There is no question that stress and anxiety have powerful effects on our bodies, our moods and our relationships with others. They not only affect how we feel, but they also affect how we look at ourselves, and the way we are perceived by others. Entirely eliminating anxiety from our lives is not a realistic option, but what if relieving stress, tension, anxiety and the harmful side effects they cause was as easy as taking a deep breath? Is the secret to silencing the stress response as simple as exposure to the right scent? There is increased scientific evidence to lead us to the conclusion that when administered properly aromatherapy, using essential oils from plants can support and balance the mind, body, and spirit, and may improve quality of life and reduce stress and anxiety.
Our sense of smell may not be as keen as that of most animals – there are only around five million receptor cells in the human nose compared to 200 million in a dog’s nasal passages. But our sense of smell still plays a major role in our emotions and in both our physical and mental health.
The significant effect of smell on the brain is a relic of the life-and-death importance that the sense of smell had for early man. The limbic center, or the area of the brain that processes emotions, is tied to the brain’s olfactory bulbs, which process smells. This close connection in the brain helps make the relationship between smells and moods, scents and memories. Our sense of smell, which is controlled by the limbic system, was much more powerful in primitive man, helping him to sniff out enemies, danger and food. While the importance of smell to our survival has diminished, its effects on the brain and body remain.
As research is increasingly showing, smells can have an impact on almost everything, from dreams and emotions, to stress and anxiety, and can effect our concentration, focus and even our sense of romance. With this in mind, imagine incorporating fragrances and scents into your everyday life, through aromatherapy to improve the way you feel about and respond to life.
aromatherapy & your emotions
Aromatherapy is often accomplished through the use of essential oils, which are the true concentrated essence extracted from a plant. Essential oils are very potent, and just a few drops can have a powerful effect. Various fragrances are used for their particular effects on emotions. Following are just a few. Many of these aromatherapy fragrances have been used for centuries getting these same results.
• Relieve Anger: Chamomile, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose and Ylang-ylang.
• Relieve Anxiety: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Cypress, Frankincense, Hyssop, Lavender, Marjoram, Myrrh, Neroli, Orange, Peach, Rose, Rose Geranium and Violet Leaf.
• Increase Confidence: Frankincense, Jasmine, Patchouli and Sandalwood.
• Ease Depression: Bergamot, Clary Sage, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Neroli, Orange, Petitgrain, Rose Geranium, Sandalwood, Tangerine and Ylang-ylang.
• Improve Memory: Bay Laurel, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon and Rosemary.
• Ease Sorrow: Clary Sage, Cypress, Fir, Marjoram, Rosemary and Sage.
• Elevate Libido: Jasmine, Rose, Sandalwood, Vanilla and Ylang-ylang.
• Invigorate and Overcome Fatigue: Angelica, Benzoin, Camphor, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove Basil, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Lemon, Peppermint, Pine, Sage and Spiced Apple.
• Reduce Stress, Nervous Tension and Insomnia: Bergamot, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Cloves, Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Marjoram, Myrrh, Neroli, Nutmeg, Orange, Petitgrain, Rose, Sandalwood, Sweet Melissa, Valerian, Vanilla, Violet, and Ylang-ylang.
• Calm Irritability: Chamomile, Neroli, Rose, and Rose Geranium.
Methods of Delivering Aromatic Oils The scents of essential oils can be released in several different ways, including the use of atomizers, bath salts and bath oils, candles, electric heat and cold air nebulizing diffusers, facial steam, hot compresses, and massage. For each of these methods the essential oils are mixed with other substances to dilute them and make them safe to come into contact with the skin or allow them to be inhaled.
Using Essential Oils Safely Essentials oils are highly concentrated liquids that can be harmful if not used carefully. Integrating aromatherapy into your lifestyle can be a positive experience, but it is important to learn about, and follow a few safety guidelines before you get started. Following are seven basic pointers for essential oil safety.
1. Essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin.
2. Some oils may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.
3. Essential oils may cause irritation, inflammation, blistering, redness and/or burning when exposed to UVA rays.
4. Some essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy, or by those with asthma, epilepsy or other health conditions.
5. Essential oils should be used conservatively. Because they are so concentrated, a little goes a long way.
6. Never let children use essential oils without the presence of an adult knowledgeable about their use.
7. Essential oils should not be taken internally, without the guidance by a qualified practitioner.
Find a Qualified Aromatherapist One place to look if you are interested in finding a qualified aromatherapy practitioner is with the Aromatherapy Registration Council or ARC, which was formed to promote the advancement of aromatherapy research and practice. The council is a non-profit organization, not associated with any specific school or company to ensure an unbiased approach. To find a registered aromatherapist in your area, visit www.aromatherapycouncil.org.