The Sense of Scents

Yes, for me it was love at first smell. It was called aromatherapy, and without science, without logic, I was in! I was eight years old, and my aunt was studying massage therapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine. When I regarded her kit of essential oils, I couldn't help but dive into each one, basking in the many colors of peace the smells evoked. Aromatherapy helped me to feel alive, anchored in my senses, awakened my awareness like a walk in the rain without an umbrella or the view from a mountaintop. The olfactory receptor on the brain is not so far from where emotions seem to be processed, and so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised by my emotional reaction. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affaire with scents. A love arose which at first seemed senseless, and found me wandering the aromatherapy section of health food stores, diffusing scents into every room of my every abode for every purpose, and bathing my life with scents which have served to support my well being. But perhaps my sensual affaire with scents was not so senseless after all.

I guess I wasn't the only one infatuated with inhaling inspiration through aromatherapy because now there is science confirming its many benefits. Used for centuries to heal and nurture, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that scientists have figured that it works. Ancient civilization including (but not limited to) Romans, Greeks, Chinese, Indians, and Egyptians, give us evidence of aromatherapy's old and deep roots with humans. Aromas can be extracted by distillation, or infusion which is simply placing a flower or leaf in oil or alcohol.

More recently, Jean Valnet used essential oils medicinally during World War II. Lemon, clove, thyme, yarrow, basil, rosemary, and sage essential oils have modern science touting their benefits. Bergamot essential oil has neuro-protective benefits. Without negative side effects, essential oils have been shown to help alleviate anxiety again and again. Eucalyptus oil has proven not only to be antibiotic, but also anti-inflammatory.

Not that I could have broken off my mad tryst with essential oils if I'd wanted to, at least I am comforted to know the benefits or aromatherapy are as real to science as they are to my life.