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Aromatherapy: The Emotional Connection between Mood, Health and Smell

The allure of alternative remedies can be attributed to several reasons. They are inexpensive; they work when other treatments fail; and they have little to no side effects. Many are also non-invasive and rely on the mind/body connection to heal the body naturally and promote health. For this reason many turn to alternative healing methods such as aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is an alternative treatment that uses essential oils and aromatic compounds to enhance and/or alter mood through the sense of smell. There are several methods of application in aromatherapy. The following are four ways that aromatherapy can be used and applied:

• Diffusion – Diffusion involves the distribution of aroma into the air around the person who is being treated. Common examples of this would be the lighting of scented candles or incense. Other examples would include scented bed sheets or an aromatic bubble bath.
• Inhalation – Sometimes the aroma can be directly inhaled. This method is especially common in treating cases of congestion and respiratory distress.
• Topical – Topical applications include massage, compresses and aromatic skin care regimens. Topical applications are very common when it comes to decreasing stress and alleviating pain.
• Internal – In some cases, aromatherapy treatments are taken internally. They are put into the body orally, rectally or vaginally to combat infection or to produce pleasant smells. For example: Chewing mint leaves is a highly effective and natural way to freshen breath.

Aromatherapy: The Scent Connection

And just how does aromatherapy work? It is believed that certain smells have a direct impact on the function of the brain. Some smells cause the brain to enter a calm, relaxed state whereas others excite the senses. Some smells bring back memories and can therefore be used in conjunction with psychotherapy. Unfamiliar scents can also be assigned a new function through association. Once you learn new scents and assign them a function your brain will automatically enter into the mindset that you taught it when the smell is introduced.

In aromatherapy, specific oils and scents are used to bring about the desired mood or mind set. For example: Jasmine is an aphrodisiac. The following is a small list of some of the more familiar scents and how they are used in aromatherapy:

• Basil – Basil is used to clear the mind and to enhance concentration. It can also be used to relieve headaches.
• Black Pepper – Pepper is most commonly used in skin applications as it stimulates blood circulation. It is used for muscle pain and discomfort. It can also be applied to bruises to speed healing.
• Clove – Clove is a topical pain reliever and is used in skin applications to relieve mild skin pain.
• Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus opens up air passages and is often used to alleviate symptoms of the cold and flu.
• Lavender – Lavender has a calming effect and is used to promote a relaxed state of mind. It can also be used to treat headaches.
• Lemon – Lemon is a mood enhancer and helps stimulate feelings of happiness. It is most commonly used in treated cases of depression.
• Tea Tree Oil – Tea Tree Oil is a topical treatment most often used as an antiseptic. It can be used to treat viral, fungal and bacterial infections.

In addition to these, there are countless other scents that can be used in aromatherapy. And not all people are responsive to all scents. Sometimes a little trial and error is needed in order to find what therapies bring about the best results.

As mentioned before, there are little to no side effects associated with aromatherapy. The most common side effect is skin irritation from using topical treatments. There have also been cases of allergic reaction. But side effects are rare. The bottom line: Aromatherapy is one of the safest treatments courses that you can follow to cure whatever ails you.



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