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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Scientists Create New Molecule to Combat Pain

Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas have created an RNA-mimicking molecule that blocks the series of pain sensitization reactions that normally follow an injury.

They believe that what they have discovered about their "decoy molecule" will pave the way for a new class of drugs that prevent pain at the outset without risk of addiction.
A study paper published in the journal Nature Communications describes how the "synthetic RNA mimic reduces pain sensitization in mice" by blocking the creation of pain-signaling proteins.
Scientists are manipulating one step of protein synthesis.
Their results indicate that local treatment with the decoy can prevent pain and inflammation brought about by a tissue injury.

Need to tackle the opioid crisis

Around a third of the United States population — which is an estimated 100 million people — is affected by chronic pain, "the primary reason Americans are on disability."
Poorly treated pain causes enormous human suffering, as well as a tremendous burden on medical care systems and our society.
Another major concern is the rapid rise in prescriptions for opioid pain drugs that has occurred in recent years, which has been accompanied by increases in accidental overdoses as well as hospital admissions for addiction to the medications.
National U.S. survey data that was collected in 2015 shows that nearly 92 million people had used prescription opioids during the previous year. This figure includes around 11.5 million people who "misused" the drugs, the majority of whom said that they had obtained them to relieve pain.

Pain relief that avoids the brain

Opioids are the "most widely used and effective" drugs for treating pain. However, they have a major disadvantage: they interact with areas of the brain that deal with reward and emotion.
The work that the researchers are doing could lead to pain drugs that do not affect the brain.
They suggest that their study shows that "development of chronic pain requires regulated local protein synthesis" at the site of injury.
The decoy molecule that they have devised acts in molecular mechanisms that involve nociceptors, which are specialized cells at the site of injury that communicate pain signals to the brain.
Following an injury, messenger RNA molecules translate code held in DNA into instructions for making proteins that signal pain.
By mimicking RNA, the decoy molecule interrupts the process that makes the proteins. Injected into the site of injury in mice, it reduced "behavioral response to pain," say the researchers.

RNA-mimicking molecule slow to degrade

When you have an injury, certain molecules are made rapidly. With this Achilles' heel in mind, so we set out to sabotage the normal series of events that produce pain at the site of an injury.

In essence, "we eliminate the potential for a pathological pain state to emerge." The new molecule that the researchers have devised also overcomes a major challenge of RNA-based medicine: that RNA compounds metabolize very quickly.
Molecules that degrade quickly in cells are not great drug candidates. "The stability of our compounds is an order of magnitude greater than unmodified RNA."
As a matter of fact, this study is the first to create a "chemically stabilized mimic to competitively inhibit RNA to disrupt RNA-protein interactions."
The researchers suggest that their findings also improve our understanding of these interactions and open up a completely "new area of science."
"The ongoing opioid crisis highlights the need for pain treatments that don't create addictions. Hopefully, this is a step in that direction."

Strength-Building Exercises Decrease Risk for All Causes of Disease

From birth to approximately 30, your muscles are growing in strength and size with little effort from you. However, once you're in your 30s you begin to experience sarcopenia, the natural loss of muscle mass and function. With inactivity you can lose as much as 5 percent of your muscle mass each decade after 30. This loss may speed up as you reach 65.
Only 23 percent of people over the age of 45 report meeting strength training recommendations. However, strength exercises are the most important type of exercise you need to stay strong and healthy as you age. 
Gaining and maintaining muscle strength is just one of the benefits. 
This form of exercise may help prevent osteoporosis, improve your balance and control, prevent injuries and improve your ability to perform day-to-day movements.
Strength exercises are an integral part of a well-rounded exercise program and are important for every age group, from children to seniors. 
Unfortunately, many ignore this aspect of exercise as they may believe a gym is required, or that strength training will create bulk. Intensity, not higher weights, can achieve beneficial changes on a molecular, chemical and hormonal level in your body that may help slow or prevent many of the diseases triggered by a sedentary lifestyle.
In fact, research has confirmed that exercise is one of the best preventive strategies you may use against many common diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Recent research now demonstrates that strength training is vital to your longevity and could add years to your life.

