AROMA: SCENT AND SANITY

Many of us who have had a house or apartment for sale have heard this advice from brokers: “Have some fresh bread baking when prospective buyers come over for a viewing.” 

The advice points to the important, yet often overlooked power of our olfactory sense. We all know intuitively that smells, nasty or nice, stimulate memory. And aromatherapy, the science of enhancing mood and relaxation through the use of essential oils will also likely be known to many readers. Then there are the studies which purport to show that love at first sight has perhaps more to do with the whiff of congenial pheromones--otherwise known as the scent of sex--than with visual stimuli. (Vanilla, for example, is known as an enhancer of female pheromones.)

But likes and dislikes of particular smells are often highly individual. There is no sure formula for either relaxation or love, if the sniffer abhors a certain smell. I can’t stand it, for instance, when my friend Petra, an aromatherapy devotee, uncorks the geranium essence! Nor am I especially keen on that yoga studio standby, lavender oil. 

 The Sweet Smell of Real Estate 

High-end New York apartment and condominium buildings have caught onto the olfactory manipulation hotels have been using for years, infusing lobbies, hallways and fitness centers with fragrances. Sometimes they are blown in through the ductwork, other times stand-alone machines do the job. Fragrances that smell of the beach soothe city-weary residents in summer; at Christmas time, one might smell the aroma of hot apple cider and cinnamon.  

Scented buildings are becoming big business, with companies like North Carolina-based ScentAir providing fragrances for 67 luxury residential buildings in the New York area; or 12.19, the New York fragrance design company founded by twin sisters Dawn and Samantha Goldworm, who cannily noted that smell is an integral, often overlooked component of the luxury experience and sought to fill the gap with signature fragrances, notably a rarefied blend called Craft, which now fills the lobbies of Manhattan real estate developer DDG’s properties. Of Craft, Dawn Goldworm told The New York Times, “The scent is very much plain, with the warmth of wood milk...also a slightly creamy ambery, textural feeling with all these natural wood notes.” 

Perfuming Your Private Life 

Within our homes, we are free to surround ourselves with whatever odors please us by using a diffuser, a small vessel, often made of ceramic, with a small tea candle below gently heating the essential oil in a dish above. Other, more state-of-the-art diffusers electronically release a vapor using purified water.  

Diffused essential oils--notably a concoction of lavender, peppermint, and frankincense--have powerful antispasmodic and anti-allergy properties, helping markedly even with asthma attacks. 

Diffusing also helps with deodorizing your household and soothing shattered nerves. Try diffusing any of these to promote a calm and stress-free atmosphere:  chamomile, patchouli, lemon, or lavender. 

When you’re in the mood for love, try diffusing a blend of ylang-ylang, clary sage, and allspice in the air surrounding your partner. If you don’t think smell provokes amorousness, consider these heady words in the Bible from the Song of Solomon: While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.  A bundle of myrrh is my well beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts”. 

Recipes for the E.R. 

The diffusion of essential oils is also finding an important place in hospital settings. All too often, a hospital has the rather depressing smell of disinfectant. Vanderbilt Hospital in Tennessee decided to experiment with pleasant-smelling essential oils in its Emergency Room--not as a palliative for patients, but to see whether aromatherapy would boost productivity among hospital personnel. They chose doTERRA Citrus Bliss and were amazed at the results. Before the hospital began using the oils, 41 percent of staff said they were stressed out at work. After experiencing Citrus Bliss, only 3 percent still felt stressed. Sixty percent of staff had felt frustrated before the diffusion of Citrus Bliss; that number plummeted to 6 percent. 

How does diffusion work? Diffusion distributes essential oil molecules through the air, which, when inhaled, come into contact with nerves that send them directly to the brain.  

 

If you don’t yet have a diffuser, you can simply open a bottle of your essential oil of choice and breathe, or place a few drops in the palm of your hand, rubbing your hands together, then cupping them over your mouth and inhaling.This is a quick and safe way of letting the essential oils go to work for you. 

Scent seems to hold much promise as a 21st century path to sanity. Enjoy!

 

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