5 Scents That Heal
By Sharon Liao for Sniffle Solutions
The secret to better sleep, more energy and fewer cold symptoms may be right beneath your nose: A growing body of research shows that certain aromas can improve your well-being. “Scents trigger a reaction in the nervous system,” explains Dr. Julie Chen, an integrative physician and owner of Making Healthy EZ in San Jose, Calif. “And that can have an effect on the entire body.”
To find out which ones have the greatest healing powers, we sifted through the studies and consulted the experts. Get a whiff of these mind and body benefits!
1. Lavender for better sleep. Tired of counting sheep?
Scientists found that people who breathed in peppermint were faster and more accurate during clerical tests. They were also more aware and less frustrated while driving.
Try sniffing this fragrant purple flower. Researchers at Wesleyan University found that people who breathed in lavender essential oil before bedtime slept more soundly — and spent more time in restorative slow-wave sleep — than when they whiffed a placebo. “This aroma can help both adults and children relax,” adds Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami. In one study, she and her colleagues found that babies cried less and snoozed more when lavender-scented bath oil was added to their nighttime bath.
2. Peppermint for more energy. Put down that double espresso and unwrap a red-and-white striped candy: The cool smell stimulates the area of the brain associated with alertness and attention, say researchers from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. In a series of studies, the scientists found that people who breathed in peppermint were faster and more accurate during clerical tests. They were also more aware and less frustrated while driving.
3. Eucalyptus for cold symptoms. “Eucalyptus helps clear nasal passageways,” says Chen. Developing research suggests that it may help break up mucus, also loosening coughs, according to the National Institutes of Health.
What’s more, a study published in the journal Respiratory Medicine shows that eucalyptol, the active ingredient, has anti-inflammatory properties and may ease inflamed airways. “Whiffing eucalyptus won’t get rid of a cold,” says Chen. “But it may lessen those symptoms and suffering.”