• Denine Rogers

Aromatherapy in the Management of Psychiatric Disorders

Individuals with psychiatric disorders are often treated with psychotherapeutic agents drugs, but other treatment options exist. One safe and effective adjunct for treatment of psychiatric disorders are aromatherapy. Specific essential oils when applied dermally or inhaled enters the blood stream exerts measurable psychological effects (Perry & Perry 2006). Aromatherapy can provide treatment for psychiatric disorders that is free of the adverse effects associated with conventional drugs (Perry & Perry 2006). Essential oils used to reduce anxiety, improve mood, and reduce stress include bergamot, lemon, clary sage, lavender, Roman chamomile, geranium, rose otto, sandalwood, and jasmine (Butje, Repede, & Shattell 2008). Olfactory stimulation causes immediate physiological changes in blood pressure, muscle tension, pupil size,skin temperature, skin blood flow, electrodermal activity, heart rate, brain wave patterns, and sleep/arousal states (Butje, Repede, & Shattell 2008). Inhaled odors will activate the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, endorphins, and norepinephrine in the hypothalamic-pituitary axis and modulate neuroreceptors in the immune system, altering mood, reducing anxiety, and interrupting the stress response (Butje, Repede, & Shattell 2008). When the use of essential oils and it's individual constituents reach the blood, cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the central nervous system following inhalation and dermal application (Perry & Perry 2006).

In one abstract there is some evidence that massage is beneficial in reducing anxiety, depression and stress, and that aromatherapy can also lead to improvements in anxiety, depression and sleep patterns, independent of administration through massage (Brownsword & Baker 2008). Aromatherapy and massage maybe a benefit to users of forensic psychiatric services and represent strategies by which users could manage their own experiences of mental distress and gain a greater sense of control, thought to be of central importance in the process of recovery (Brownsword & Baker 2008).

Perry and Perry (2006) found that treatment with lavender or Melissa for agitation

in dementia compared favorably with the use of commonly prescribed antipsychotic drugs. They confirm that in vitro and in vivo studies in animals show that certain essential oils have anxiolytic, sedative and anticonvulsant actions or central nervous system stimulant effects relevant to symptoms such as agitation, sleeplessness, anxiety, and lethargy which are common symptoms of many mental disorders.

In an abstract article by Butje, Repede, & Shattell (2008) reported a study that shown the effects of nine essential oils on anxiety and depression in 32 acute care psychiatric patients. The study compared levels of depression and anxiety in a control group receiving the massage with the carrier oil and an experimental group receiving essential oils diluted in carrier oil during a massage. The group receiving the massage with essential oils showed significantly more improvement in scores on depression, anxiety, and severity of emotional symptoms than did those receiving massage alone.

The accessibility, low cost, and low side effect profile make aromatherapy attractive for managing emotional distress and psychiatric disorders (Butje, Repede, & Shattell 2008). As the popularity of the usage of essential oils rises, there will be a tremendous need for further research in this area of aromatherapy. Currently, there is only limited evidence for the efficacy of pure aromatherapy for the treatment of specific mental disorders (Van Der Watt & Janca 2008).


Brownsword, A & Baker, E. (2008). Can massage and aromatherapy benefit the users of forensic psychiatric services? In The British Journal of Forensic Practice (vol. 10:1 p. 12-16). Bingley, United Kingdom: Pier Professional Ltd. http://search.proquest.com/docview/213072269?accountid=158302

Butje, A., Repede, E., & Shattell, M., (2008). Healing Scents: An Overview of Clinical Aromatherapy for Emotional Distress. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services (vol 46:10, p. 46-52). Thorofare, United States: Slack Incorporated. http://search.proquest.com/docview/225537754?accountid=158302

Perry, N. & Perry, E. (2006) Aromatherapy in the Management of Psychiatric Disorders. CNS Drug 2006. (20:4 p. 257-280) Tyne, United Kingdom: Aids Data Information BV

Van Der Watt, G. & Janca, A. (2008) Aromatherapy in nursing and mental health care. Contemporary Nurse, (30:1 p. 69–75) Maleny, United Kingdom: Taylor & Francis Ltd. http://search.proquest.com/docview/203159502?accountid=158302

The Summer 2018 issue of Howard University Magazine has mention yours truly, Denine Rogers for being selected as one of the top 10 dietitians who are making a difference from Today's Dietitian Magazine! So honored and thankful by this from Today's Dietitian Magazine and for Howard University Magazine mentioning me in this Summer Issue!

#HowardUniversityMagazine #DenineRogers #LivingHealthy #Summer2018 #Dietitian #psychiatricdisorders #aromatherapy #emotionaldistress #depression #anxiety #TodaysDietitianMagazine