Strength Exercises May Reduce Risk of All-Cause Mortality

In one of the largest studies to compare mortality outcomes using different types of exercise, researchers discovered those who incorporated strength training in their routine experienced a 23 percent reduction in premature death from any cause and a 31 percent reduction in cancer related death. Researchers from the University of Sydney studied over 80,000 adults and found that promoting muscular strength may be as important as aerobic activities.

Some find strength-based exercises more intimidating or less attractive as they seem more demanding or boring. Aerobic exercise has also been the focus of many studies, demonstrating they improve executive functioning and cardiovascular fitness, improving your endurance and stamina throughout the day. However, this featured study suggests strength exercises may reduce the risk of all-cause and cancer related deaths.
The World Health Organization's (WHO) Physical Activity Guidelines for adults 18 to 64 recommends 150 minutes of aerobic activity with at least two days of strength-based exercises each week. 
In fact, public health authorities have neglected to stress the importance of strength exercises and misrepresented how active Australian citizens were as a nation.
The Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey as an example of the increased risk of disease from lack of activity Australians suffer.The report finds 53 percent of Australians are inactive. 
However, when strength-based exercise is factored into the evaluation, 85 percent of Australians fail to meet the WHO recommendations.
The message to date has just been to get moving but this study prompts a rethink about, when appropriate, expanding the kinds of exercise we are encouraging for long-term health and well-being.
Researchers also found that simple body weight exercises that may be performed at home or in any setting, were as beneficial to your health as those done at the gym using weight equipment.
This means that simple exercises you do at home with your own body weight are all you need to enjoy the benefits of a strength-based program. Interestingly, the researchers also found that adhering strictly to WHO's strength promoting guidelines was associated with a reduction in cancer related deaths, while adhering only to cardiovascular guidelines were not. 
However, engaging in both cardiovascular and strength-based exercises yielded the best results.

Cardiovascular Workouts Benefit From Simple Strength Exercises

Strength-based exercises may also help improve your athletic performance and cardiovascular workouts. Whether you enjoy jogging, rowing, biking, hiking, climbing or any other of a number of cardiovascular pursuits, building a strong strength-based foundation may help to improve your performance and reduce your risks of injury.
Endurance athletes have found the integration of resistance training helps improve their overall performance better than classic plans that focus only on aerobic endurance training.
 However, you don't have to be an endurance athlete to enjoy the benefits to your personal program. 
In a study of elderly men and women, researchers found simple bicep curls and leg presses improved aerobic capacity in older adults.
Strength training also has the added benefits of stabilizing your core muscles, those muscles around your abdomen and back, that provide balance and stability to your pelvis and lower back and help the muscles in your hips, abdomen and lower back to work in harmony. 
This helps prevent injury to your lower back and improves your overall balance, reducing the risk of falls, especially in older adults.
Balance and coordination also helps improve posture and body mechanics. Poor posture may lead to upper back pain and an increased risk of falls. Strength training may also reduce your risk of osteoporosis and minimize the risk of fracture. An estimated 8 million women and 3 million men suffer with osteoporosis, responsible for more than 2 million fractures each year. The one-year mortality rate after a hip fracture may be up to 58 percent.
Strength training also has psychological benefits, reducing the risk of depression and elevating your mood and self-esteem. Men and women enjoy the benefits of an improved body image and self-perception from toned muscles.
Resistance training also improves sleep quality necessary to repair your muscles after a good workout, as well as improving your overall health. Lack of sleep has been associated with high blood pressure, slowed reaction time, poor blood sugar control, decreased immune function and reduced memory or ability to learn.

