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Aromas affect mood and evoke memories. For example, Frankincense and Cypress have been said to aid in dispelling grief, while Ylang Ylang and Juniper are claimed to aid in coping with guilt.
Aromas can affect mood and evoke memories. If the smell of baking cookies, a smoky campfire, or a lover’s favorite perfume have ever transported you back in time, calling up long-forgotten events and feelings, then you have experienced the powerful association between aromas, emotions, and memories. Long before modern scientists began the study of the physiological processes that underlie this association, human beings were exploring and utilizing the power of fragrant substances in their daily lives.
Many ancient cultures, including those of India, China, and Persia have left records that document their use of fragrance for its effect on mental states and feelings. The Egyptians, in particular, made extensive use of incense and fragrant oils in their religious rituals. Kyphi, an incense containing at least 16 herbs and other fragrant plants such as Juniper, Cinnamon, and Myrrh, was used by Egyptian priests to facilitate the attainment of ecstatic states during religious rites.
Virtually every culture has reported aphrodisiacal properties for various fragrances. In the harems, Sandalwood and Rose were prized for enhancing sexual desire and the essential oils of Vetiver, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Ginger, and Clary Sage have all been used for this purpose. Many ancient peoples, such as the Romans, became very skilled at utilizing certain fragrant plants for evoking specific mental states and aromatherapy lore reports highly selective effects for specific essential oils. For example, Frankincense and Cypress have been said to aid in dispelling grief, while Ylang Ylang and Juniper are claimed to aid in coping with guilt.
Today, we continue to be aware of the impact of aromas on moods and other aspects of our states of mind, such as alertness, sexual drive, and aggressiveness. Retailers have even attempted to "cash in” on our innate responsiveness to scents by impregnating the air in their stores with fragrances which they believe will stimulate shoppers to make purchases. Their efforts often go awry, however, because those attempting to utilize aromas in this way frequently fail to distinguish between the beneficial effects of natural plant aromas and the deleterious effects of synthetic fragrances, which cause headaches and other unpleasant symptoms in many people.
Modern research supports our intuitive recognition of the impact of aromas on mood and other mental states. Different essential oils have been shown to produce consistently different brain wave patterns on EEG, even when experimental subjects have reported
In her recent book, The Fragrant Mind, Valerie Ann Worwood, a
Aromas may also be utilized in a conscious, intentional way to
Any odor may acquire the ability to elicit a memory of a specific event, and the feelings associated with that
Students can utilize this association in a very practical way by diffusing a small amount of any personally pleasing, uplifting essential oil into the room while they study and then later inhaling a little bit of the same aroma from a bottle while taking their test. There is a good chance that recall will be stimulated, at least to some extent, by inhaling the same aroma that was used while studying. Don't assume that you can study less, however!
The bond between odor and memory also provides a potential tool in psychotherapeutic settings, where practitioners may be able to facilitate recall of events by presenting aromas that were linked with those events. In addition, therapists may utilize classical conditioning techniques to pair specific odors with desirable mental states (such as relaxation) so that the odor may later be used to elicit the state. It is even possible that some complex physiological reactions could be classically conditioned by pairing specific odors with the administration of certain drugs by a physician.
There are many ways to enjoy the subtle effects of aromas at home. First, use only aromatic substances that are completely natural, as synthetic fragrances do not have the beneficial actions of natural ones and can cause headaches, palpitations, and other unpleasant symptoms. Consider your personal experiences and try to determine from these experiences which odors may have beneficial associations and which may have been associated with distressing events.
For personal use at home, stick with aromas that have pleasing associations and effects. Fresh or dried herbs, flowers, or even some foods (such as apple pie) may be placed about the home so that their scents disperse into the air. In the spring and summer, a trip to the garden can provide a magical aromatic experience that is enhanced by the sight and feel of the plants and the sounds of chirping birds, rustling foliage
Essential oils offer perhaps the most convenient and powerful way to experience the beneficial effects of aromas. Essential oils are highly concentrated, fragrant plant extracts that are obtained by distillation or cold pressing of plant material. Essential oils can be utilized by diffusing them into the air, applying them diluted in a massage oil, or by adding a few drops to a warm bath.
Because essential oils are so concentrated, only a very small amount is needed -