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9 min read

The power of scent: all about aromatherapy and its many benefits

The power of scent: all about aromatherapy and its many benefits

Interest in using aromatherapy, or scents to impact mood and stress levels, picked up in the 1970s with studies being done on particular scents, and their connection to relaxation. Today, the trend toward aromatherapy as a treatment method has gained momentum, along with interest in essential oils.

Have you ever caught a scent and felt a wave of nostalgia or a sense of peace, or even felt suddenly worried and alert? Your sense of smell is an incredible system that often doesn’t get the credit it should.

Scents and aromatherapy

When you smell something, it first arrives at the olfactory bulb in your brain, which processes the scent and then passes that signal to your limbic system. The limbic system plays a major role in your mood, memory, behavior, and emotion. While being a very complicated and important system, it’s also very primitive and has been around since the first mammals. This is why your sense of smell is so good at triggering emotions and memories.

Because the smell of a place sparks an emotional response, using scents to create a pleasant atmosphere has been around for thousands of years. Scented oils were extracted from herbs and flowers to create concentrated fragrances that were then used in religious ceremonies and as medicines.

Benefits of common aromatherapy scents

If you’re going to try some aromatherapy in your life to see what benefits you can get, just remember to pay attention to any allergy symptoms you may develop. It's a good idea to use a diffuser or dilution agent to avoid skin irritation, and try to learn as much as you can about the properties of each scent.

Vanilla

The smell of vanilla brings up memories of baking or sweet treats for many, but it’s not just a powerful flavor additive, vanilla has some remarkable health benefits as well.

Antioxidant: Vanilla has properties that help ward off free radical damage that can harm the body in a variety of ways

Antidepressant: Vanilla has proven to be an effective mood lifter.

Aphrodisiac: Some people with libido problems get a hormonal secretion boost from vanilla.

Antimutagenic: A study of vanilla found it helps protect the human body from cell mutation.

Sedative: Vanilla is excellent at soothing the body, creating an all-over relaxed feeling. The relaxation effects can be so profound that some people find that vanilla helps with trouble sleeping.

Sandalwood

Who doesn’t want to feel a greater sense of calm and mental clarity throughout the day? Sandalwood might be able to help you with that. The benefits of sandalwood include:

Mental clarity: The alpha-santalol in sandalwood generates high levels of alertness.

Calming: Sandalwood has long been noted as an effective agent in relieving anxiety and stress.

Anti-inflammatory: The anti-inflammatory nature of sandalwood has many benefits throughout the body.

Astringent: This is why you’ll often find sandalwood in aftershaves, facial cleansers, and other cosmetics. Sandalwood is great at soothing, cleansing and tightening the skin.

Coconut

Coconut oil is a big trend these days, and with a scent that sweeps you away to a tropical mindset, you’re ready to get on board. But in addition to smelling like a vacation, the health benefits of coconut oil are plentiful.

Strengthens hair: Coconut oil uses natural oils to moisturize the hair root and follicle for better growth and less breakage.

Antibacterial: Because coconut oil has antibacterial properties, it’s perfect for skin care.

Probiotic: Coconut oil is a probiotic, meaning it may offer relief from some digestive issues and help support healthy gut bacteria.

Heart health: Healthy fats are found in coconut oil and these fats then convert bad cholesterol into good cholesterol, which can benefit your heart.

Rose

Roses are often referenced in literature for their sweet scent, but that smell packs more than a literary punch. The health benefits of rose oil are many:

Antidepressant: Rose oil can be an effective agent in fighting depression and anxiety and evoking positive feelings.

Anti-inflammatory: Not only can rose oil help decrease inflammation, but it also wards off secondary health conditions that are brought on by inflammation.

Antispasmodic: Rose has long been used to help treat, and even cure spasms in the respiratory system, intestines and muscles.

Anti-viral: Rose oil can act as a shield for the body against some cold and flu viruses.

Peppermint

Peppermint is a strong oil that’s arguably as popular as vanilla when it comes to food additives. And this is a good thing. Peppermint oil is loaded with health benefits.

Relief for stomach upset: Peppermint has long been known for its ability to reduce colonic spasms, ease abdominal pain and help relieve upset stomach symptoms.

Decongestant: One big whiff of peppermint and your sinuses feel better. It can also help clear phlegm from your respiratory tract.

Pain reliever: Rubbing peppermint oil onto your temples can relieve some tension headaches, while peppermint oil rubbed into the muscles can ease pain.

Skin and hair health: Used as a massage oil, the antiseptic and antimicrobial properties of peppermint oil help cleanse the skin and promote blood flow.

Tea tree

Tea tree oil is also known as melaleuca oil. While there are numerous benefits to tea tree oil, it should be noted that it should never be ingested.

Antibacterial: The oil from the melaleuca tree has long been a treatment for skin conditions because of its antibacterial properties.

Antifungal: One of the highlights of tea tree oil is that it can kill a number of different yeasts and fungi.

Anti-acne: Your complexion will love the anti-acne benefits of tea tree oil.

Cedarwood

Cedarwood is probably not as well-known as the other essential oils mentioned above, but it’s definitely worth getting to know. Cedarwood oil is simply loaded with health benefits:

Stimulates hair growth: Cedarwood promotes circulation, which brings more nutrients and moisture to the scalp, creating a great environment for new hair growth.

Antiseptic: Cedarwood oil works as a natural antiseptic to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms, making it excellent for skin care.

Anti-inflammatory: Inflammation is responsible for many ailments and pains in life, cedarwood is especially beneficial to joints and tissue inflammation.

Soothing: Cedarwood is one of those scents that relaxes and calms the soul.

Final thoughts

Your sense of smell is incredibly complex and remarkable, yet it’s probably one of the most underused senses. You can harness that powerful connection to memory and mood by learning about aromatherapy, and how some essential oils can boost your health and happiness.

If you’re looking to start exploring aromatherapy, make sure you look into the healing powers of the products listed above.

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