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It’s Good Housekeeping’s 17th anniversary, and mommies, it’s your month, too! Enjoy meaty reads on everything relevant to you—from deliciously simple cake recipes to stories of compassion during Pope Francis’s visit.
The array of luscious aromatherapy oils in your favorite spa creates a sense of peace and relaxation, but aside from doing wonders to your nose, they can also do wonders to your heart, as a recent study on ScienceDaily.com has confirmed that these scents have positive effects on your cardiovascular system. There’s one catch though--the effects only last if you’re exposed to them for less than an hour.
The study, which was done in Taipei, Taiwan, had a hundred young and healthy men and women volunteers who were exposed to vapors of different aromatherapy oils three times a week for two hours in a small enclosed room. During the trial, researchers monitored each person’s resting heart rate, systolic blood pressure (SBP), and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in all aromatic oils were also measured.
After taking into account ages, body mass indexes, and other physical factors into consideration, researchers found that 15 to 60-minute exposures to essential oils reduced heart rate and blood pressure, but exposure for more than an hour elevated them.
Although aromatherapy oils have been known to reduce tension, investigator Dr. Kai-Jen Chuang from Taipei Medical University explains that there are some studies that have shown that inhaling too much aromatherapy oil vapor may in fact set off attacks of asthma. Vapors trigger an increase in levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein and oxidative stress marker 8-OHdG, which may lead to breathing problems and increased cardiovascular stress.
This isn’t to say that you need to quit going to the spa. The trick is to take everything in moderation. Whole day spa sessions are great, but try to space the times when you visit. This way, it’s an activity you can look forward to with pleasant anticipation, and you won’t even need to worry about making your lungs and heart work overtime.
(Photo by Carlos Mejia Greene via Flickr Creative Commons)