Aromas hit the nose and go directly to the most primitive parts of the brain, affecting our emotions and nervous system before our higher cortex is even aware of them. Familiar smells such as morning
coffee, pumpkin pie baking, grandmother's lavender-scented pillowcases--these are all comforting and reassuring. Retail stores use aroma to entice shoppers to feel comfortable and shop longer. Harsh
smells of hospital disinfectants can conjure up fear. The perfume industry invests millions of dollars designing new combinations of alluring fragrances.
Many massage therapists include essential oils in their massage lotions to combine the benefits of aromatherapy and massage. Hospitals, hospices, and clinics around the world are starting to use
aromas to help patients feel more relaxed, cheerful, and at ease. The essential oils of lavender, clary sage, neroli, and chamomile are relaxing, reducing agitation and stress and promoting calm. The
plant oils from citrus, pine, eucalyptus, cedar, and mint promote alertness, focus, and a feeling of being refreshed.
Be aware as you shop for home cleaning products, laundry cleaning products, soaps, personal hygiene products, and air fresheners that some of these products contain natural fragrances from the
essential oils of plants, while others are based on new-to-nature chemical impostors that can trigger nasty reactions.
For people who are extremely sensitive to chemical odors, chemical smells trigger headaches, depression, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, and a variety of other unpleasant symptoms. The
medical name for this is multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). People with MCS can experience full-blown panic attacks, confusion, or deep depression when confronted with chemicals to which they are
Whenever possible, use natural cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda, citrus oils, geranium, rose, or lavender. Be careful with essential oils of plants; even though they are natural, they are
strong, and some people develop skin irritation if the pure undiluted oils are applied directly to the skin.
By Kathi J. Kemper, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P.
(Excerpted with permission from Mental Health, Naturally by Kathi J. Kemper, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P.. Copyright American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010.)
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