I have to admit…my nose is NOT one of my favorite features. It’s not so much because of the way it looks…it just looks like a nose and ALL noses are kind of funny looking. No, my nose is not my favorite feature simply because I live in a house full of smelly boys. I mean seriously…what is up with males and BAD smells??? Not only do they spend a lot of time stinking up the place–they always seem so PROUD of themselves for it. I DON’T GET IT!
What I do get however; is how beneficial our sense of smell can be provided we are NOT at my house when my boys are home. Not only is it just plain nice to smell things like flowers, freshly mowed lawns, rain and Pink Chiffon body lotion from Bath & Body Works–our sense of smell can also benefit us in other FabYOUlous ways.
I never bothered to study aromatherapy that much until I began working for a nonprofit breast cancer support center (for more information on Hope Lives click here) but lately I’ve been hearing so many great things from our clients that I decided to do some homework. As it turns out…aromatherapy really can promote health and make a difference in our overall well being. There is a TON of research out there for anyone who wants to dig deeper into this subject but I’ve decided to cover just a few, simple aromatherapy examples that anyone can begin using to make life more FabYOUlous.
We all know that the Vitamin C from oranges is good for us but did you know that just sniffing an orange has benefits as well? An Australian study tested this theory by using an orange scent in a dental office. As it turns out, researchers discovered that the dental patients who were exposed to the orange scent experienced a dramatic drop in their anxiety levels. Further research shows that orange and other citrus scents can help us to feel more awake in the morning (or anytime we need a little energy boost) and help to promote a more positive mood and greater sense of calm.
Another beneficial scent is one that I especially LOVE…buttered popcorn. I will even let my husband talk me into seeing some ridiculous man movie just so I can go gorge myself with a big bucket of buttered popcorn. Now unfortunately, eating the popcorn has absolutely no health benefits whatsoever (BOO!) but smelling the popcorn is another story. A recent study has shown that inhaling the scent of buttered popcorn while doing light activities (like walking) helped subjects to burn 22% more calories. Yes–buttered popcorn can actually help you LOSE weight (but only if it NEVER enters your mouth!) This is because the scent triggers the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins that help to speed metabolism. Remember though…this benefit only applies if the popcorn stays OUT of your mouth–DARN!
Before you get too sad about not being able to eat the popcorn, here’s one that will cheer you and your taste buds back up. There has been a lot of talk lately about the health benefits of eating a bit of dark chocolate every day. Well, as it turns out–smelling chocolate has some benefit as well. In fact, if you need to accomplish a task where you need to memorize something, try scenting your room with chocolate. Scientists say that smelling chocolate stimulates the brain’s limbic system which is responsible for memory. In a test, subjects who memorized a list of words in a chocolate scented room were able to recall 21% more words than subjects who were in an unscented room. Give this one a try when your kiddo is studying for a spelling test or you need to memorize facts for a presentation at work.
Now, if you’re still in a funk over the whole not able to eat the popcorn thing, there is another trick you can try to cheer yourself up. Go sniff some hot peppers. Don’t touch the peppers to your nose (or especially your eyes–that could burn) but do give them a quick sniff. As it turns out, the capsaicin in peppers will irritate your nasal passages which will then trigger your body to produce more pain-busting endorphins that will in turn, give you a quick jolt of feel-good energy. Feeling any better about the popcorn yet?
One of my all time favorite scents has to be vanilla. I love vanilla candles, bubble bath, lotion, potpourri etc. I think I have always intuitively known that vanilla had a calming effect on me, but now that hunch has been proven by science. In a recent hospital study, patients who had to undergo an MRI (stressful for anyone!) felt 63% less claustrophobic and anxious after being exposed to the scent of vanilla. Scientists believe that this is because the scent of vanilla evokes pleasant childhood memories in most everyone–I know that it certainly does for me. I think I’ll start passing this info on to our amazing Hope Lives clients–maybe it can help with the anxiety of going through chemo and radiation.
Finally, I’m sure that most of us are aware of the awesome sleep inducing qualities in lavender–you can find pillows, sleep masks, soaps and candles scented with this dreamy fragrance–but did you know that smelling lavender can also help to alleviate pain? A sniff study was conducted on intensive care patients and found that nearly all subjects felt better when they were exposed to the scent of lavender. Another study showed that postpartum women found significant pain relief in the first few days after childbirth if they were regularly exposed to lavender fragrance candles. Brain wave studies have shown that smelling lavender increases alpha waves within the brain which are associated with relaxation and pain easement.
All of these tests have me wondering if anyone has ever tested the negative effects that bad smells can have on us. If any researchers would like to come hang out with the men in my family, I’m sure a lot of data could be gathered–HA! In all seriousness though, there truly is a lot of science to validate the effectiveness of aromatherapy and it’s something that is rather easy to practice with a few nicely scented candles or some essential oils. If something this easy can lead to a more FabYOUlous life why not give it a try?