Lilacs are a flowering plant known for their plentiful purple petals and fragrant scent. In the past, lilacs were used to treat certain ailments, although the medical use of these flowers is no longer commonly practiced. Those who practice aromatherapy, however, believe the scent of lilacs has numerous health benefits.
Syringa vulgaris, more commonly known as lilacs, are flowering bushes that can grow up to 30 feet high, although most are under 10 feet in height. The lilac flowers are typically purple, although recently created hybrid breeds can be white, blue or yellow. The flowers of the lilac are recognizable by their sweet aroma, which is most powerful when the flowers are in bloom, although the blooming period only lasts for a few weeks.
Aromatherapy has a centuries-long history as a form of healing, both physically and psychologically. In aromatherapy, the fragrant essential oils of various plants are distilled and then disseminated into the air, either via an atomizer, candle or other method. Aromatherapists believe the inhalation of these oils can provide a variety of therapeutic benefits. Examples are the use of eucalyptus oil to relieve nasal congestion, or citronella oil to keep mosquitoes and insects away. However, aromatherapists believe there are numerous benefits offered by a wide range of plant oils, including lilacs.
When used in aromatherapy, the essential oil from the traditional purple lilac -- or French lilac -- is said to provide a calming effect that eases anxiety. Other reported effects include a purifying, soothing sensation that centers the mind to encourage relaxation. The oil from white lilacs is also used in aromatherapy to produce a calming, soothing effect. The scent of white lilacs also brings about an enhanced feeling of sensuality.
Beyond the lilac's use in aromatherapy, the flower has a history of medicinal use. In the past, lilac was ingested to rid the intestines of parasitic worms, and was also used in the treatment of malaria. In the 19th century, lilac was used by doctors to treat fevers. However, its rate of success was so erratic that its use in the treatment of fever was discontinued by doctors. Some modern herbalists use the essential oil of lilac to treat skin ailments such as rashes, sunburns and minor cuts and scrapes.