Strength Training Has Antiaging Effects

In this short video, exercise physiologist Skyler Tanner discusses 10 biomarkers of aging over which you have control. These are measurements that demonstrate your functional age and not your chronological age, the age at which your body functions and not how old you are on the calendar. Tanner compares your lifestyle choices to compound interest.
In other words, the small changes you make today have large benefits in the years to come. Strength-based exercises have a powerful ability to help prevent cardiovascular disease, regulate glucose, reduce osteoporosis and when done correctly, can even be a cardiovascular workout. 
Each of these biomarkers of aging are positively affected by strength training and have a compelling effect on your longevity, health and aging.
Muscle mass
Bone density
Body composition
Glucose control
Aerobic capacity
Gene expression
Telomere length

Foods That Support Your Strength-Based Workouts

Your body also requires good nutrition to build strong muscles and enjoy the benefits of strength training. Some recommend increasing your protein intake drastically since muscle mass is built using protein. However, there's a vast difference between not enough and too much protein. In other words, like most things, too much of a good thing may do more harm than good.
Eating high amounts of protein may help reduce your appetite, help you shed pounds and slow the digestion of carbohydrates, thereby modulating your blood glucose levels. 
However, excess protein has powerful drawbacks as it stimulates a nutrient signaling pathway that plays a crucial role in the aging process and cancer formation. This is the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, which inhibits regeneration and cellular and mitochondrial autophagy and instead promotes growth.
When you balance your protein intake to what is needed and used for your energy output, the mTOR pathway is largely inhibited. This means it minimizes your changes of cancer growth. Your body uses protein to build muscle, but you also need other nutrients to help build strength.27
Healthy fats help you feel fuller longer, digest slowly and are important fuel for your body. Fats in your diet help absorb vitamins, promote the availability of calcium and phosphorus and are needed to form the cellular membrane of all cells. Healthy fats can be consumed from virgin coconut oil, avocados, virgin olive oils, olives and small fish such as mackerel, herring and sardines.
Whole food
Refined and processed foods sap your energy and deplete your nutrition as they are often high in carbohydrates, chemicals, additives, coloring and pesticides. High quality, organically-grown whole foods provide you with a balanced mix of nutrients your body needs to grow strong muscles.
Many exercise programs increase your risk of dehydration. Drinking plenty of fresh, pure water helps your body to remove waste products from metabolism and support muscle development.

Basic Terminology

The featured study found doing bodyweight exercises at home were enough to enjoy the benefits of strength-based exercises. Before I describe some simple exercises you can do at home, let's review some terminology:
  • Repetitions: Also called reps, this is the number that represents one complete motion of an exercise. For instance, one pushup repetition is starting at the top, going down and coming back up. As you are performing each rep stay mindful of your form, body position and going through a full range of motion.
  • Set: This is a group of reps. For instance, if you do three sets of 10 reps you'll do a total of 30 motions with a break between each 10.
How many reps you do in each set will depend on your current fitness level and your end goals. To build strength and bulk you'll want to do a lower number of reps per set with heavier weights. To improve your tone, aim for 10 to 12 reps using weight that feels difficult but not impossible by the end of the set.
Super-slow weight training is a method of high intensity exercise that accesses the maximum number of filaments to produce the movement. Aim for one set of eight to 10 reps with weight that is impossible to lift on the last rep no matter how hard you try. There are powerful benefits to using super-slow strength training that I describe in my previous article, "Super-Slow Weight Training: The Muscle-Building Workout Hardly Anyone Uses."

Simple Strength Exercises for Anyone

Strength-based exercises do not have to be complex or require a gym in order to be beneficial. In fact, the participants in the featured study experienced benefits using pushups and situps. 

