. Aromatherapy is a natural way to excite our sense of smell and to improve our psychological well-being. For example, the smell of lavender can be calming to the nerves, and peppermint can stimulate the mind and boost energy levels.

The practice of aromatherapy dates back as far as 4000 BC, when the ancient Egyptians produced medicine, embalming agents, perfumes and cosmetics with the use of scented oils. Chinese, Indian, Greek and Roman civilizations also made use of scented oils in therapeutic, spiritual, hygienic and ritualistic activities. In the 5th century BC, the Greek physician Hippocrates taught and promoted the health benefits of aromatic oils.

For thousands of years, we have utilized herbs for their medicinal and aromatic properties; perfumes being important in ritual life, incense being burned in temples and used for purification, for example, the symbolism of fragrance being a powerful religious tool.

Essential oils extracted from aromatic plants can be used in our everyday lives so that we may benefit from the properties of certain plants. Aromatherapy can be used to treat mental health-related symptoms such as anxiety, stress, depression, insomnia as well as migraine and anger.

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Dr Avinash De Sousa is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist based in Mumbai. He is the Founder of the Global Society for Digital Psychology and the Founder-Trustee of the Desousa Foundation.

Prafulla Bhat is a Home Gardener and Entrepreneur from Mumbai.