Sweet-smelling therapy soothes soul

Several tiny flickering flames dimly light the room.

Maxwell plays softly while the mind relaxes. The sweet smell of lavender fills the air.

Emanating from the aromatherapy candles on the dresser and nightstand, the fragrance seems to soothe the soul… but is it really the aromatherapy at work or is it the ambiance?

Aromatherapy has become the newest craze. One can find a wide range of products from shower gel to candles, and from lotion to air freshener. But is there any truth to the tale of the healing powers of this latest fad?

According to Rebecca Quillin, assistant manager at The Body Shop, a store that specializes in aromatherapy products, the special ingredient is essential oils.

Essential oils are pure oil extracts from various plants. They are pressed from the plant, and contain no alcohol or other ingredients.

They can either be purchased in pure oil form or as the main ingredient in shower gels, lotions, candles, etc.

Quillin attested to the power of the products.

“There is no scientific proof,” she said. “I don’t even know if that can be done. But they really do work; I have customers that will swear by it.”

There are many different oils to be found on the market.

Each one is said to have a specific effect on the user. For example citrus oils are supposed to have an energizing and invigorating power. Whereas lavender is most popular because of it’s calming effects.

But could the effectiveness of these products be attributed to the mood that is created by the burning of candles, or perhaps the hyped up image that advertising has given the product? Aromatherapy is expected to work before even trying the product.

“Again, there is no scientific way to prove it. Of course if you don’t think that something is going to work it probably won’t,” she said. “But like I said, I have customers that will swear by these products.

“There are several parents that come and buy lavender for their children. They use it as an alternative to medications such as Ritalin, and they really work.”

Ritalin is a medication used to control the hyperactivity of children with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

Salathiel Jones, 22, a senior elementary education student from St. Petersburg, was skeptical.

“I don’t believe in that stuff. I just can’t see some candles or lotion having that much effect on the way I feel. How can they calm you down or hype you up?” Jones said.

“I just think that they help to set the mood for whatever it is you are trying to do, whether it be relaxing or getting hype.”

However, Nicole Jackson, 20, a third year business administration student from Chapel Hill, N.C., voiced her approval.

“I really think that aromatherapy works. It helps me relax and clear my mind,” Jackson said. “In fact, I take an aromatherapy bath three times a week to help relieve my stress.”

Quillin cautioned that not all products that claim to be aromatherapy really are therapeutic.

“A lot of people have aromatherapy products. But to be true aromatherapy it has to come in a dark bottle,” she said. “Sunlight and artificial lights deteriorate the effectiveness of the essential oil.”

So although there are no controlled scientific experiments or recorded case studies with lots of data to validate its effectiveness, there may be reason to believe in aromatherapy.

Some people have really found the essential oils and the various products that contain them to be useful.