Fragrance is like music. Personal preferences and associations greatly influence a person’s response to music’s loudness, style, and the types of harmonies being used – not to mention the lyrics – so that the response is unpredictable and its causes unclear. Much of the aromatherapy information presented as fact today is based on folklore or inconclusive early research.
Smell and Memory
Scent is the sense closest linked to memory. Studies have shown that people can remember a scent with 65% accuracy after 1 year while visual memory sinks to 50% after only a few months. The smells we experience play a crucial role in how we associate with memories and places. Have you ever come across a whiff of something that instantly takes you back to an old memory? Whether it reminds you of your mother’s cooking or a childhood trip to the ocean, a distinctive scent sinks into your brain and stays there.
Smell and Emotion
The perception of smell consists not only of the sensation of the odours themselves but of the experiences and emotions associated with these sensations. Smells can evoke strong emotional reactions. In surveys on reactions to odours, responses show that many of our olfactory likes and dislikes are based purely on emotional associations.
Smell and Health Care
Creating a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere for patients is a challenge for every health care facility, be it large or small. For example, lavender fragrances have been used in nursing homes to calm residents and emergency rooms to calm worried visitors. Additionally, hospitals, treatment centers and nursing homes are prone to musky smells and malodors making it imperative that the facilities invest in a scenting solution.
Smell and Productivity
Aromatherapy probably isn’t the first tool you think of to help boost your productivity and grow your business, but maybe it should be. Smell is the strongest of the senses and is best able to influence brain activity. Our senses of smell can even affect productivity in office environments. Specific smells have been found to increase alertness which in turn results in higher productivity rates. One study found that when lemon oil was diffused throughout a Japanese office building, productivity among data entry operators increased by 54%.
Once you’ve recognized this ability of fragrance to alter mood and performance, the next step is figuring our which scent to use, and when. Common recommendations for getting energy, subdue anxiety, and help bring on the drowsies are below.
To Sleep and Rest
In studies, lavender has been proven to increase drowsiness, and help bring on sleep and relaxation amongst people exposed to the scent. One study providing lavender-scented items to fifty women attending college concluded, “…lavender fragrance had a beneficial effect on insomnia.”
Bring on the lemon, orange, and other citrus to help curb anxiety — as well as being mood-brighteners, these scents help
quell stress and tension. A study done in 2008 found “robust evidence that lemon oil reliably enhances positive mood compared to water and lavender regardless of expectancies or previous use of aromatherapy.”
Research from Wheeling Jesuit University finds that peppermint “reduce perceived physical workload, temporal workload, effort and frustration in athletes.” Participants also reported having higher energy, and less fatigue, with the use of peppermint. Studies also find that rosemary is a sure-fire way to increase alertness.