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August 18, 2010 at 9:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Natural Scents to Boost Your Mood

By Helen More Blogs by This Author

It’s true. A variety of natural scents can actually boost your mood, and some of the scents that scientists are testing are quite interesting. For instance, did you know the scent of certain pheromones in a man’s sweat can change a woman’s mood? According to Charles J. Wysocki, a researcher from the University of Pennsylvania, women in the study group reported feeling less tense and more relaxed when exposed to the smell of male perspiration. While that doesn’t mean men should stop wearing deodorant or that women should begin sniffing their partner’s armpits, it does lend credence to the fact that Mother Nature has had a plan all along. In a similar study, conducted at the University of California at Berkley, research leader, Claire Wyart, says, “It really tells us that a lot of things can be triggered by smelling sweat.” The things of which Wyart speaks include direct evidence that people secrete a specific scent that influences the hormones of the opposite sex.

Foods and Places That Make Us Feel Good

Pretty much everyone knows that a few nibbles on a chocolate candy bar can bring a smile to their face and a lift to their soul, but what about just the scent of chocolate, or coffee, or even the scent of fresh strawberries or raspberries? Specific scents or odors set off triggers in the human body, often reminding us of something from our past that was either pleasant or unpleasant. For instance, the smell of fresh strawberries might have the ability to boost one person’s mood and yet lower the mood of another. The reason it works this way has entirely to do with the memory of each individual. If the berry patch brings back good memories, the scent of fresh berries baking in the sun will trigger a pleasant feeling. But if the berry patch holds unpleasant memories, the scent of a berry patch might invoke unpleasant feelings in that individual. For nostalgic purposes, just about any scent can produce a reaction. Good memories can be reawakened by the arrival of a scent from a pleasant moment in our past, while the opposite can be true of a scent or odor from our past that is associated with an unhappy moment. One particular aroma that tends to have a positive effect on mood is the smell of freshly baked bread.

Stimulating Scents

The stimulating aroma of peppermint can change a person’s mood to a more uplifted and excited state. According to Bryan Raudenbush, PhD, who was part of the research team in West Virginia’s Wheeling Jesuit University study, competitive athletes who were subjected to the scent of peppermint were stimulated to the point of performing faster in physical areas such as running and exercising. When it came to skill maneuvers, however, such as in the case of free throws on the basketball court, the scent of peppermint did not change the skill level of the participant. In another study, scientists at Saitama University in Japan extracted evidence that aromatherapy—using fragrant plant oils to improve mood—has the ability to alter gene activity and blood chemistry in such a way as to enhance mood and reduce stress levels. When we inhale scents through our nasal passages, our olfactory neurons send the signal directly to the brain. Because the olfactory neurons are in close contact with the limbic center of the brain, which is the seat of our emotions, their activity can interact with our feelings and emotions.

Herbal Scents that Act as Mood Boosters

If you’re searching for a specific scent to boost your own mood, grow or purchase the following herbs and conduct your own study.

  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Chives
  • Cinnamon
  • Garlic
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Rose
  • Rosemary

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20030319/mens-sweat-may-soothe-womans-soul http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/alternative_treatments_for_insomnia http://women.webmd.com/fight-fatigue-bloat-stress-9/food-mood-boosters http://www.webmd.com/news/20010720/peppermint-scent-of-winner http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-life/mind-body-connection/article.aspx?cp-documentid=23608711 http://www.knowabouthealth.com/beat-stress-with-natural-scents-aromatherapy/ http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1887

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