Out of the five senses, our sense of smell seems to be the least popular in general knowledge and discussions. It’s not widely known that every individual has their own odor just as distinct as their fingerprint, or that the sense of smell is the oldest sense on Earth. However, those of us with keen noses know how important, and sometimes even personal, our sense of smell can be.
Smell can trigger recollections and even emotions by small things such as a warm slice of apple pie or the hint of blooming jasmine in the air. This thought recognition is due to the fact that smell is the only one of our five senses with a direct connection to our brain. The medical field has linked this natural psychological connection to a practice called “aromatherapy,” which enhances an individual’s mental and physical healing process.
Aromatherapy is not just about great-smelling fragrances, as most people are led to believe; it’s actually an ancient practice that utilizes aromatic essential oils derived from a wide variety of healing plants. Many modern studies provide evidence that essential oils can improve short-term health problems, as well as more serious disorders. Health conditions that may benefit from aromatherapy include chronic stress, anxiety, joint pain, respiratory infections, digestive upset, cancer symptoms or side effects, fatigue, and skin disorders, just to name a few. Maybe this is why my grandma always smells like peppermint?
It may be difficult to initially understand how this practice works, yet it makes a lot more sense as we break it down. In nature, a plant’s flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots, and other parts contain natural oils to protect themselves from insects and rodents, as well as defend themselves against harmful viruses and bacteria. Essential oils are a very concentrated, distilled formula of these beneficial active ingredients. To replicate this natural process, a variety of organic essential oils are available for personal use from your local natural food market. Aromatherapy can be performed at home by diffusing essential oils in the air, through topical application, by soaking in an oil-infused bath, or by receiving oil-infused massage therapy at a medical office.
The most widely used aromatherapy essential oils are derived from roses, zest from citrus fruits, frankincense, ginger root, eucalyptus leaves, lavender, peppermint, pine, and lemongrass, and each possesses its own healing properties.
While our sense of smell isn’t as commonly discussed as our other senses, many people have always known how important smell has been in our lives. What a great treasure to know it can not only connect us with something tangible, but that it also has the power to reconnect and heal our mind, body, and spirit, as proven by medical research.
We’re told it’s the little things in life that matter, and this month, that may mean adding something as small as a bottle or two of essential oils to your nightstand drawer for self-care. It may be the nose really knows the best-kept sensory secret of all!
Shawna Sabedra is a freelance writer