When I hear a tune on the radio that I haven’t heard in years, it evokes potent memories. When I smell certain scents, they may remind me of anything from my grandmother to my favorite hotel. My Paris stories are always filled with smells: the patisserie on the corner, the open rotisserie pits at the farmer’s market, and one of Paris’ most wonderful hotels.
My favorite Parisian hotel has a fragrance that creates such wonderful warmth and memories. The minute I walk in the door, it surrounds me, and I get that ahhhhh feeling. The managers understand the power of aromatherapy, and the fragrance carries through the hotel from the front desk and sitting room to the small hotel amenities in the bathroom. It was when I smelled it for the first time on the streets back in the United States that I realized the power of scent.
Last month, I decided to do a little test as I ordered an aromatherapy diffuser and a variety of essential oils. I’ve heard all sorts of claims, but I’m a skeptic. I wondered:
- Would I find having a scented home overpowering?
- Would I react differently to one aroma over another?
- Most of all, would I notice anything other than the fact that my house smells better?
The First Thing I Learned
If you have a positive or negative memory associated with any scent, it will bring back those memories. There is no way I’d ever put Lily of the Valley in a diffuser. I’d walk around with a headache and miserable. Why? My second grade teacher wore that scent, and she was as mean as they come. That feeling remains with me over 50 years later. When I smell Lily of the Valley, I turn into the scared kid sitting in the back of the classroom. Before you begin using aromatherapy in your home, you have to honor the past experiences you link with scent.
If, like me, this is your first experiment with aromatherapy, keep it simple. An aromatherapy plug-in diffuser with a scent ball is the easiest way to get the scent into your home or office. It’s easy to use; you simply put 5 to 10 drops on the reusable pad and place it in the diffuser. Plug in the diffuser, and voila! Within minutes, you will begin to experience that essential oil. I figure if I love using aromatherapy, I can always upgrade later.
Experiment. I find that 10 drops are too many when I’m using lavender to relax. I don’t like to be overpowered by smell. If I’m looking for a little pick me up, I do need those 10 drops to really get me going.
I was overwhelmed when I looked at the various essential oils available. I could spend days–no, make that months–learning about the benefits of each of the oils. My motto has always been to start off slowly and keep it simple. Rather than spending a fortune on a huge assortment, I chose a variety of four to begin with.
- Aromappeal® Lavender 100% Pure Essential Oil: Traditionally, lavender oil has a calming effect, but I seem to have a hypersensitive sense of smell. If I use too much, it has just the opposite effect on me. I tend to be ultra-conservative with lavender, and a mere 5 drops in my diffuser is all I need. If I really need some me time, a few drops in the bathtub take me completely away. I add some of my favorite music, a bath pillow, and candles (lavender scented, of course), and I’ve created my perfect spa getaway. Remember, the amount you use is based on your own sense of smell.
- Aromappeal® Peppermint 100% Pure Essential Oil: I realized that I love using a peppermint soap to really get me going in the morning, so I’ve been trying to use this peppermint oil during the day. I turn up the scent in the late afternoon when I have that slump (Here’s where I go for the full 10 drops.). I know it’s got to be better for me than that afternoon cup of coffee that perks me up but leaves me in a bigger slump when the caffeine wears off.
- Aromappeal® Eucalyptus 100% Pure Essential Oil: Back in the late 60s and early 70s, I used to buy dried eucalyptus branches. They were cool and everyone had them. While this essential oil can cultivate your senses and refresh your outlook, there’s more to it for me. It brings back memories of the days when I wore imported Indian clothes and bell bottoms while we sat around discussing how to change the world. Yes, eucalyptus is a powerful memory scent for me. It puts a smile on my face (and takes years off my mind) when I place a few drops in my diffuser.
- Aromappeal® Wonder Oil: While the other three essential oils I chose were varietals, I picked one that was a blend of scents. The olive, sunflower seed, wheat germ, sweet almond, sesame and jojoba oils in this blend are all great for your skin. And since it’s also enriched with citrus scents (grapefruit, lemon and orange), it also reminds me of my grandmother’s baking. On the plus side, I figure that since they’re the traditional oils I’d use on my hair and skin, with winter coming (and the house getting dry from the heat being turned on), I can use all the moisture I can get.
If you’re new to aromatherapy like I am, my suggestion is to keep it simple and start with just a few scents like those I mentioned above. If there are scents you know evoke great memories, do a little digging to learn which essential oils will have that same effect. For example, the scent that reminds you of your first love might have been made from sandalwood. Add those memory evokers to your mix. They might just lift your spirits, relax you after a particularly hard day, or remind you of fun times.