Many people steer clear of resistance training as they believe this type of work is just for bodybuilders. Once you've gotten past the idea the exercises are repetitive, boring, time consuming or just for bodybuilders you'll discover a new world of exercise that is anything but boring.
Consider incorporating several different types of training to improve your fitness faster and have fun. As you read through these types of weight workouts, consider using Kaatsu training with those workouts that use added weights. Developed in Japan nearly 50 years ago, this is a type of training that utilizes lighter weights while restricting venous flow to the muscles. This combination results in greater strength with more reps using less weight.
There is compelling evidence this type of training increases growth hormone secretions and produces benefits without tissue damage that occurs with traditional high-intensity weight work. Read more about this process in my previous article, "Build Muscle Faster, Safer and Easier with Blood Flow Restriction Training."
Body weight exercises
These exercises have the benefit of being flexible, require no equipment or specific location, and can be done on your schedule. They can be done at home, traveling or even at the office and include pushups, squats and planks.
Hand weights
These are inexpensive, portable and available at most department stores. They are small enough to fit next to your couch or chair so you can do a few shoulder presses, bicep curls and triceps extensions while you're watching your favorite show.
These are dense, cast-iron weights shaped like a cannon ball with a handle. You can achieve ballistic movement and swinging motions you can't get with traditional weights that work your core and upper back. Simple, repetitive movements build power in your legs, glutes, back, upper arm and chest.
Resistance bands
These look like thick rubber bands you can use to get full range of motion through your arms and legs. They are inexpensive, light weight and portable, making them excellent travel companions.
Medicine balls/exercise balls
These are dense heavy balls that look like kick balls and come in a variety of sizes. They can weigh from a couple of pounds to 150 pounds and are thrown, swung, caught or lifted.
Water jugs
These are simple and cheap weights you can make with an empty quart or gallon jug. A gallon jug weighs about 8 pounds filled with water and 13 pounds filled with sand. The benefit of these weights is that the weight is unstable and you must use smaller muscles not often engaged to stabilize the weight in use.
Weight machines
If you have access to a gym, these machines provide stability while lifting weights that you don't get with free weights. For a beginner, the machine increases your safety while you learn the technique of lifting weights as you can focus on lifting and not maintaining correct body form with an unstable weight.
Strength classes
Like there are dance classes or aerobic classes, your local gym likely offers strength classes that incorporate body weight exercises, kettle bells and hand weights. Water classes, Pilates and Bosu are other strength-based exercise options.
Rope climbing or rock wall climbing
There is a reason these have been a staple in military training for decades. They quickly build upper body strength and core stability. The exercise targets your arms, hands, shoulders, back and abs while developing coordination and agility.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Growth in yourself eventually leads you to new opportunities, opportunities that don't come about until you grow into the person who is ready for them. 

All you have to do is focus on self-improvement—start by reading personal development articles, books, blogs and implement the things you learn into your own life.

Sex and self-confidence: Do genital enhancements help?

Within the field of plastic surgery, genital cosmetic surgery has been picking up steam for both women and men. In this article, we look at some of the options, whether they can bring added general or sexual satisfaction, and what to keep in mind when considering genital cosmetic surgery.

Recently, one news outlet reported a shocking new trend among some men in Thailand: penis bleaching. This has brought the attention back to the often controversial procedures of "enhancing" one's private parts.
Nowadays, there are plenty of genital cosmetic interventions and other genital "improvements" that have become available to both men and women who, for one reason or another, may feel dissatisfied with their nether regions.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) 2016 statistics for plastic surgery, the demand for labiaplasties, or interventions that alter the size and shape of the inner or outer labia, went up by 39 percent in 2016 compared with 2015.
Men are also fans of aesthetic interventions, making up 8 percent of all those who seek cosmetic procedures in the United States, say the ASPS. Worldwide, more than 8,000 penis enlargement procedures take place annually, state the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

What kinds of genital "update" are available, and why do we choose them? Also, are they likely to improve our sense of self-satisfaction and well-being?
Below, we tackle these questions and give you an overview of genital cosmetic surgery, and what you should keep in mind before you go under the knife.

Female genital cosmetic surgery

Women have a choice of genital enhancement or rejuvenation procedures, some of which focus on making their private parts look aesthetically pleasing or feel more comfortable, while others aim to help women achieve improved satisfaction under the sheets.


