The power of smell has been used by the Chinese, Romans, native Americans, and in India, the Middle East, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece. In ancient times, rare perfumes were highly prized and cost vast amounts of money. Aromas are mentioned in all religious texts to be used to produce altered states or to connect with a higher energy. The gifts to the baby Jesus from the three magi besides gold were frankincense and myrrh.
Even in modern society, we are aware of the effects of smell. Think back to when you experienced the smell of the sea, fresh-cut grass, or a forest. Aroma triggers memories and emotions—think of fresh strawberries, coffee, freshly baked bread, or your grandmother’s cooking.
I remember once walking in London when I smelt “Afghanistan.” It’s a very distinct smell with a rich combination of food, incense dust and animals. I was immediately transported back to one of my favourite places and gained a great sense of happiness and warmth. It is important to work with your own associations and to use the aromas (usually in the form of essential oils) that are pleasing to you.
Key Aromas and Their Benefits
Please take care when using essential oils if you are pregnant, as some of them can be dangerous during pregnancy. When using oil burners, please remember that the water does evaporate so you need to keep an eye on the water level. As with all candles, make sure you are safe. Remember, never ever leave a burning candle unattended.
- Cardamom: puts a spring in your step and aids youthfulness.
- Frankincense: Cleopatra loved it and it has been used by the Catholic Church during mass for centuries. It is very spiritual and will cleanse your environment and protect you. If you are having relationship problems, it can help “clear the air.”
- Grapefruit: gives confidence and energy and lifts your spirits so it’s ideal before a party. I have seen clients beam with happi- ness after a bout of depression just with this one smell.
- Jasmine: Many years ago in north Africa I caught an unusual smell. I asked a local man what it was and he told me “jas- mine.” He picked me a flower from his garden and told me to wear it in my hair, and added, “You will always have love in your life if you have jasmine with you. This is why our women always smile.” It’s a wonderful scent if you feel lost and alone. It sends a message out to the universe that you have love in your heart that you want to share with someone special.
- Lavender: Who hasn’t smelt lavender on a summer’s day and im- mediately felt peaceful? We have some growing near my office and as soon as I smell it, I smile. It is known to help you relax,
- aid restful sleep and relieve tension headaches.
- Lemon: Cleanses after illness, hurt, or if someone leaves a bad atmosphere.
- Mandarin: I call this the “smiley” smell. It is almost childlike, especially when you have been feeling negative or hopeless as in—”I won’t ever meet anyone.”
- Nutmeg: This can also be used in a warm drink. It is soothing and comforting. If you are feeling vulnerable, drinking nut- meg in frothy milk is like being wrapped in a warm blanket.
- Orange blossom: Fantastic for helping anxiety, shock, panic, and heart palpitations.
- Peppermint: The romans loved peppermint. When too much has been going on, peppermint will clear the way and calm things down. It’s also a good for digestion.
- Rose: Very good to use after trauma, grief, or great sadness. Helps the emotions to heal.
- Rosemary: A wonderful stimulant, especially if you are lacking energy or get-up-and-go in your work or personal life. A client recently told me she needs to go out and meet someone, but after a hard day’s work and long commute home she flops into the chair and cannot muster the energy. A spray of rosemary and she took up dancing and met the love of her life. When he told her he was attracted to her vibrancy, she laughed and said, “He wouldn’t have said that if he’d seen me a short time ago before I started using my rosemary spray.”
- Sandalwood: From India and used for over 4,000 years, mentally soothing and relaxing.
- Ylang ylang: good for people who work too hard and find they are getting overly sensitive or irritable, and quarrelsome in their relationships. Instead of an annoyance causing an argument, you shrug your shoulders and think, ‘So what?’