What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for a therapeutic purpose. It’s a holistic therapy that can help promote and maintain health and vitality, but it is not meant to replace medical advice or care.

St. Vincent offers aromatherapy as part of our holistic patient care. It’s an Integrative Therapy approach that uses a combination of techniques to re-energize, relieve stress and help you heal more quickly.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are steam distillates obtained from various aromatic plants. It is important to note that essential oils are not the same as fragrance oils, which are found in perfume. Essential oils are pure, natural plant extracts that have been found to provide physical and psychological benefits. On the other hand, fragrance oils contain synthetic chemicals and are not known to provide therapeutic health benefits.

How are essential oils used?

Inhalation. There are two good options when using essential oils for inhalation. They are to use a room spray with water-diluted essential oils, or to do direct inhalation. For the latter option, place 1-2 drops of your preferred essential oil on a cotton ball or gauze pad, and breath in the aroma with slow, full breaths.

Massage. You can mix 1-4 drops of essential oils per teaspoon with an unscented lotion. Then you can use this lotion to massage the body.

Compress. Use 2-8 drops of essential oil per two ounces of warm or cool water. Soak a piece of cloth in the water and essential oil mixture, and lay it on the affected area.

Bath. Essential oils can be used in a bath in several ways. You can mix essential oils directly into your bath water with whole milk or cream and/or one cup of Epsom salts. You can use this same method with a hand or foot bath, and also with a sitz bath. Soak anywhere from 10-30 minutes for great results.

Topical. When using essential oils topically, always dilute them. You can do this with unscented lotion or with a carrier oil. Never use more that four drops of essential oil per teaspoon of lotion or carrier oil. Popular carrier oils include grape seed, sweet almond, jojoba or coconut oils.

Remember: always dilute essential oils and never place them directly on the skin. Avoid getting essential oils near your eyes. Do not take them orally as they are for external use only. Essential oils can be highly flammable. Be sure to store your essential oils at room temperature away from sunlight. Keep them away from children.

What are the most popular essential oils?

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
bergemotBergamot is uplifting and refreshing. It is known to reduce anxiety and to promote relaxation and sleep, while also relieving tension headaches and deodorizing the air.




Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint is a refreshing essential oil that reduces nausea, relieves headaches and reduces appetite. It may have other benefits that include helping concentration, reducing mental fatigue, relieving muscle/joint pain and reducing sinus congestion inflammation.


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
lavenderLavender is good for stress reduction, relaxation, sleep, relieving muscular aches, improving many skin conditions and healing burns/wounds.


Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)
gingerGinger is known for its abilities to relieve nausea, decrease joint edema, help alleviate muscle fatigue, lessen arthritis pain and to have various anti-inflammatory effects.


Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
teatreeTea Tree is great for relieving a stuffy nose, helping with congestion and eliminating nail fungus. It’s also useful against cold sores, insect bites, acne, athletes foot and can be used as an antiseptic.


Mandarin (Citrus deliciosa)
mandarinMandarin has calming and uplifting effects, promotes stress reduction, helps with relaxation and sleep, relieves nausea, and freshen and deodorizes the air.




St. Vincent Women’s offers Integrative Therapy as a part of our holistic approach to patient care and healing environment. Integrative Therapy uses a combination of techniques to re-energize, relieve stress, and help you heal more quickly. Techniques include light massage for hands and feet, breathing techniques for relaxation, clinical aromatherapy and the labyrinth. Learn more about our Integrative Therapy program.

This program is made possible by the generosity of the St. Vincent Foundation. Essential Oils are available for purchase at the following locations: St. Vincent Women’s Hospital, St. Vincent Women’s Health Boutique and our online health boutique store.

St. Vincent Women’s Hospital
8111 Township Line Road
Indianapolis, IN 46260
St. Vincent Women’s Health Boutique, Entrance 3
13450 North Meridian St., Suite 140
Carmel, IN 46032  (317) 582-8080
Open Monday – Friday
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.