Easy Aromatherapy: Time to Stimulate the Limbic System!

Feature photo by Flare

Ever wonder why a particular smell will conjure up a memory from way back when? How can a single whiff have the uncanny power to remind you of a happy time or even an unhappy one? It’s because your nose “knows” the 411! Your body recalls processing the scent and will set off a series of functions associated with that particular smell. Yes, that can be annoying for some of us, especially when we’ve already learned our lesson from over doing it with Grey Goose Vodka and curse the thought of ever having to relive the memory! Not that I’ve had any firsthand experience with that.

Our bodies are capable of distinguishing well over 5,000 scents! With the help of the olfactory nerves located in our nose, scents we inhale travel up to the area of the brain that controls our moods. So it’s not a coincidence when you resort back to child-like behavior, all giddy and happy go lucky when you are around one of the smells you most admire. For me, the scent of tequila and the smell of a Newport will do wonders for my mental health, but hey, perhaps that’s just me!

I’ve always been a person who can readily associate a memory to a scent; I used to think there was something wrong with me, always reliving memories just because I got a whiff of something, then I chalked it up to a quirk in my personality, and now I use it to my benefit. Before, my mood would be altered almost instantly when I came across a scent I did not like. I would go from cotton-candy-sweet to total witch in a heartbeat when the wind changed direction. I have suffered most of my life with migraines and, at times, I have been unable to tolerate certain types of scents without utter discomfort. Now that I am older I can manipulate my body into a feel good mood simply by surrounding myself with the right scents and letting my brain expel endorphins into my system to make me one happy woman!

I can recall as a child thinking my mother was a miracle worker. I swear, she had a holistic remedy for just about any ache, pain or discomfort, regardless of whatever nook or cranny it was in! My favorite was always eucalyptus, or as she would call it, menthol. I recall weekly trips to the grocery store to buy manzanilla, or as we say in English, chamomile. I was none the wiser to why both my mother and grandmother would be happy as bees in honey after sipping on a few cups of manzanilla. Well, now I know; my mother wasn’t a miracle worker, she was just equipped with the knowledge of aromatherapy.

Over the years I have practiced healing myself and inducing calmness and relaxation back into my body just by breathing and using some good old fashioned home remedies. Now, by no means does that mean I don’t take medication, because I do (I’m open-minded, not crazy). Let’s face it: sometimes there are some ailments only a Valium can suppress! For the most part, I try to refrain from dumping unnecessary products and chemicals into my body and will reach for a holistic remedy before to leaping for a prescription.

I’m in a sharing mood, so let me share some traditional aromatherapy not-so-secret, secrets. Oh, and just for the record, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, I am just sharing with you some of the knowledge that has been passed on to me. Let us share…..

Benefits of utilizing aromatherapy:
1) Stimulates the immune system
2) Relieves tension headaches
3) Restores balance to the mind, body and soul
4) Reduces inflammation
5) Reduces stress

Popular Aromatherapy Scents
1) Chamomile- used for calming, eases aches and pains
2) Eucalyptus- used for opening nasal passages, improves alertness
3) Lavender- can improve digestion, reduce swelling
4) Peppermint- memory enhancer, when used in a liniment can increase blood flow, thus relieving pain associated with muscle spasms and arthritis
5) Rosemary- helps to relieve sore throats, improves blood circulation

Bonus Honorable mention: Vanilla- also used for calming, neutralizes scent of nicotine

Traditional aromatherapy treatments can be done at home by lighting candles, and using bath/shower gels, bubble baths. Even some shampoos and conditioners have popular aromatherapy fragrances in them. There are many products available for aromatherapy use at home which can be found in most retail stores or online. I encourage you to find what works for you, take your “happy” scent and incorporate it where you live, in your car or at the office (keeping in mind if you take it to the office, do it sparingly, some is better than none, and too much may be uncomfortable for others). Should you desire a more intimate experience with aromatherapy, try going to a spa for a massage and/or treatment. It will be well worth the effort. Having a healthy mind, body and soul is as easy as taking time to listen to your body, so slow down and, yes, smell the roses. Stay healthy and don’t forget to smile my friend, you’ve just been handed the key to your own happiness!

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