Have you ever smelled a scented candle in the fall? If so, can you imagine what it smells like? Think for a moment, and recall the scents of pumpkin spice, vanilla, apple pie, or orange clove. How do you feel? Do you feel excited, comforted, and nostalgic? Do you feel like you could smile?
Scent has a unique ability to quickly trigger emotional and even physical reactions. Simply imagining the aromas of cinnamon, clove, and vanilla can create an emotional response. Additionally, while you were imagining those scents and thinking happy thoughts, your body likely relaxed and your stress level decreased. Where the mind goes, the body follows; by making your mind feel happy, your body felt happy too.
How does it work?
Scents travel from your nose to your brain where they activate the limbic system – the part of the brain that manages emotions, memories, and behavior. When we inhale an aroma (or essence), it activates numerous psychological and even physiological responses. Aromatherapy occurs when specific essences are combined with the intention to treat a physical and/or psychological ailment. This chart is a great guide for how this works.
There are over 300 different essential oils, each of which has a different effect on the body and mind. Lavender, for example, relaxes the mind and eases anxiety, it also regenerates skin cells and help wounds heal, and even relieves pain. Eucalyptus is known for rejuvenating and awakening the mind, and also improves respiratory function, and eliminates bacteria. Rosemary is great for improving circulation, memory function, and relaxing the nervous system. Essential oils provide the ability to address the health of the whole being - one's holistic health. The art of aromatherapy is in the creation of custom blends designed to benefit an individual's holistic health.
How to Receive Aromatherapy
Inhalation is perhaps the easiest way to apply an aromatherapy blend. When you inhale an aroma, it travels through the nasal passage to the brain and triggers a response within seconds. Here are a few ways to inhale your aromatherapy blends:
Direct Inhalation: Simply apply the aromatherapy blend to your palms or on your wrist, bring your hands to your face, close your eyes, and take several deep breathes, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Steam Inhalation: Add several drops to a steaming pot or bowl of water, and either create a face steam or simply let the steam fill the room.
Topical Application: 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. If you apply your aromatherapy blend to your skin, the essential oils are absorbed through the skin, into the blood stream, and then transported throughout the body. Applying an aromatherapy blend to the body, including near the face where you can also inhale the scent, is a great way to receive the benefits.
Aromatherapy blends are best used daily to achieve desired effects. Use your blend in the morning and again before bed. Create a quiet, calm space, and take 6 deep breaths. Close your eyes and visualize the essences traveling to their destinations and going to work for you. Smile, breathe, and be still. Feel grateful for these botanical blessings, and thank yourself for taking the time to be well.