Have you ever walked down a street, smelt a certain fragrance and remembered a beautiful, sad or scary moment? Mangos have this effect on me. Every time I open a mango and the sweet smell enters my surroundings, I remember all the good times I had playing with my best friends, climbing big old mango trees at Ecocentro IPEC.
Did you know that it takes half a second to react to an odour?
The aroma is directed to the brain’s limbic system, where memory and emotions are stored and where some behaviour patterns are fired. It is for this reason that certain flavours and fragrances evoke memories.
The art of working with the smells is called aromatherapy. Aromatherapists believe that inhalation of different fragrances produces different effects. Essential oils are used to promote relaxation and rejuvenation. It’s believed that essential oils can nourish the soul, body and mind.
Essential Oil Profiles
As my final exams are approaching I’ve started feeling a little frazzled. Late nights and hours of reading and writing can take its toll. So as my finals are approaching I found myself opening my aromatherapy kit more and more.
My favourite study essential oils are thyme, basil, mint, rosemary and bergamot.
Thyme essential oil stimulates circulation and nervous responses adding up to a noticeable energy boost. Inhaling the aromatic compounds of the herb can give an energetic push, exactly what you need during the last days of cramming for that test. It is also antispasmodic, bactericidal and a vermifuge substance.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)essential oil is used for treating the nervous system and mental fatigue. Two areas that are often affected during exam time. The uplifting smell has been used to treat melancholy, depression, respiratory problems, constipation and asthma.
Rosemary(Rosmarinus officinalis) has now been proven to increase memory by up to 75%. Perfect for my exams. It is also used to relieve sore muscles and arthritis. Rosemary oil is added to many natural hair products as it helps control dandruff. Traditionally used for neuralgia, poor circulation and rheumatism.
Peppermint (mentha piperita) essential oil helps to reduce stress. Rubbing a little peppermint oil on the temples aids to relieve headaches. An instant “wake me up” oil. If you are feeling really nervous on test day, make yourself a cup of peppermint tea to calm the nerves.
Bergamot(Citrus bergamia) essential oil is lovingly known as the happy oil as it brings a sense of lightness. It is believed to relieve stress, anxiety and distress. So its perfect for the exam times when my stress levels increase a little. Also used to treat acne, boils, cystitis, halitosis, itching, loss of appetite, oily skin and psoriasis.
The inhalation of essential oils is one way to bring the plant to our consciousness. My mother tells me that she used lavender to help me sleep as a small child and chamomile to relieve my skin irritations. Until today I enjoy both of these plants.
Curiosities: Women have a greater sense of smell than men and it intensifies during ovulation. Our sense of smell is stronger at night than in the morning.
Exam Preparation Aroma Recipe
Safety Guidelines for Essential Oils
Essential oils, extracted from plants have been used for centuries as incense, perfume and lotions. However, like any other medication, there are some basic safety guidelines for their proper use.
- When buying essential oils find a reputable dealer, always buy 100% pure essential oils.
- Essential oils should not be used directly on the skin without being diluted. Some oils can cause allergic reactions in some people.
- Less is more. When using essential oils, use as little as possible to achieve the goal.
- Essential oils can be flammable.
- Do not ingest essential oils, despite recent marketing essential oils are extremely potent and can cause serious liver damage.
Some essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy or by those with asthma, epilepsy or other health problems. When in doubt, ask your doctor, naturopath and/or aromatherapist.