Labiaplasty is probably the best-known genital cosmetic intervention for women. In it, the size of one or both of the inner labia — the "lips" flanking the vaginal opening — is reduced.
This is usually done when one labium is visibly longer than the other one and is aesthetically unpleasing, or when the size of one or both of the labia makes sex or other physical activities uncomfortable or painful due to excessive tugging and twisting of the skin. 
According to plastic surgeons most women who come to see them about a genital cosmetic procedure "present because of functional issues such as discomfort with exercise, horse riding, cycling, and yoga."
"Certain types of clothes, underwear, and swimwear may also be uncomfortable [to them]. A proportion of these patients may also mention aesthetic concerns in concert with their physical symptoms."
According to the ASPS, a labiaplasty costs approximately $2,730, on average, in the U.S.
Sometimes, labiaplasties are accompanied by a clitoral hood reduction procedure — though this type of intervention can also be carried out separately — which involves reducing the folds of skin that "sheathe" the clitoris.
This is can be done purely to improve appearance following a labiaplasty or to improve clitoral sensitivity, though the BAAPS note that "there is little information on outcome, other than anecdotal."
Women may also opt for an intervention to reduce their labia majora (labia majoraplasty), which are the outer "flaps" of skin that cover the labia minora.
As with the labia minora, some women may feel discomfort from the tugging and twisting of the labia major experienced during various physical activities, or they may simply be uncomfortable with their physical aspect.

Monsplasty and vaginal tightening

Another type of cosmetic intervention offered in some clinics is the monsplasty, or the reduction in size of the mons pubis, which is the area just under the belly and above the labia majora. This part of the female body forms a natural protuberance, but some women may feel uncomfortable about its size.
In these cases, liposuction is often performed to remove excess fat from that area, and sometimes the removal of some skin is also necessary.
Vaginal tightening, or vaginoplasty, is a "rejuvenation" procedure in which a woman's vagina is tightened, often required by women after having gone through natural childbirth, which can cause the vagina to become more stretched.
Vaginoplasty can involve "going under the knife," though sometimes noninvasive procedures such as laser surgery are also available. 
This type of intervention has also been shown to help with stress urinary incontinence.

More controversial procedures

Some "restorative" or "enhancing" genital procedures for women have been the target of much more controversy than others. One such example is that of hymen reconstruction surgery, an intervention that aims to "repair" a ruptured hymen, the thin membrane that lines the vaginal opening.
The hymen can occasionally rupture during sexual intercourse or even due to strenuous physical exercise, which does not usually affect gynecological health. However, its traditional association with virginity has led to many debates about the legitimacy of hymen repair procedures.

And more recently, injections that claim to boost female sexual satisfaction, called "O-shots" and "G-shots," have also attracted much attention.
O-shots — short for "orgasm shots" — are interventions wherein platelet-rich plasma, derived from a person's own blood, is injected into the clitoris and neighboring vaginal area. This is supposed to boost clitoral sensitivity, allegedly making women more likely to experience "mind-blowing" orgasms.
Similarly, G-shots — short for "G-spot shots" — aim to enlarge the surface area of the controversial and elusive G-spot with the same goal of enhancing sexual gratification.
But in speaking to experts, we have learned that the effectiveness of these procedures relies on anecdotal evidence, and no conclusive studies have yet been conducted to confirm success rate.
"These particular procedures are considered somewhat controversial at the present time and many doctors feel their claims do not have merit. [...] whilst there are anecdotal reports of some benefits, it is agreed that well-designed scientific studies are required to confirm the efficacy of these concepts."

Basic Aromatherapy to Help Balance and Calm


  • Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils or other aromatic plant compounds for healing and wellness
  • Ancient Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures used essential oils in cosmetics, perfumes and drugs for purposes ranging from spiritual to therapeutic
  • Accumulating research backs up aromatherapy’s many potential uses and benefits for pain relief, depression, dementia, improved sleep and more

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils or other aromatic plant compounds for healing and wellness. Such oils may be inhaled, applied to the skin and in some cases even taken orally under professional guidance for a variety of purposes intended to balance your mind, body and spirit.

“Aromatherapy seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process,” according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), which states that the term “aromatherapie” was coined by Rene-Maurice Gattefossé, a French perfumer and chemist, in 1937.
It’s said that Gattefossé first became interested in essential oils when he healed a burn on his hand using lavender oil, which caused him to look into its uses for treating wounds, skin infections and even gangrene among soldiers during World War I. 
In Gattefossé’s book on the topic, he described using essential oils for many therapeutic purposes, a practice that has been done for close to 6,000 years.
Many ancient cultures, including the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used essential oils in cosmetics, perfumes and drugs for purposes ranging from spiritual to therapeutic. 
In the modern day, aromatherapy is used in health care settings, health spas and homes, both by professional aromatherapists and amateurs, while accumulating research backs up its many potential uses and benefits.

