“Stop and smell the roses.”
The age-old saying is important for more than just its message to enjoy the little things. Roses smell good and taking in that whiff of fragrant air affects more than just your nasal passages.
And roses aren’t the only scent capable of inducing some kind of positive bodily reaction. According to The Mayo Clinic, research is limited on the efficacy of aromatherapy, the “therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from plants.”
In theory, aromatherapy works by stimulating cell receptors your nose. Then, these receptors send tiny messages that eventually work their way to the part of your brain where emotions are controlled.
However, the research that does exist—along with a few sworn-by testimonials—says there are a few health benefits to aromatherapy. If you scour the internet, you’ll find dozens of oil uses. But here are a few with many sources singing their praises.
1. Anxiety and Depression Relief
Lavender tops the list as one of the most relaxing scents. Not only is praised for its reported ability to help with migraines and treat insomnia in women, but it has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression in hospice patients. Similar scents, such as jasmine, have also been used for depression relief.
2. A Happiness Boost
Skin products come in citrusy scents for a reason, and it’s because citrus smells make you feel more energized. Aside from boosting your mood, citrus can also help relieve stress. To capitalize on a natural happiness high, look to vanilla for “feelings of joy and relaxation.” Bonus happiness points if you combine orange and vanilla essential oils.
3. Concentration and Memory Enhancement
Everyone loves the warm smells that accompany fall. And based on their effects to help ease stress, sharpen your mind, and allow you to concentrate, it’s no wonder the candle aisle is always stocked with pine, cinnamon, and peppermint-scented goods. Peppermint is responsible for sharper focus, while cinnamon has been shown to improve cognitive function, and pine helps cut stress so your mind can focus on what matters.
While researching, I saw that several of these scents offer a few different benefits (such as lavender, which is in the books for everything from arousal to insomnia). As the essential oil trend has taken off in recent years, it’s interesting to see how people turn to diffused or scented massage oils to heal things thought to only be curable by pills. Now, if anyone has the aromatherapy secret to period cramps, do share!