For most of us, a smell is more than an aroma – it’s a memory. When a breeze blows the smell of lilacs in the air in late spring, maybe it reminds you of your childhood. Or, chocolate cookies baking in the oven can remind you of your mom’s kitchen.
These feelings are not a coincidence – there’s actually a science behind why we treasure certain fragrances. Our olfactory reaction is connected to the emotional center of our brain, causing an outpouring of fuzzy and warm feelings. In contrast to taste or touch, scents are directly correlated with past experiences.
While they have powerful memory-prompting powers, some scents can also do remarkable things for our mind and body. The following are some scents that can make a positive impact on our daily lives…
* Vanilla Can Elevate Your Mood
In a study published in the Proceedings of ISOT/JASTS 2004, researchers found that inhaling the scent of vanilla beans elevated participants’ feelings of relaxation and joy. The results were measured through mood mapping, which included emotions ranging from happiness and stimulation to irritation and apathy.
* Lavender Can Help You Sleep
Not only can the scent of lavender calm the mind and body, it has the ability to help treat insomnia. Researchers found that the fragrance helped ease sleep problems and depression in college women. Some people keep lavender oil next to their bed, and inhale it before going to sleep.
* Pumpkin Can Be an Aphrodisiac
The scent of pumpkin has been found to be an aphrodisiac, particularly for men. The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation found that 40% of men tested responded positively to the scent of pumpkin mixed with lavender.
* Pine Can Reduce Stress
In a Japanese study, participants who walked through pine forests reported significantly lower depression and stress levels. The research also found that participants who were anxious, had a greater feeling of relaxation after smelling pine. Maybe the scent of pine contributes to cheer around the holidays.
* Jasmine May Help With Depression
The tiny, but powerful jasmine flower was looked at in a 2010 study. It found that inhaling jasmine oil helped give participants a sense of alertness, as well as leading to an uplifting mood.
* Apples and Migraine
It’s possible that an apple scent may ease a migraine. A 2008 study found that after sniffing the fragrance of an apple, participants saw a reduction in their headache symptoms, as well as shortened episodes. In another study, the smell of a green apple helped to control feelings of anxiety during stressful moments.
* Cinnamon Can Sharpen the Mind
This appealing scent may boost brain power. Researchers from Wheeling Jesuit University studied participants and found that those who smelled the scent of cinnamon improved in cognitive functions including working memory, attention span, and visual-motor response.
* Fresh-Cut Grass Can Make You Happy
Researchers have found that a chemical released by a newly-mowed lawn can make people feel relaxed and joyful. The smell seemingly is so powerful that neuroscientists came up with a perfume and air fragrance that matches it so anyone can reap the benefits of the scent – no lawn required.
* Peppermint Can Aid in Concentration
The invigorating smell of peppermint can aid in concentration. It can also trick the brain into thinking that it has alleviated stuffy naval passages when you have a head cold.