The sense of smell is often said to evoke vivid memories and emotions. This is because when you breathe in the fresh food at your local supermarket, the scents go directly to the limbic system of your brain (the part responsible for memories and emotions).
The stimuli from your other senses (taste, site, touch and hearing) however, do not pass through these areas of the brain.
This is why the field of aromatherapy has become a popular choice for mental and emotional conditions. Practitioners claim that since the scents of essential oils and other aromatic compounds directly affect emotion and memory, they cause relaxation and calmness. Although research is still up and coming, studies do show that essential oils improve moods. However, studies so far have not shown improvement in immune function.
Aromatherapy has been used for hundreds of years in many countries. For example, topical application and direct inhalation methods are used to relieve a myriad of conditions in Thailand. You will often see Thais sniffing inhalers to relieve headaches, nausea, and dizziness. So, if you are prone to nausea- on your next adventurous car ride, I recommend bringing a nasal stick or liquid inhaler with you. You can also inhale or rub some on your nose to relieve congestion when you have a cold!
Another method of utilizing aromatherapy is through aerial diffusion. Do you ever come home to a muggy, damp smelling room? A diffuser can keep your home or office smelling great and fresh, while also lightening your mood. Keep your emotions and home happy and healthy!
Here are some more reading and resources!
More on essential oils and aromatherapy
Author: Sai Jurawanichkul, MS, LAc