Olfactory Bliss

There’s nothing like starting your day with fresh mint body lotion and jasmine essential oils.

Most mornings I match my moisturizers, serums and scents to my mood, or sometimes, the mood I’d like to create.  When I need a subtle pick me up, I use the rose balm I found in a mad apothecary in Kathmandu three years ago – it still smells like freshly picked rose buds!  If the night calls for something lighthearted and sensual, I have a vanilla sweet orange lotion.  And sandalwood, straight outta Mysore, always brings me down to earth.

I don’t personally need a doctor to tell me how powerful our sense of smell is in affecting mood (have you ever walked into a bakery and suddenly become so hungry you just *had* to order a croissant with your coffee?) … but if you’re curious to hear what the Mayo Clinic has to say about aromatherapy’s benefits, please read on below.  🙂

 

What are the benefits of aromatherapy?

Answer

from Brent A. Bauer, M.D. at the Mayo Clinic

Research on the effectiveness of aromatherapy — the therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from plants — is limited. However, some studies have shown that aromatherapy might have health benefits, including:

  • Relief from anxiety and depression
  • Improved quality of life, particularly for people who have chronic health conditions

Essential oils used in aromatherapy are typically extracted from various parts of plants and then distilled. The highly concentrated oils may be inhaled directly or indirectly or applied to the skin through massage, lotions or bath salts. Aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions.

Many essential oils have been shown to be safe when used as directed. However, essential oils used in aromatherapy aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. When applied to the skin, side effects may include allergic reactions, skin irritation and sun sensitivity. In addition, further research is needed to determine how essential oils might affect children and how the oils might affect women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, as well as how the oils might interact with medications and other treatments.

If you’re considering aromatherapy, consult your doctor and a trained aromatherapist about the possible risks and benefits.

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