Aromatherapy (Mental Health Series Part 11)
Welcome back to this series on mental health. I am delighted to have you back for this blog. As I mentioned in the first part of this series, I will now talk about aromatherapy in the hopes that it could help you with your state of mind after sustaining a spinal cord injury (SCI)!
Aromatherapy involves inhaling essential oils or incense. To use incense, you light it with a lighter, blow out the flame and the scent of the incense spreads throughout the air. To use essential oils, you drop the oil in a diffuser or humidifier that releases the scent through the steam, or you can spray the scent on your bedding. Some people apply oils to their skin. However, if you choose to do so, you should avoid areas like your face and neck to prevent developing skin sensitivities or reactions.
I use incense constantly for everything from stress relief to increasing my energy. Research suggests that the health benefits of aromatherapy include:
- Decreasing stress, anxiety, and depression
- Increasing relaxation
- Improving sleep
- Enhancing the quality of life for those with long-term, chronic health problems, such as dementia
- Alleviating different forms of pain, such as osteoarthritis
- Improving nausea
There are many different scents to choose from, and each is designed to help with different moods and health issues. Some of my favourite scents to have in my oils or incense are lavender, cedar wood, sage, and orange blossom.
The science behind how aromatherapy works is not fully understood yet. Scientists believe that aromatherapy may cause smell receptors in the nose to send messages to the limbic system in your brain (an area that plays a role in your emotions). Scientists also hypothesize that messages coming from your nose to your brain activate your hypothalamus (control centre of the brain) and cause it to release chemicals like serotonin, which helps to improve and regulate positive emotions.
If you are not sensitive to scents due to allergies, I suggest trying out incense or essential oils to improve your mental health. They can be bought online and in many different stores. You can find my favourite incense package on Amazon, on this page. Happy smelling!