Can breathing oils and herbs aid calm and well-being?

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The Claim: Breathing a mist of essential oils through a device that resembles an e-cigarette, or organic herb extracts through a refillable vaporizer, can promote calm and well-being, companies say.

The Verdict: There is at least preliminary scientific evidence for positive effects of many of the essential oils and herbs in the new blends. The aroma of lavender essential oils, for example, has been found to calm people before a medical procedure. However, the bulk of the research has been on ingesting the herbs and oils, not breathing them.

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“If something works in a pill form, does it work in an inhaled vapor type form? The answer is, it’s not known,” says Stephen W. Bent, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Brent says a 2006 review article he wrote found valerian root when ingested by mouth “may improve” sleep quality.

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