Why is it that certain smells can evoke strong emotions? It turns out our sense of smell is one of the most basic, primal senses. Aromatherapy uses pure, highly concentrated scents from plants in essential oils to effect changes in our emotions and body. Dr. Becky Phillips, a chiropractor and aromatherapy practitioner in Albuquerque, tells us more about this effective therapy.
How does it work?
“Aromatherapy works on two levels,” explains Dr. Phillips. “When we inhale, smells activate a part of our brain. Smells can also work energetically, in a homeopathic way, to ease specific health conditions.” Specifically, smell receptors in the nose send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system, the part of the brain that’s connected with emotions. Smells can cause physical responses too, and can ease some ailments when we breathe in the appropriate scent, Dr. Phillips tells us.
How do we use it?
Essential oils can be mixed with water and used in a spray bottle to scent a room, or dropped into a diffuser. A good choice is the Green Air SpaVapor Ultrasonic Oil Diffuser, which creates a micro-fine mist of the oils using ultrasonic vibrations. The oils can also be applied to skin when diluted with pure carrier oils like almond, jojoba or even coconut oil.
Rubbing diluted essential oil blends on acupuncture points can stimulate healing of the corresponding body area. Aromatherapy bath salts are another option; you’ll get the therapeutic effects of hydrotherapy and aromatherapy combined.
Essential Oils 101
With the power to enhance our mood and make us feel better, here are some of the most common essential oils—and their uses.
Lavender – Calming
While lavender’s ability to calm us is well known, this essential oil is a useful anti-viral agent too. Mix it with water in a travel spray bottle, and you’ll have a safe, alcohol-free sanitizer. Another tip: Spray around the house to keep spiders out. Try Pharmaca’s Essential Oil of French Lavender
Mint – Energizing
Mint is invigorating—and the perfect wake-up call to use in the morning. Breathing in the scent of peppermint can help settle an upset stomach, or make you feel cooler on hot days. Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Peppermint
Citrus – Refreshing and Uplifting
Citrus scents like orange and lemon renew and cleanse the air, and enhance our sense of wellbeing. They can help clear the mind of distractions, and are ideal preparation for starting a new task or project. Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Lemon, or Essential Oil of Orange
Clove – Pain Relief
The active compound in cloves is eugenol, known for decreasing pain (especially in toothaches) and also for its antiseptic properties. Clove’s warm, spicy scent can help relieve headache, too. Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Clove Bud
Lemongrass – Stress Relieving
Known for its ability to relax us and help with insomnia, lemongrass is also revitalizing, and a perfect way to refresh any room. It’s a great insect repellant too, especially for mosquitoes and “no-see-ums.” Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Lemongrass
Eucalyptus – Decongestant
Eucalyptus has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and its ability to open nasal passages make it ideal for respiratory and sinus conditions. Try Pharmaca's Essential Oil of Eucalyptus