Why do we like scents?

One of the best things to watch is a little kid bend down and sniff a fragrant flower in the garden. Interesting how when people talk about memories of something fragrant there is an emotional engagement with that memory. Did you ever wonder why that is true?

Fragrance is strongly connected to our emotions and memories. This is because our scent receptors are located next to the emotional centers of our brain which are the amygdala and hippo campus. According to Dr Axe “Researchers believe that certain fragrances can help trigger calming or peaceful feelings. Some can interact with certain hormones, neurotransmitters or enzymes resulting in a change of body chemistry.”

Perhaps that is why lavender is often a favorite scent for soap because it offers a calming, soothing fragrance.

According to Dr Axe here are the top 7 calming scents (in the form of essential oil):

  1. Lavender – considered the most common essential oil that offers a calming, relaxing effect and has been reported to reduce tension, bring relaxation and allow for a deeper and more restful sleep.
  2. Rose – Offers a sweet and familiar scent that brings calm. Dr Axe mentions that rose scent helps with depression, and anxiety
  3. Vetiver – This is my favorite – it is a grass grown in tropical areas of oour world. The scent is a light and grounded one, often a back note in perfumes and colognes. Dr Axe reports this scent has been used with people that have experienced trauma. The trauma is eased with this grounded scent.
  4. Ylang Ylang – it is a bright and uplifting scent
  5. Bergamont – the peel of a citrus fruit that is familiar to Earl Gray tea drinkers, it is a crisp and slightly pungent citrus floral note. In the lab scientists have determined that bergamont reduces cortisone (that is a hormone response of the adrenals- which leads to the flight or fight) response to stress.
  6. Chamomile – I am convinced every grandma had a box of chamomile tea, which surfaced when you did not feel well… or as a warming winter tea. Interestingly the University of Pennsylvania school of medicine found that chamomile essential oil may provide clinically meaningful antidepressant activity. I just identify with the smell of that tea, remembering the love of grandma, the comfort of being cared for.
  7. Frankinscence – from the beginning of time this scent has been associated with faith, with religious use. And the truth is using this scent in aromatherapy it quiets our minds, reduces stress, and allows for greater thinking.

I wanted to add a few more scents – like the smell of homemade bread baking, the deep evergreen scent of a christmas tree, or the smell of an apple pie baking in the oven…. These are calming and comforting scents to me because they are associated with sweet family memories. Some of these are just memories now, with mom gone.

It is so fascinating how fragrance is tied to our history, imprinted on our brain in emotions. So, are you feeling less than yourself? Rekindle your nose with one of these fragrances, and the aromatherapy may lift your spirits.