Essential oil

New research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology suggests that the smells of certain aromatic essential oils may have immediate short-term benefits on helping to reduce the risk of certain types of cardiovascular diseases.

The research was conducted in Taipei, Taiwan throughout a number of holistic spa and health care centers by a team from the Taipei Medical University in Taiwan. One hundred spa workers were regularly exposed to vapors from bergamot essential oil for a two-hour period. Essential oils are made from botanicals, such as fruits, leaves, flowers, barks and resins. They are highly concentrated essences, containing powerful therapeutic benefits that can alter mood, improve circulation, digestion and boost immune function. Bergamot comes from a citrus fruit commonly found as the aromatic flavoring in Earl Grey tea.

The research team measured several biological functions including resting heart rate and blood pressure levels during and after exposure to the oil. Also measured were the oil’s volatile organic compounds that spread out into the contained room during the time. The researchers noted that the VOC levels in the rooms showed a significant correlation to decreased heart rate and blood pressure during exposure periods of between 15 and 60 minutes, adjusted for age, sex, body mass index and other factors. Participants that were exposed to the essential oil vapors for longer periods of time, between one to two hours, actually showed an increase to baseline blood pressure and heart rate, in effect, becoming a risk increase factor and potentially harmful to cardiovascular health, the researchers reported.

But, at monitored, measured exposure levels, the research teams noted the benefits to reducing stress levels as well as heart and blood pressure rates. Individuals using aromatherapy, particularly those with cardiovascular issues, may want to monitor exposure and limit time to one hour or less.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Nomadic Lass