Aromatherapy has existed for quite some time. And of course, we've all read about it or heard about it in some capacity because it's a pretty simple way to improve your quality of life. Seriously, since the nose is basically a direct path to your limbic system (where feelings and emotions come from), scent plays a huge importance in our day-to-day emotional lives whether we know it or not.
I'm always looking for ways to improve my quality of life, and from outwards appearances, it seemed that aromatherapy could be a good bet.
“The sense of smell is incredibly powerful. It has the ability to bring back childhood memories, as well as to help quiet our minds from our hectic lives," says Lara Morgan, founder of the aromatherapy brand, Scentered.
"...essential oils not only have sometimes a gorgeous fragrance, but the ability to trigger emotional, memory bank, and mental responses from the brain, as well as physical reactions within the body, from relaxation and sleep, to wake up and focus. They can even improve our digestion and help to clear and brighten skin."
Basically, aromatherapy is nothing to scoff at. Deborah Baker, the VP of Aromatherapy Associates explained to me the very dynamic way in which this holistic method works to heal.
"Essential oils work on two levels—an emotional [level], as well as a physical level to improve one's general state of health and wellbeing," she said. "True aromatherapy uses essential oils at therapeutic levels. On an emotional level, the aromas of essential oils have a dynamic effect. The sense of smell is the most primitive of our senses and is linked to the deepest parts of the brain which govern basic instincts, memories, and emotions."
So what about on a physical level? Baker says that because the oils are made up of small natural molecules, they can penetrate into our bloodstream and possible help address common concerns or ailments.
Essential oils are used extensively in the spa industry to help ease muscular aches and pains, improve circulation, and ease sinus congestion. And in skin-care products, essential oils can have a positive effect on the skin, such as optimizing the cellular renewal process, enhancing blood circulation, and addressing problems such as acne, eczema, and aging skin.
So how do you use essential oils to make your life a little better? According to Baker, essential oils work really well when you add a few drops to an electric fragrancer or a bowl of hot water—the scent will fill your room with mood-altering qualities. Another way to use essential oil, which in my opinion is the best, is to drop some on your torso and massaging it in a little before you get in the shower. When you get under the hot water, the scent will envelop you, and you will feel better as you breathe in deeply. But, of course, the most important part of your aromatherapy practice is to choose a quality blend of oils. Baker likened this decision to eating an orange: If you eat only one piece, you won't receive the full benefits that you would from eating the whole orange.
Now you know you can use scents to change how you feel, but what about treating specific conditions? We'll start with sleep. If you suffer from insomnia, an oil blend of chamomile and vetiver is said to be deeply relaxing. In fact, Baker tells me that their customers often refer to their Deep Relax blend ($33; net-a-porter.com) as "better than sleeping pills—and far healthier!"
A blend of ginger, rosemary, and black pepper? Well, Baker says that's going to be amazing for achy joints and muscles and aches or pains, which is fantastic because, as it happens, Aromatherapy Associates has an amazing De-Stress Muscle Gel with that very blend of oils ($39; net-a-porter.com). I swear by it.
What about for those days when you need a little kick in the pants? Baker suggests looking to citrus oils, as they are fabulous for reviving your spirits and your vitality. For example, a blend of pink grapefruit oil and juniper berry are a wonderful wakeup call, and they even help to boost circulation!
I personally look forward to making my life smell even better, so I can feel even better.