Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Aromatherapy (Essential Oils Therapy)

Aromatherapy (Essential Oils Therapy)

Treatment Overview

Aromatherapy, or essential oils therapy, is a complementary therapy that uses a plant's aroma-producing oils (essential oils). Essential oils are taken from a plant's flowers, leaves, stalks, bark, rind, or roots. The oils are mixed with another substance (such as oil, alcohol, or lotion) and then put on the skin, sprayed in the air, or inhaled. You can also massage the oils into the skin or pour them into bath water. Aromatherapy as used today originated in Europe and has been practiced there since the early 1900s.

There are many essential oils used in aromatherapy, including bergamot, chamomile, cedarwood, ginger, lavender, lemon, and tea tree oils.

Practitioners of aromatherapy believe that fragrances in the oils stimulate nerves in the nose. Those nerves send impulses to the part of the brain that controls memory and emotion. Depending on the type of oil, the result on the body may be calming or stimulating.

The oils are thought to interact with the body's hormones and enzymes to cause changes in blood pressure, pulse, and other body functions. Another theory suggests that the fragrance of certain oils may stimulate the body to produce pain-fighting substances.

Why It Is Used

Why It Is Used

Aromatherapy may promote relaxation and help relieve stress. It has also been used to help with anxiety, insomnia, and to ease pain during menstruation, labor, and childbirth. Therapeutic massage with essential oils may help with pain from osteoarthritis and other conditions. But there is little scientific evidence that aromatherapy effectively prevents or cures illness.

Risks

Risks

Practitioners of aromatherapy are not specially licensed in the United States. A wide range of licensed health professionals (such as massage therapists, nurses, and counselors) may have experience and training in aromatherapy. It is important to talk with your medical doctor to see whether aromatherapy may be helpful and safe for your specific health condition.

Do not swallow the oils used in aromatherapy. Many of the oils are potent and can be dangerous if taken internally (swallowed).

Some oils are dangerous for children. Some oils cause rashes. And some can interfere with a child's hormones, causing problems like abnormal breast growth. Nor should anyone use oils near the eyes or mouth, because irritation of the skin and membranes may occur.

People with certain chronic illnesses or conditions should not use aromatherapy without first consulting a doctor. These illnesses and conditions include:

  • Lung conditions such as asthma, respiratory allergies, or chronic lung disease. Oils may cause airway spasms.
  • Skin allergies. Some oils may cause skin irritation, especially in the membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Pregnancy. Some oils (such as juniper, rosemary, and sage) may cause uterine contractions.

Talk with your doctor about any complementary health practice that you would like to try or are already using. Your doctor can help you manage your health better if they know about all of your health practices.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Chronic Pain Cancer Pain Stress Management Complementary Medicine

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details