What Are Essential Oils?

Aromatherapy is based on the use of essential oils, which are also known as volatile oils. They’re typically the fragrant essences from the plant, which are extracted into essential oils. Specifically, according to the Physician Data Query Aromatherapy and Essential Oils information summary:
“These essences are made in special plant cells, often under the surface of leaves, bark or peel, using energy from the sun and elements from the air, soil and water. If the plant is crushed, the essence and its unique fragrance are released … [Essential oils] may be distilled with steam and/or water, or mechanically pressed. Essential oils that are made by processes that modify their chemistry are not considered true essential oils.
… Each plant's essential oil has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it is absorbed and how it is used by the body. Even the essential oils from varieties of the same plant species may have chemical compositions different from each other. The same applies to plants that are grown or harvested in different ways or locations.”

Aromatherapy Benefits That May Surprise You

Many people enjoy diffusing their favorite essential oils into their home’s air as a way to relax and relieve stress. 
Others may add them to their massage oil or bathwater, or use them in homemade cleaning supplies or lotions. The uses of aromatherapy are virtually endless, but there are a few notable benefits worth noting. 
For instance, something as simple as receiving a massage with a blended essential oil for four weeks led to significant improvements in both quality of life and sleep quality in career women.
In addition, aromatherapy massage has been found to enhance the sleep quality of patients in a surgical intensive care unit and resulted in some positive changes in diastolic blood pressure. Other research suggests aromatherapy may be beneficial for the following conditions:
Depression and Anxiety
A study on rats showed that inhaling Roman chamomile essential oil for two weeks reduced depressive-like behaviors. 
A Korean study also found that lavender reduced both insomnia and depression in female college students while research published in Phytomedicine found that an orally administered lavender oil preparation was as effective as the drug Lorazepam for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. 
Other research has concluded the essential oil of jasmine can also uplift mood and counteract symptoms of depression.
Agitation and other behavioral and quality-of-life issues may be improved via the use of aromatherapy in people with dementia. 
In one study, essential oils were placed nightly on towels around the patients’ pillows, which resulted in significantly longer total sleep time, increased sustained sleep and reduced early morning awakening. 
Another study found diffusing lavender essential oil twice daily in an adult facility for patients with dementia reduced the frequency of agitation in elderly patients.
Improved Vital Signs During Surgery
In a study on patients undergoing open heart surgery, a cotton swab containing lavender essential oil was placed in the patients’ oxygen mask for 10 minutes. The aromatherapy led to significant reductions in blood pressure and heart rate, with researchers concluding it could be “used as an independent nursing intervention in stabilizing mentioned vital signs.”
Pain Relief
Aromatherapy may relieve pain from rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, headaches, needle insertion and more, even leading to reduced usage of pain medications. Lavender aromatherapy has also been found to reduce pain from menstrual cramps.

Beyond this, aromatherapy plays a positive role in sleep among adults as well as children, including those with autism. It also may help to boost memory, disrupt cravings and reduce systemic inflammation and stress.

What Are the Best Essential Oils for Calming or Uplifting?

