These days, it feels like everyone is talking about aromatherapy. But when it comes to how this practice actually works, it seems like most people are still in the dark. While research is limited, studies suggest that aromatherapy may be correlated with physical and psychological well-being. From using lavender oil to quell a bout of anxiety to applying peppermint oil to alleviate a headache, there are some pretty compelling benefits of this health trend. Below we break them down and highlight six ways this practice can be used to aid in your day-to-day moods.

Aromatherapy oil

How Aromatherapy Works

Before we dive into the scents and all their benefits, let’s better understand how these oils work. According to Stephanie Tourles, a certified aromatherapist and author of Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide, the vapors from the oils stimulate the olfactory nerve (the area that “houses memories, emotions, desires, and appetites,” says Tourles) that directly impacts our body’s limbic system. After the scent is inhaled, molecules travel through the body, affecting its chemistry. It’s because of this that users will experience feel-good benefits like “relief from pain, renewing of damaged skin tissue, reduction of inflammation or fever, invigoration or relaxation of the senses, release of hormones, or a positive boost in mood or cognitive ability,” says Tourles. Sounds like a dream!


Different Methods for Use

Most people are familiar with the essential oil diffuser technique, but there are several other ways to reap the wellness benefits of these oils too. According to Tourles, inhaling directly from the bottle is the easiest and quickest way to enjoy the effects. To do so, position “the bottle directly under your nose, inhale deeply for several seconds, hold your breath for 5-10 seconds, then exhale through your mouth,” she recommends.

There are also other methods, like using portable inhaler sticks ($11) to conveniently inhale the oils on the go, or tucking cotton balls soaked in the substance in an article of clothing. More commonplace practices, like room sprays or massage oils, can be used based on specific needs too. Regardless of which mode you choose, it’s important to find a solution that works best for you.

Woman using aomatherapy

How to Use It to Help Your Mood

While there are many fragrances to choose from, they are all geared toward alleviating specific ailments and enhancing moods. Here’s a look at some of the common benefits you might be seeking in your day-to-day life.

1. Calmness/Relaxation: According to Puneet Nanda, founder of essential oils company GuruNanda, flower-based oils can produce soothing qualities. Try spritzing scents like lavender and rose water on your face to experience these calming effects. Or, use them as a duo to add extra oomph to your application.

2. De-Stress: Aromas like lavender or bergamot can act as nervous system tonics to refresh and rebalance the mood while stimulating happiness. Mix them with epsom salt for a spa-like, stress-relieving activity. (Don’t forget the candles and bubbles.)

3. Romance: Who needs Cupid? The floral scent ylang ylang is said to have aphrodisiac powers. So be sure to apply some of this before your next date!

4. Energy: Next time you feel like reaching for a coffee, try peppermint instead. It works as a natural stimulant to help you “wake you up, recharge, and reenergize,” says Nanda. On days when you feel you like you’re seriously dragging, a mobile diffuser loaded with peppermint can help you as you go.

5. Stability: Fragrances like frankincense have a grounding effect on the nervous system to sync mind, body, and spirit, says Tourles. To help bring back balance during bouts of depression, PMS, or mood swings, add a few drops of this to your diffuser.

6. Alertness: Do you have an important meeting at work, or are you putting together a presentation? When you really need to be on top of your game, look to scents like rosemary or peppermint oil to encourage attentiveness. According to Nanda, positioning a diffuser in your office with these notes can be an effective tool to promote focus while you work.

Have you tried aromatherapy? Let us know if it’s working for you at @BritandCo.

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