When you think of fall, does the scent of freshly baked apple pie or a blend of cinnamon and pumpkin come to mind?
“Smells trigger emotions, and we all have certain scents we enjoy,” says Dona Burke, an essential oils and wellness coach who offers classes at the Program in Women’s Oncology at Women & Infants Hospital. “Think of the smell of warm chocolate chip cookies, or that aroma you can smell when you slice an orange.”
Researchers in the Laboratory of Cognitive Neurobiology at Boston University have shown that scents are linked to the emotional center of the brain which trigger happy feelings.
Burke adds that the essential oils used in aromatherapy support 12 different body systems, including the immune system, nervous system, muscular/skeletal system and our emotions.
“High-grade therapeutic oils, which I use, affect the emotional part of the brain within 20 seconds,” she says. “You can feel the emotional effect of the scent that quickly.”
It is the natural chemical components of the oils that are beneficial, Burke says. To enjoy the benefits of the scent, you can:
- Mix drops into your moisturizer before rubbing it into your skin.
- Get a massage with scented oils.
- Add a few drops to a warm bath.
- Sprinkle a few drops on a hot or cold compress that you hold onto an affected area.
- Add a few drops to a cotton ball that you tuck into the air vent in your car.
- Mix with water in a spray bottle to mist on your sheets.
While the essential oils Burke uses tend to derive from nature such as lavender, frankincense, peppermint and lemon, there has been other research that shows familiar fall scents can have a positive impact on our state of mind. Different studies have revealed that:
- The scent of cinnamon can boost brain function, including memory and attention span.
- A whiff of apple can ease the intensity and duration of migraines.
- The aroma of nutmeg can provide stress relief and help you fall asleep.