One day when I was a child and at home with my grandmother (mi abuela), I became frightened for some unexplainable reason and I went out the front door and stood outside. My wise grandmother knew just what to do. She came outside with a bottle and misted perfume over my head. No, this wasn’t some ancient tradition to ward off bad spirits. It was simply for the scent itself. Within seconds, I was calm and able to go back inside.
What is it about scents? For years, scents have been used to attract the opposite sex. Funny enough, it is often women who say that the scent of a man is a deal breaker. It isn’t just his natural body scent but the scent of his after shave as well which is why we often buy it for them. Most women love to wear perfume although we mainly wear it for ourselves because in general men prefer our natural body scent.
Many of us love scents in our home whether its air-fresheners, scented candles, incense or potpourri. I love to change mine around. Scents of pumpkin spice, cloves or cranberry in autumn; scents of eucalyptus, pine, ginger, cinnamon, citrus or mulled wine in winter; scents of fresh flowers in spring and clean scents like cotton or ocean breezes in summer.(Which reminds me, I have to make a visit to my local Yankee Candle shop).
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils used in aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine which uses essential oils to promote physical and psychological well-being. Essential oils can be used in a diffuser or mixed with a carrier oil and applied to skin. Essential oils have been used in massage therapy to bring peace and relaxation and to soothe muscles.
These are a few examples of how aromatherapy is used:
- Lavender is used to calm and sooth. Some people fill small pillows with lavender petals to use in bed to promote relaxation in order to sleep. You can also just put a few drops of essential oil of lavender on your pillow or in a diffuser.
- Peppermint is used to invigorate. It can help wake you up in the morning. Many people drink peppermint tea rather than caffeine to start the day. Some people will put a few drops of peppermint oil behind their ears or on their clothing before a workout. It’s been proven in one study that people will work out even longer with the scent of peppermint oil than without it.
- Rosemary has been used to aid memory and used in shampoos to improve scalp conditions and hair growth.
- Jasmine has been known to aid sleep if used in a diffuser in the bedroom. Some report that they even feel more alert the day after.
- Eucalyptus is great for colds! A few drops of eucalyptus oil in a diffuser or vaporizer helps clear nasal passages. Vicks vaporub has a small percentage of eucalyptus but it still works brilliantly. You can rub it on your chest to help with chest congestion or dab a bit behind your ears if your ears are blocked or under your nose or wipe on your pyjama shirt. You can also use it in a vaporizer.
Scents have been used to comfort. I have heard that children who are spending the night away from home will often bring a garment such as a shirt which belongs to one of their parents. It is said they sleep better smelling their parent’s scent. Some infants have been put to bed with a small cloth containing the scent of their mother’s milk. My abuela was wise to know about the placebo effect of scents when she used perfume to calm me. Years later when I had children of my own and any of them were afraid or had a bad dream, I would tell them to smell a scented candle and then watched as their anxiety melted away from their countenance. It really does work!
To read more about mi abuela click here.