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Aromatherapy: The essentials of essential oils

Aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils to promote health and well-being, dates back thousands of years, according to some. But up until fairly recently, sound evidence-based research regarding the use of essential oils proved difficult to come by. Finally, western medical research is starting to come around, and the medical and nursing communities are beginning to discover the potential that essential oils may have in patient care delivery.

Essential oils, defined in this study as “aromatic plant essences, are volatile and fragrant substances with an oily consistency typically produced by plants,” show promising results in a variety of clinical situations. Many oils are shown to have antiviral, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal properties. This study showed the potential of certain essential oils as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of antibiotic resistant organisms. Others have shown efficacy in reducing stress and anxiety, as well as having antidepressant-like qualities. Most think of essential oils as something to inhale, but some oils are also safe to use topically, and in specific cases, through ingestion.

Essential Oils and Their Promising Uses



Citrus (Bitter Orange)






Interested in Learning More?

Visit the American Holistic Nurses Association to find comprehensive programs that the organization endorses. You can also check out books such as “Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Practice, 2nd Edition” and “Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 4e.”

By | 2020-04-06T11:06:21-04:00 January 30th, 2014|Categories: Archived|17 Comments

About the Author:

Meaghan O'Keeffe, BSN, RN
Meaghan O'Keeffe, BSN, RN, has worked in pediatric critical care and pre-operative care and enjoys working with individuals with special needs. She is passionate about writing and thrilled to write for Scrubbed In, where she gets to pay tribute to the nursing profession and help uplift those who practice every day. She has two children in preschool who refuse to stop growing and a supportive husband who works in the coffee industry and provides her with a steady stream of caffeine. She likes to laugh, and LOVES to sleep — something nurses and parents never get enough of! And like you, she's a master of multi-tasking, a sucker for suctioning and a translator of medical jargon.

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