For thousands years it is said that the natural fragrances of flowers, fruits, spices and plants in general and their essential oils have numerous properties, which stimulate the senses, relieve physical and emotional negative symptoms and also heal diseases.
Since 6000 years ago the Egyptian people were the first to use the properties of essences, followed by Greek, Indian, Chinese and many cultures to the present day.
The ancient texts of Ayurveda medicine also recognized the healing power of scents to remove distress, anxiety, elevate the spirit and promote good sleep, among numerous other benefits.
Smell is one of the senses that most influence the emotions and instincts, both positive and negatively.
It brings memories and provokes feelings intimately related to the perceived smell. It also can attract or repel people.
Try just a simple experiment when you feel the sweet smell of a cake while it is baking in the kitchen and immediately you remember your grandmother, mother or the person who was preparing the recipe, for example. Or perhaps, feel the strong smell of the breeze of ocean or from wet woods and forest, and remember holidays or some remarkable time spent on the beach or in the countryside? Or when we remember someone after feeling his/her perfume.
Smell also protects us when we feel the stench of spoiled food, and it prevents us to avoid contamination or to perceive a burning environment can be life saving.
There are several ways to enjoy and use aromas as therapy, and the options include essential oils to massage the skin, to add to the bath, environmental scents, incenses and candles (also used by many religions), and teas, for example. It is also possible to treat various diseases or enhance immunity by compresses on skin and even perfumes and cosmetics. Besides many benefits, the scents can improve mood, relax mind and relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression.
To enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy, add about 5 drops of essential oil in hot water, relax and let the smell flow. You can also use a diffuser or scented candle. And when you are too busy to make this relaxing ritual, you can also put a few drops of oil on your wrist or back of the hand and inhale periodically.
In Ayurveda the use of scents may be more specific and personalized to create balance, according to the 3 “biotypes” Doshas, Vata, Kapha and Pitta made by five elements of nature:
VATA (Air + Ether) – sweet essential oils are ideal to heat the body and calm the mind and emotions, which are naturally restless and anxious in increased Vata, thus it brings serenity and focus. The spicy aroma is also welcome. Some indicated essences are: roses, geranium, lavender, orange, anise, cloves, vanilla, patchouli, fennel and rosemary (great in the form of teas to eliminate gas).
PITTA (Fire + Water) – sweet and refreshing scented oils are indicated such as: rose, jasmine, mint and sandalwood, and hibiscus and mint tea, to bring serenity, patience and freshness to the fiery temper, when fire is increased in Pitta. For possible skin problems that might arise, massage and compresses with refreshing oils and herbs are also indicated.
KAPHA (Water + Earth) – stimulating and warming scented oils are indicated as: cinnamon, cedar and camphor to balance the natural tendency of Kapha to inertia and cold. Also ginger tea, sage, eucalyptus, basil and cinnamon are benefic to warm up and to remove mucus.