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Aromatherapy 101: The power of scent

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As I was carrying my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to the car the other morning, she nestled her face into my neck and said, “Mom, you smell like blueberries!”  I laughed as she fluffed my hair and deeply inhaled the scent while she sighed and smiled, my fruity-shampoo-ed hair lifting her spirits.

The power of scent on our mood has been scientifically-proven and this science of aromatherapy is a growing branch of complementary therapy.  Aromatherapy is the use of concentrated essential oils of seeds, flowers, roots or other plant parts to stimulate the brain, enhance our emotions and promote healing.  The oils are typically rubbed onto the skin, used as a compress or inhaled after the oils are diffused into the air through sprays, candles or sachets. 

Scent is tied directly to the limbic system, the part of our brain that controls memory and emotion.  That is why we have all walked into a room and been met by a pleasant, calming scent that immediately put us at ease.   And why we have often found ourselves enveloped in a familiar smell and immediately transported back to memories that flood into our minds.  This is aromatherapy at work. 

There are hundreds of essential oils all with different applications, but some of the most popular aromatherapy essential oils and their uses are:

Lavender: treats wounds, aids sleep and enhances memory
Chamomile:  soothes upset stomach and aids sleep
Eucalyptus:  has antiseptic properties, focuses mind, and acts as an insect repellent
Ylang Ylang:  aids in stress relief, lowers high blood pressure
Jasmine:  relieves red, itchy skin, soothes mind, increases feelings of self confidence
Orange Oil:  benefits digestive system, brightens dull skin, uplifts spirit
Rose:  soothes emotions, aphrodisiac
Rosemary:  refreshes tired muscles, provides pain relief, combats water retention and cellulite

Aromatherapy oils are sold at many retailers including health and wellness stores, grocery stores, online, spas and salons and specialty gift stores.  The best way to start harnessing the power of scent in our daily lives is to go to research online, at the library or a bookstore and review the various ways that the different oils can benefit the body and mind.  Then decide which ones would help your personal situation the most.  Whether you need stress relief, more energy at work or a soothing post-workout rub, there are oils out there to assist with many health concerns.  And be sure to check with your doctor to be sure the oils are safe for your specific situation.  Once you’ve picked your scent, sit back, relax and take a deep breath as the oils work their magic on your mind and body.
 

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