The effects of essential oils range from stimulating to promote alertness to calming to encourage sleep and relaxation. If your goal is to invoke a sense of balance, harmony and calm, the following essential oils may be a good choice:
Rose-scented geranium
On the other hand, if you’re looking to feel energized and uplifted, consider essential oils such as peppermint, grapefruit, lemon, neroli and wild orange. In many cases, essential oils are multitaskers, however, which means the same oil may exert both calming and uplifting effects. 
The following chart gives you an overview of different essential oils that are useful for different conditions. For more information, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Herbal Oils.
ComplaintEssential Oils
Lavender, lemon, bergamot, peppermint, vetiver, pine and ylang ylang
Lavender, chamomile, jasmine, benzoin, neroli, rose, sandalwood, sweet marjoram and ylang ylang (avoid lemon, which has an invigorating effect)
Lavender, bergamot, rose, clary sage, lemon, Roman chamomile, orange, sandalwood, rose-scented geranium and pine
Lavender, chamomile, clary sage, juniper, eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, lavender and green apple (especially for migraines)
Nausea and vomiting
Mint, ginger, lemon, orange, ginger, dill, fennel, chamomile, clary sage and lavender
Memory and attention
Sage, peppermint and cinnamon
Low energy
Black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, angelica, jasmine, tea tree, rosemary, sage and citrus
Depending on your needs, the following essential oils may also be useful to have on hand:18
Basil, which may increase concentration and relieve headaches (do not use basil essential oil during pregnancy)
Black pepper, which is useful for muscle aches and pains and bruises
Citronella, which can be used as an insect repellant
Clove, which has antimicrobial and antifungal properties and may act as a pain reliever when applied topically
Rosemary, which may promote hair growth and support memory
Tea tree, which has antimicrobial, antiseptic and disinfectant properties
Thyme, for reducing fatigue
Yarrow, which may relieve symptoms of cold and flu

Aromatherapy Basics: How to Get Started

Many people dip their toes into the field of aromatherapy by choosing a few essential oils with scents that appeal to them. You can experiment by diffusing the oils in your home or adding a couple of drops to a natural massage oil. Some of the most common ways to use essential oils include:
  • Massaging them (blended with a carrier oil) into your skin
  • Adding them to bathwater
  • Using them in a hot compress
  • Heating them in a diffuser
  • Rubbing a drop onto pulse points in lieu of perfume
Essential oils are extremely concentrated, so a little goes a long way. For instance, more than 200 pounds of lavender flowers may be used to make 1 pound of essential oil,19 so use them sparingly.

In addition, certain oils may be dangerous for some people, such as those with epilepsy, certain allergies or during pregnancy, so it’s best to seek the advice of a professional aromatherapist. Certain essential oils can also cause photosensitization (making your skin more sensitive to the sun) or may interact with medications you may be taking.
An aromatherapist may guide you to inhale essential oils or apply diluted oils to your skin. Most will also recommend ways for you to safely and effectively use aromatherapy at home. 
The National Association of Holistic Therapy has a database of qualified aromatherapists to help you find one in your area. 
As for how essential oils work, it’s likely through multiple mechanisms, as noted by the University of Maryland Medical Center:
“Some experts believe our sense of smell may play a role. The ‘smell’ receptors in your nose communicate with parts of your brain (the amygdala and hippocampus) that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories.
When you breathe in essential oil molecules, some researchers believe they stimulate these parts of your brain and influence physical, emotional and mental health. For example, scientists believe lavender stimulates the activity of brain cells in the amygdala similar to the way some sedative medications work. Other researchers think that molecules from essential oils may interact in the blood with hormones or enzymes.”

Choosing High-Quality Oils

The effectiveness of aromatherapy depends on the quality of the essential oil, and all are not created equal. Low-grade oils may lack the same therapeutic properties of higher-grade oils, and the former may also be diluted with cheaper oils or even toxic additives.
Be sure to avoid oils labeled “fragrance” or “perfume” oil, as these are typically not 100 percent essential oils. In addition, when evaluating essential oils be sure to look for plants grown in their indigenous regions, which tend to be healthier, and the correct species of plant (the botanical name should be clearly labeled).
The oils should be cold-pressed or steam distilled, not distracted with solvents, and the oils should be safe for topical use when mixed with a carrier oil. 
Remember, again, that a little goes a long way, so in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil you’ll typically only need to add one to three drops of essential oil. 
You may try a single oil or a blend of complementary oils, such as lavender and peppermint, clove and orange, or lemon and eucalyptus.
Once you determine your favorite oils and oil blends, you can get creative using them around your home — in your body creams and shampoo, diffused for increased focus or stress relief, or even added to your laundry via wool dryer balls. 
You will find the uses for aromatherapy are as varied as the varieties, and the sky’s the limit in terms of their ability to improve your quality of life and well-being.