Just like colors, textures and virtually anything else, scents hold special meaning for people based upon their previous association. The following are several examples of different scents and what they are purported to do. 90% of reality is what we do with our perceptions, so if you believe that scents and fragrances have no effect, then they will probably fail to work on you. Likewise, your previous associations with these smells may alter the effects, for instance, you may have previously associated ginger with negative feelings or exhaustion due to the fact that most people eat ginger-based foods around the holidays. Therefore, ginger may not work for you.
Application of aromatherapy involves either the use of a humidifier, atomizer or combining “essential” oils with a base oil or lotion and applying it to the skin. (You can also put essential oil in melted candle wax, re-solidify the wax around a new wick and have an aromatherapy candle). There are many contraindications, especially when applying essential oils to the body, so make sure you do your research. There are many websites and books that can help you discover fragrance combinations and mixing instructions.
Purchasing and mixing essential oils is often cost-prohibitive, messy and time consuming. A cheaper, less messy way is to try pre-mixed combinations of the essential oils (such as Healing Garden), or, for the more common fragrances like ginger, cedar and pine find them in their natural form, smell it and see what you think. When I was pregnant, the smell of a little ginger or lemon in heated ginger ale was the only thing that (besides eating jalepenos) that would stop my nausea. A friend of mine swears by the Sleepytime spray they sell at Target for relaxation. Smell is tightly linked to memory. Even if the smell is not here, think of a smell that reminds you of happier times (the cologne of your first love, your Grandma's house…whatever). Recreate it for yourself.
Many spices can be found in most grocery stores. Add about a tablespoon to 8 oz. of boiling water and inhale the steam and/or wait until the water cools to a tolerable temperature and dampen a towel to apply to your chest or face. Some, like rosemary, become very aromatic when combined with lotion or hair conditioners and used as an exfoliant/circulation stimulant. When dealing with fragrances other than essential oils which are often 400 times more powerful than the natural source, experiment. Place fresh rose petals in a zipped, mesh sack in the dryer with your darks (just in case there is any color bleed). You will dry the flowers and freshen your laundry at the same time. Use pine cones to absorb essential oils and place them in a decorative basket on your counter (Make sure to cover it with lace, or mesh if you have animals or children, because ingesting essential oils can be deadly). Add cloves and ginger to salt dough before you play with it and bake it. Some scents are only easily available in “essential oil” form, other scents can be easily found in gardening departments, dry-oils sprays in the perfume department or ordinary foods.
Angelica Root: relieves fatigue, migraines, anxiety,
Sweet Basil: brighten mood, strengthen nervous system, improve mental clarity and memory, relieve headache and sinusitis
Bay Leaf: relieve depression and burnout/exhaustion
Bergamot: balances nervous system, relieves anxiety, improves quality of sleep, relieves hopelessness/helplessness
Black Pepper: increases circulation, relieves stiffness
Cardamon: relieves mental strain and fatigue, aphrodisiac, mood elevator
Carrot Seed: eases anxiety and stress
Cedar: calm emotions (try smelling cedar chips in the gardening department)
Chamomile: sedative, relieves anxiety, improves quality of sleep (tea)
Clary Sage: relieves stress and tension, improves quality of sleep, aphrodisiac
Clove: aphrodisiac, relieve tension, worry, guilt and hostility
Coriander: helps improve sleep, helps remove feelings of self-doubt, weariness and irritability
Cypress: immune stimulant, increases circulation, relieves grief, jealousy
Fennel: deals with mental, creative and emotional blocks as well as resistance to change and fear of failure.
Fir (Balsam): relieves anxiety and stress through helping ground one mentally (especially common at Christmas as this is one kind of pine tree)
Frankincense: elevates mind and spirit, helps with reconnection with repressed feelings
Geranium: relieves fatigue, nervous tension, discontentment, heartache, fear. Can be found in most gardening departments, smell the flower. (P.S. They are not that easy to grow)
Ginger: stimulates appetite, helps relieve confusion and lonliness (and nausea) Try heating 6oz of ginger ale and adding 1/4 teaspoon of ginger. Drink while warm. Also investigate ginger lillies and pinecone lillies…They are amazing–and easy to grow.
Helichrysum: helps people with addictions, grief, panic, burnout and emotional sensitivity find a sense of calm
Jasmine: relieves depression, labor pains, and provides a sense of calm when dealing with bitterness, guilt and repressed feelings. (common in dry oil sprays in perfume department)
Juniper Berry: improves mental clarity, and improves empathy
Lavender: promotes restful sleep, calming influence (common in dry oil sprays in perfume department)
Lemon: uplifting, helps energize and relieve apathy
Lemongrass: helps releive stress related exhaustion
Lime: uplifting and cheering
Marjoram: promote restful sleep, help ease migraines, calms and helps relieve anger. Use as the moisture on a moist-heat heating pad.
Myrrh: helps relieve lack of spiritual connection and emotional blocks.
Neroli: good for anxiety relief
Nutmeg: invigorates and stimulates the mind and helps regain focus.
Sweet Orange: brightens mood, relieves apathy and bunout
Oregano: energizes mind and body and helps relieve headaches
Peppermint: improves energy, mood and relieves exhaustion (mints)
Pine: increases energy and repels fleas
Rosemary: improves mental clarity and memory, relieves headache
Sanadalwood: relieves apathy and melancholy
Spearmint: eases nausea and headaches; energizes and relieves fatigue (gum)
Thyme: relieves fatigue and may help with bronchitis
Ylang-Ylang: aphrodisiac, mood brightener, promotes restful sleep, relieves anxiety. Very “flowery” sweet smell