Aromatherapy For Our Brain
For thousands of years, humans have been using natural plant extracts as a source of medicinal therapies. Over the years, we’ve studied plants and have learned how to apply their different properties to benefit the field of medicine. In fact, many of the pharmaceutical therapies we use today are from researching natural botanical applications to the human body.
Ancient civilizations believed in the power of using plants for physical and psychological benefits. Over time, many of these practices have been forgotten or adapted in modern therapies. However, holistic medicine has seen a resurgence in recent years, bringing natural therapies back into popularity. And one of these homeopathic areas gaining more traction is aromatherapy.
The human nose has over 400 scent receptors and can differentiate between an incredible one trillion scents. Our sense of smell has been linked to physiological effects on our moods, stress reactions, and memories. Which makes sense because our olfactory system has multiple direct connections to the hippocampus, thalamus, and frontal cortex. This link between our sense of smell and brain activity can be measured on an EEG.
While there are countless aromatherapy scents, making an endless list of blends and mixes, here are three basic scents to help boost our brain health.
One of the more popular scents, lavender oil has long been associated with relaxation and elevating our mood. Research on the benefits of lavender oil shows improved sleep patterns, reduced anxiety symptoms, heightened concentration, and focus, along with mild pain relief. On an EEG, participants who inhaled lavender oil showed increased theta and alpha wave activities, supporting the research demonstrating lavender’s relaxing properties.
Lavender is a versatile oil and can be used in several ways. It can be added to bath products or skincare products, added to diffusers, or applied directly to the skin when mixed with a carrier oil. Using lavender throughout the day can help keep us focused and relaxed, enabling us to get more work done. It can also be used in relaxation routines such as bath or spa treatments along with regular nighttime use to aid in falling asleep.
We may automatically associate peppermint with our favorite brand of gu, but the benefits of the oil go far beyond that. Peppermint oil has numerous benefits on our body and brain. It reduces fatigue and increases our overall cognitive performance by enhancing memory, stimulating our concentration and alertness levels, improving our problem-solving skills, and sharpening our reasoning.
More than simply pepping us up, peppermint actually lowers our heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to fight headaches, digestion problems, and nausea. And it helps relieve itching and muscle pain when applied topically. Peppermint can also enhance physical performance by opening our airways, allowing for better oxygen flow throughout our body and brain.
The citrus family is full of a wide range of aromatherapy scents with a ton of brain benefits. The more common citrus scents are lemon, orange, and grapefruit, but there are many other varieties such as bergamot, lemon balm, and lemongrass. Citrus helps lift our mood and reduces fatigue, giving us a boost of physical energy. It can help with focus by fighting mental fatigue.
Citrus is also a strong antiseptic, which is why it’s found in many household cleaning products. It can help with skin outbreaks such as acne when applied topically. Citrus increases blood flow, helping move oxygen throughout the body. There’s also evidence that citrus blends can strengthen our immune system, helping us stay healthy all year long.
Aromatherapy can be a complex endeavor with an incredible array of scents and oil combinations with a multitude of benefits. However, these three scent profiles are versatile and easy to find. By adding these simple aromatherapy scents throughout our day, we can smell our way into increased focus, higher levels of energy, and the deeper, more relaxed stages of sleep.