By Lauren Edwards • Published: August 5th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Scented candles, essential oils, scented bath salts.

They all invoke the idea of calmness and tranquility, and many people pay a pretty penny for aromatherapy products they believe will relax them.

Unfortunately, researchers at Ohio State University now say these products may smell great, but they don’t actually have any real physical effect.

They published their findings recently in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Their study tested lemon and lavender, two of the most popular aromatherapy scents, to find out if they actually caused any kind of relaxation response. Researchers evaluated fifty-six men and women over a two-year period. They discovered that while these scents can boost your mood, they don’t change what’s actually going on inside your body.

Study participants were exposed to “stressors” such as icy water while having a scent-soaked cotton ball taped under their noses. Researchers found no physiological changes, even when participants were told what pleasurable side effects to expect from the scents.

About a third of the study participants truly believed in the power of aromatherapy, and even they didn’t have the physiological changes they thought to be associated with such soothing scents.

Even though researchers didn’t prove that any physical changes take place, the mere fact that the products yield some degree of mental relaxation is likely enough to keep the aromatherapy market in business.

After all, if it makes you feel more relaxed, lighting a scented candle or soaking in an aromatic bath just might be worth it.