Aromatherapy Candles for Relaxation

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Visit our shop, where you can purchase Butterfly Moments; an aromatherapy candle which combines soy and rapeseed wax with the pure essential oils of lavender, bergamot and geranium to help you to relax and unwind.

Stress is an ever-increasing ailment amongst us all, and with many of us working more than 40 hours a week as well as looking after families and children, it can be difficult to keep on top of that endless to-do list. Stress is often defined as feeling unable to cope with the pressures or demands upon us. Having relaxation time can be a really helpful aid in combating stress, but we can often get that voice in our head, telling us that we just haven’t got time! Can you remember the last time you just stopped what you were doing and took even a few minutes to just relax and concentrate on being calm and connected with yourself? We often run on auto-pilot and find it difficult to take the time to stop and take a breath. However, relaxation is really important for our physical and mental health and it’s important that we integrate it into our routine. This blog will explore the scientific evidence behind aromatherapy and relaxation, showing you which essential oils provide the best remedy.

Aromatherapy for Relaxation

Aromatherapy, through inhalation or massage, is the use of essential oils extracted from plants to improve our physical, mental or spiritual wellbeing (Segen, 1998). Aromatherapy candles offer a convenient, relaxing and effective means of benefiting from essential oils. Certain essential oils are known for their calming abilities and the effect they have on getting a restful night’s sleep. We’ll go on to explore this in more detail.

Aromatherapy has been shown to reduce the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in our bodies and help to reduce our feelings of stress. Cortisol is released in our bodies in response to fear or stress. It is part of the ‘flight or fight‘ mechanism, but when there is no actual ‘flight or fight’ cortisol levels build up in the blood and have an unpleasant effect on our body and mind. This can often make us feel stressed and anxious. One study (Atsumi & Tonosaki, 2007) tested the effect of smelling the aroma of rosemary and lavender for 5 minutes on the body’s levels of cortisol and found that both essential oils lowered the body’s levels of cortisol significantly.

In another study (Diego et al, 1998), it was found that just 3 minutes of lavender aromatherapy increased drowsiness and promoted a less depressed mood. The participants reported feeling more relaxed and completed mathematical tasks faster and more accurately than they did before aromatherapy. Another group was given rosemary aromatherapy and they too reported feeling more relaxed but also more alert. Additionally, they were found to be less anxious. This group performed better on a simple computational maths test after their aromatherapy.

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It may be that the ability of some essential oils to promote relaxation, also aids sleep. In Goel, Kim and Lao’s tests on the effect of lavender essential oil on adult sleep patterns, it was found that lavender increased the amount of deep or slow-wave sleep. Participants reported feeling much more lively the morning after being exposed to lavender, which corroborated the restorative effect of the increased deep/slow-wave sleep. These results were compared with control groups with no essential oils and plain water, and the conclusion was clear – the essential oil had a genuine effect on the subjects, allowing them a deeper and more restful sleep, meaning that they awoke feeling more energised the following morning.

Ylang ylang is also good for helping to promote a deep sleep. It decreases alertness and increases calmness (Moss et al, 2008), so it best saved for just before bedtime. Hongratanaworaki & Buchbauer (2006) found that ylang ylang decreases blood pressure and increases overall body temperature. Participants reported that they felt more calm and relaxed, so is especially beneficial to those with a stressful lifestyle who find it difficult to switch-off at home. The above research concluded that their study provided ‘some evidence for the usage of the ylang ylang oil in aromatherapy, such as causing a relief of depression and stress in humans.’

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Lavender essential oil to relax you and your children
Lavender oil is known for calming the senses, and has been shown to help relieve stress and improve sleep, not only in adults, but also in infants (Field et al, 2007), so is a good choice for aiding relaxation and sleep, even those restless little ones. The above study found that a lavender-infused bath helped infants to spend more time in deep sleep, and they also cried less than those bathing in non-lavender-infused baths. As in the above-mentioned study, the researchers also found that the stress hormone cortisol levels in both the parent and infant with the lavender-infused baths were reduced, helping to reduce stress and promote calmness.

Occupational Stress
Occupational stress affects many workers, but a study with nurses in intensive care settings has shown that even in a demanding hospital environment essential oils can be very effective (Pemberton & Turpin, 2008). It was found that after a topical application of lavender and clary sage during a typical day at work, 57.1% of participants reported feeling less stressed.

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Authentic aromatherapy
With the increased popularity of ‘green’ thinking and natural remedies in recent years, aromatherapy has become a widely used term that can be applied occasionally to products that don’t actually have any therapeutic merits and won’t give you the kind of results you may be hoping for. That’s why it’s really important to check that the product you’re buying is scented with 100% natural essential oils and not simply artificial scents manufactured to give the impression of those scents. Candles provide a convenient and effective means of benefiting from aromatherapy. Make sure that yours is made with natural vegetable wax, rather than paraffin wax. Soy wax candles are safer and kinder to the environment than paraffin wax, as well as being able to carry scent really well.

How the scents affect us
The olfactory system allows us to process chemicals in the air into distinguishable scents (see this simple breakdown of the olfactory system for more detail if you are interested). When chemicals reach our nose, they are brought up and processed by systems in our brains automatically. Inhaling certain scents therefore can be a great way to get our brains to do what we want; preferably relaxing and setting ourselves up either for a productive day or a restful night’s sleep. For further information on how aromatherapy candles work, please click here.

Summary
As you will now be aware, there are several different types of essential oils that can be used to help relieve stress and introduce a state of calm into any situation in your life. Essential oils are a natural treatment for stress and anxiety and can be used to help improve concentration, or simply to give a more restful sleep.

It can be extremely beneficial to just take a moment out of your day for yourself, to rest and reflect, and embrace the benefits of having a beautifully scented space to relax in. Take a moment to think about your daily routine. Is there a moment in your day, maybe in the evening, where you could take half an hour to light an aromatherapy candle, turn off any distractions, and just focus on yourself?

Visit our shop, where you can purchase Butterfly Moments; an aromatherapy candle which combines soy and rapeseed wax with the pure essential oils of lavender, bergamot and geranium to help you to relax and unwind.

Further Reading

NHS Choices (2015). Struggling with Stress?

Motomura, Sakuri & Yotsuya (2001). Reduction of Mental Stress with Lavender Odorant Perceptual and Motor Skills: Volume 93, Issue, pp. 713-718.

You may also be interested in the following:
Zuna shop
Aromatherapy candles for sleep
Natural Aromatherapy candles

© 2015 Zuna Naturals Ltd.

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