Aromatherapy: The Science of Smell

Aromatherapy: The Science of Smell

We’ve all had the experience where we’ve walked into a store and immediately stopped to just inhale the lovely fragrance coming from within. We instantly felt different after one full sniff!  If you just walked into a coffee shop, you probably felt more energetic and awake.  If you just walked into a candle store, you probably felt more relaxed or calmer.  This is aromatherapy! 

Aromatherapy is the science of using our natural sense of smell to affect our physical bodies, emotional attitudes, levels of health and individual moods.   For thousands of years, essential oils have been a mainstay in aromatherapy.  Some of the essential oils most often used in aromatherapy include:

  1.  Tea Tree Oil.  TTO is one of the most often used essential oils not just for aromatherapy, but for medicinal purposes, homemade personal care products and homemade cleaning products.  It is a great immunity booster and helps the body fight infections. 
  2. Bergamot.  Bergamot has a citrusy smell and can often be found in natural perfumes.  It is used to alleviate depression and stress.  It has also been historically used to naturally reduce pain. 
  3. Peppermint. This naturally invigorating scent helps to combat irritation and anxiety.  It will sharpen a person’s focus and make a person feel more awake.  Many people report that peppermint also helps with nasal congestion and tension headaches. 
  4. Eucalyptus.  Eucalyptus oil is used to help treat respiratory ailments.  It is also widely known to help naturally treat migraines and mental exhaustion.  When used in a room spray, it kills bacteria in the air, making the entire room smell clean. 
  5. Jasmine.  This beautiful fragrance has multiple uses.  It is used as an anti-depressant and to help increase the quality of sleep, but is most well known because it increases the feelings of romance and intimacy.  It is great for use in the bedroom. 

It’s important to remember that essential oils are not really oil.  They are a highly concentrated derivative of the juice or liquid extracted from the plant source.  For that reason, they should never be used directly on the skin. 

If you wish to benefit from aromatherapy in a topical treatment, you can create your own massage oil or body lotion.  The rule of thumb is to use about 6 drops of essential oils to one fluid ounce of a carrier oil or butter.  Good choices include olive oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, or almond oil.  Once you’ve created your carrier solution, you can also drop a few tablespoons into a warm bath and immerse yourself into the wonderfully great-smelling warmth. 

If you don’t have a carrier oil handy, you could purchase a non-scented organic lotion and apply your own oils to the lotion.  However, please make sure to test a very small amount first since it’s difficult to know in advance how the essential oils will react to the ingredients in the purchased lotion. 

Other ways to achieve aromatherapy benefits include “steaming the room”.  Simply add 10-12 drops of essential oils to a small pan of water.  Turn on to boil and let the aromas fill the room.  You could also use a specially-made essential oil diffuser, vaporizer or burner.  

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