Scents for working, sleeping & flirting
The scents of fresh-roasted chile, piñon smoke on a cold night, and the desert after the first rain of the season are as much a part of Santa Fe’s personality as coconut oil and plumeria are emblematic of Maui. And, according to practitioners of aromatherapy, the right aroma at the right time can evoke nostalgia, calm anxiety, uplift spirits, help us sleep and even take the edge off a bad headache.
“From our perspective, the benefits are multidimensional,” says master medicinal aromatherapist Audre Gutierrez, owner of Shining Sun Aromatherapy in Santa Fe. She partners with the Sedona, Arizonabased Wisdom of the Earth company, which in turn works with small farmers to produce and bottle pure essential oils. “The thing that’s important about essential oils is that when they’re pure medicinal-grade essences they harmonize the body.”
Good to know
Only use essential oils when they are diluted — either in water, carrier oil or a lotion or cream. Some oils are irritating to the skin, and can make you more sensitive to sunlight. Anyone who is pregnant, has a compromised immune system or a chronic disease should consult with a trained aromatherapist on the most helpful scents for personal use. Overall, these fragrances work well in diffusers and have gentle, positive benefits:
Lavender for a good sleep
It’s been shown to treat insomnia and ease depression, working almost instantly.
Cinnamon for a sharper mind
A study from Wheeling Jesuit University found that a sniff of the spice improved visual-motor response, working memory and attention span.
Pine for less stress
In one Japanese study, participants who went on a walk through pine forests reported significantly lower depression and stress levels.
Fresh-cut grass for more joy
A chemical released by newly cut grass can make people feel joyful and relaxed and prevent the mental decline of aging.
Citrus for energy
Lemon and orange essential oils are antiseptic and antibacterial, and the smells can increase energy and alertness.
Vanilla for a better mood
Researchers found that inhaling the scent of a vanilla bean elevated participants’ feelings of joy and relaxation.
Pumpkin for flirtation
In a study by The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, 40 percent of the male test subjects responded positively to female subjects wearing a pumpkin scent combined with lavender.
Peppermint for getting to work
A study out of Wheeling Jesuit University found that smelling peppermint could be linked to greater cognitive stamina, motivation and overall performance.
Jasmine for uplift
A 2010 study found that the smell of jasmine creates a sense of alertness, and can help relieve depression.
Apples and basil for headache relief
One 2008 study showed that those who found the scent appealing had a noticeable reduction in headache symptoms as well as shortened migraine episodes. Other studies have found the scent may help control anxiety during stressful moments. In Italy, basil is routinely used to help with headaches and nasal congestion, and has long been used as a folk remedy for preventing bad dreams.