I am obsessed with the smell of eucalyptus and mint. Recently, I have found myself looking forward to my monthly facials, just for the eucalyptus towel scent that I get to experience every time that my face is towel dried in between each step of my facial. For me, life is about the little things, and this is such a great help in remaining present. When I am present, all stress is relieved, and my mind immediately is transported to a place of serenity. I honestly swear by this scent, but evidence based research on aromatherapy seems to be inconclusive.
Chinese medicine and other holistic practices plant extracts for the purpose of stress, anxiety, and medicinal purposes. I will talk about my love of sage in a future post, but certain scents have been proven to stimulate the nervous system. The goal of aromatherapy is to provoke the olfactory cranial nerve II, which triggers the smell receptors in the nose. These receptors communicate with the limbic system of the brain. This part of the brain controls emotion, memories, and arousal. However, now the hard part is trying to decide which smells are effective for you, and which ones are not cutting it. It is a very personal thing. I once worked with an anesthesiologist who was quite easily the most miserable and unhappy being EVER! Every day was the worst day of her life, and she took it out on anyone in sight. That being said, she absolutely hated my calming eucalyptus hand cream, meanwhile everyone loved it, and instantly felt its calming effects. Til this day, I still feel as if she was hating, but we can’t make everyone happy.
Let’s look at lavender oil. This is not my personal favorite scent, but some people feel that it is an effective oil for calming anxiety. In my undergraduate education, I had a great professor named Dr. Didi, that always passed around a bottle of lavender oil for the class to smell before every class. I swear, it did nothing for me. According to a recent study, lavender has had no effect on lowering heart rate or stress hormones in subjects that were placed in a stressful environment.
I say, do whatever makes you happy! There is something to be said for the pathophysiology of the smell receptors leading to the limbic system, which effects our overall mood. So find whatever scent works for you. Make sure that you do not overdo it, as you will become accustomed to the scent, and that will lessen the effectiveness of the overall scent on your receptors. So go ahead and burn that incense or light that candle…do you!!