Study shows aromatherapy with rose essential oil can help relieve stress naturally

Aromatherapy is a centuries-old medicinal practice that was widely used by various cultures around the world long before the advent of modern medicine. Back when people relied solely on plants to treat their ailments, ancient healers learned how to extract essential oils from herbs and resins and discovered several uses for these valuable natural products.

In ancient Egypt, essential oils became a part of religious rituals and healing practices, with some historical texts recording the therapeutic effects of inhaling different fragrances. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates — considered to be the father of modern medicine — strongly promoted the benefits of aromatic baths and scented massages, believing them to be the key to maintaining good health.

Ancient Chinese and Indian healers also advocated the use of aromatherapy for the same medicinal purposes — i.e., soothing the skin, relaxing the mind, promoting sleep and protecting the body from diseases. Records suggest that they mostly derived essential oils from rose and calamus and used them for medicinal massages.

Today, rose essential oil is still as valuable therapeutically as it was in ancient times. In fact, a recent study by Iranian researchers supports the benefits of aromatherapy using rose essential oil for relieving job-related stress. The researchers believe that aromatherapy is an equally effective and more convenient alternative to other natural stress therapies, such as acupuncture, yoga and meditation.

Inhaling rose oil found to reduce stress among nurses

According to the Iranian study, a high percentage of nurses suffer from job stress and related psychological problems. This is why the researchers recruited 118 nurses who are actively working in hospitals to test the effects of aromatherapy on their job-related stress levels. The chosen essential oils for the experiment were rose and lavender essential oils with sesame oil as the placebo.

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For four weeks, the researchers gave the participants 0.5 milliliters (mL) of either one of the three oils in a vial and asked them to clip it on their shirts for two hours every day. They then asked the participants to answer questionnaires about their stress levels at the beginning of the trial, after two weeks and at the end of the trial (fourth week).

The researchers reported that aromatherapy had no significant impact on the nurses’ stress levels after two weeks. But after four weeks, the nurses given rose essential oil experienced a significant reduction in their stress levels, with their stress scores plummeting by 13 percent (from 85 to 74) on average. Based on the scale used in the study, a score between 69 to 103 signifies moderate stress. (Related: The best adaptogenic herbs for managing stress.)

In comparison, the placebo group only saw a two percent reduction in their stress scores (down from 88 to 86). The lavender group, meanwhile, saw their stress scores drop from 89 to 80 at the end of the trial. While this reduction is also considerable, the researchers noted that it is not statistically significant when compared with the placebo group.

It is worth noting that both rose and lavender oils are known for their ability to help lower stress and boost sleep quality, so lavender oil’s effects were as expected. But looking at the results of the study, it appears that rose essential oil has a stronger impact on job-related stress than lavender. Fortunately, both oils are a great match in terms of scent and chemical properties, so you can enjoy rose oil’s stress-relieving effects and lavender’s relaxing effects if you combine both.

“Rose scent for two hours a day and during a long period of time effectively reduced job stress among the nurses,” the researchers wrote in their report. “Considering that job stress in both intervention groups decreased over time, the effect of aromatherapy can be cumulative and augmented over time with continued use.” (Related: Aromatherapy basics: 9 Popular essential oils to use for better health.)

Based on their findings, the researchers concluded that aromatherapy can be used by nurses as a safe and non-pharmacologic method to improve their own comfort at the workplace. They believe that inhaling rose essential oil can reduce nurses’ overreliance on pharmaceutical medications for stress relief (e.g., benzodiazepenes, SSRIs, etc.) which have been associated with numerous unpleasant side effects.

Other clinical uses of rose essential oil

Rose oil is a versatile natural medicine, so don’t limit yourself in terms of its uses. According to a study by Japanese researchers, using rose essential oil to massage your neck and shoulders can also help reduce job-related stress and/or anxiety and improve sleep quality. In fact, in an experiment similar to the Iranian study, the researchers found that rose essential oil also exhibits antioxidant effects, suggesting that it can help protect against oxidative stress.

According to a study published in the journal Scientia Horticulturae, essential oil derived from the species Rosa x damascena, commonly known as Damask rose or Iranian rose, is particularly high in antioxidant components. These include phenolic compounds, flavonoids, carotenoids and anthocyanins, all of which are known for their high antioxidant activities. Some of these compounds are also responsible for rose essential oil’s antibacterial and antifungal properties.

In another study published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, researchers reviewed the results of multiple clinical trials involving the use of Damask rose oil and Provence rose (Rosa x centifolia) oil for aromatherapy. They found that aside from having anti-anxiety and relaxing effects, rose essential oil can also help with sexual dysfunction and provides pain relief. A separate study also suggested that inhaling rose essential oil can help relieve pain caused by dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).

Rose essential oil has also proven itself useful in hospital settings. According to a study published in Annals of Medicine & Surgery, aromatherapy using rose essential oil can help cancer patients who are suffering from the adverse effects of chemotherapy. The study reported that inhaling rose essential oil greatly reduces the severity of nausea and vomiting caused by the said treatment, suggesting that rose essential oil can reduce cancer patients’ reliance on anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medications.

Pregnant mothers can also benefit from using rose essential oil. In a study published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine, researchers asked first-time mothers who are about to give birth to inhale Damask rose essential oil in 30-minute intervals. They found that aromatherapy with rose essential oil helped reduce the severity of pain and anxiety in the would-be mothers during the first stage of labor. This finding shows that rose essential oil is a useful and effective natural remedy that can be used not just at home but also in clinical practice. (Related: The benefits of aromatherapy with Damask rose essential oil for first-time mothers.)

Essential oils are some of the most potent natural medicines known to man. Versatile and teeming with beneficial properties, they can be useful in various situations and certainly deserve a spot in your medicine cabinet. Find out more about essential oils and their many uses at

Watch this video to learn more about rose oil, its benefits, uses, dose and side effects.

This video is from the Holistic Herbalist channel on

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