Smell is one of the most powerful of the five senses. Probably more powerful than you might realize. In fact, did you know that 80% of flavor is created by our sense of smell? It’s true. If we didn’t have noses to help us out, everything we eat would only be distinguishable by their basic taste profile: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, or umami (think soy sauce). It’s the sense of smell that delivers all the wonderful nuances of flavor to the brain, allowing us to enjoy things like sweet, ripe berries, decadent chocolate truffles, or barbecue potato chips.
So, if the sense of smell is that powerful and important to the processing of flavor, it stands to reason that it could also aid our body in other ways. That’s where aromatherapy comes in. Are you familiar with aromatherapy? Maybe you have questions about what exactly aromatherapy is and how it can be used. This article is just for you.
Even if you aren’t sure what aromatherapy is, you can kind of get a sense of its meaning from the word itself: therapy using aroma. That is certainly the essence of it. Plainly speaking, the definition of aromatherapy is the utilization of essential oils with the intention to stimulate the senses and produce byproducts that may be beneficial to the health of one’s mind, body, and spirit.
Essential oils, when inhaled or applied topically, may offer a myriad of potential health benefits, including both emotional and physical. That’s because the sense of smell triggers the part of the brain that connects with emotions. At the same time, the human body can have a physical response to the oils that can also be therapeutic.
How is that possible, you ask? It’s one of the many magical, and awesome, things about nature. Perhaps this is the perfect time to discuss what essential oils are and where they come from.
Essential oils are the “essence” – some would say fragrance or flavor – of plants. It’s really that simple. The essence of a plant lives in its bark, stems, roots, seeds, and flowers, depending on the plant. To extract the essence from the plants, various processes are used, including cold pressing, soaking, and diluting.
Once enough of the plant’s essence is extracted, it is added to carrier oil. Which is just another way of saying: a way to transport the plant’s essence to the body of the person using it. Some typical oils used as carrier oils are grapeseed, sweet almond, safflower, coconut, jojoba, and olive oil.
As mentioned earlier, the use of essential oil may offer positive effects that are both emotional and physical. Aromatherapy is a widely accepted, holistic approach to wellness that has many advocates the world over and many success stories as well. But what are potential benefits that are unique to each essential oil? Here’s a quick “cheat sheet” to reference some of the most popular essential oils and the properties that people have attributed to them.
Chamomile and Lavender – to calm and promote better sleep
Rosemary – to energize and invigorate
Citrus/Cinnamon – to refresh
Bergamot/Clove – to deliver pain relief
Rose/Lemongrass – to relieve stress and anxiety
Eucalyptus – to decongest and build immunity
Tea Tree – to purify and cleanse
Jasmine – to uplift mood and combat depression
Peppermint – to relieve headache and sinus pain
There are two primary ways that people use aromatherapy for its potential wellness benefits:
One is breathing in a distilled version of essential oils, either by directly smelling the oils or by using a diffuser of some sort to propel the scents into the air.
The other is by applying the oils directly to the skin with the use of roll-on balms, massaging it in with your hands or diluting the oils in your bath water when soaking in the tub.
You can also experience aromatherapy indirectly by using essential oils to create home cleaning products, perfumes, room sprays, and potpourri.
We hope this article was insightful and helpful with your curiosity about aromatherapy and the potential health benefits it can provide. In case you didn’t know it, The Bradford Exchange offers a great selection of essential oils and blends, artistic diffusers and aromatherapy collections so that you can experience nature’s magic in your own home.Aromatherapy 101: Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About It by The Bradford Exchange