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Smell Your Way to a Healthier Life

By Pamela Shenk, CHt


A scent has the power to evoke memories of people, places and things in an instant from our past. They can also trigger emotions and immediately impact our bodies. By simply smelling various essential oils, we can experience a range of emotions—from peaceful to energetic. In fact, some scents can activate physical reactions through our nervous system in the same way as many anti-anxiety medications.


Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine practice that harnesses the healing power of scents to help alleviate stress, relax the body and promote better sleep. Over the years, aromatherapy has become very popular as a complementary treatment in many spas. Anyone who has ever received a massage or who is familiar with acupuncture may be familiar with the use of essential oils.


For instance, it has long been known that lavender oil is very calming, which is why it’s so commonly used in many laundry detergents, candles, soap and potpourri. However, there is another scent, sweet orange essential oil, that has gained in popularity recently. Some people seem to enjoy it even more than lavender, not only for stress relief, but for healing as well. A study performed by the Mayo Clinic found that even a quick smell of citrus can make a difference in stress and anxiety as well as help with digestion and nausea. Grapefruit aromas may help reduce depression and enhance memory; while lemon may enhance performance. Some people prefer other cents like geranium, thyme, rosemary or lemon.


You should test some different scents to see what suits you and perhaps during this holiday season, consider purchasing some as gifts. It doesn’t have to be essential oils, it can be room sprays, scented candles, and even scented dryer sheets for your laundry. Some people use scented bubble bath and bath oils for total relaxation while bathing. Another great use is to put some scent on a cotton ball inside your pillow case and it just might help you drift into a nice sound sleep.