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Fire up your Olfactory Nerve and Engage your Senses with Aromatherapy!

If you are a patient of mine, you know that I support anything that is natural and beneficial to your health. I never hesitate when it comes to the opportunity to steer you towards something organic-based that will contribute to your vitality and well-being.

So, today I wanted to tell you a little about aromatherapy. Just as we can look to ancient civilizations like the Chinese for medicine we can trace the origins of aromatherapy back thousands of years to the Chinese, Egyptians, and Greeks where aromatic herbs and spices were utilized both for cosmetic and medical uses.

A good deal of intensive scientific study is being conducted about the physiological benefits of aromatherapy. In 2016, Scientia Pharmaceutica published a study that stated: “In the olfactory process, the fragrant molecules in the air attach to the cilia of olfactory receptors. This generates electrical signals which transmit and modulate the brain functions including memory, thoughts, and emotions. Studies describe that the inhalation of fragrances highly affect the brain function since the fragrance compounds can cross the blood-brain barrier and interact with receptors in the central nervous system.”

The inhalation of essential oils travels through several pathways in our bodies. When we inhale through the nose we not only activate the olfactory organs and signal our brain, the molecules are also carried to the lungs and interact with the respiratory system. We activate our olfactory organs and the molecules affect the brain through many receptor sites, including the limbic system which is known as the “emotional brain.” Therefore, smell is one of the biggest triggers of memories and emotions. Additionally, aromas trigger the release of chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin. The limbic system is also connected to the areas of the brain which affects heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure to name a few. That is one host of alluring benefits for the sensory pleasure of smelling pleasing aromas.

The benefit of aromatherapy is instantaneous as our sense of smell is estimated to be 10,000 times more acute than other senses. A whiff of lavender can bring on an immediate calming effect just as the aroma of peppermint can instill an abrupt burst of energy.

Today, aromatherapy is making its way into hospitals, yoga studios and classrooms as a method of relaxing, stimulating and energizing patients and students. There are dozens of varieties of essential oil and the blends of infinite. Today, I want to share some of my favorites with a few of their properties.

Peppermint – stimulates circulation, relieves headaches, supports the digestive system

Rosemary– boosts mental clarity, reduces inflammation, contains antioxidants

Cedarwood– improves blood circulation, is an antiseptic, promotes metabolism

Bergamot- Reduces stress, supports digestion, and has a sedative effect

Lavender– promotes relaxation, relieves anxiety, eases muscle tension

Ylang-Ylang– lowers blood pressure, improves hair health, is an anti-depressant

Lemongrass– eases headaches, clears the mind, improves immunity

Grapefruit- Energizing, supports the immune system, eases muscle pain

Mandarin- removes toxins, promotes healing, is a blood purifier

If you’re interested in sampling the use of aromatherapy, we have an assortment of three sprays available at my office:

Energy – For an energy boost try this blend of grapefruit, lemongrass, cedarwood and Mandarin.

Brain Storm – For mental clarity, this spray blends peppermint, rosemary and cedarwood.

Cloud 9 – For relaxation and easing stress try this blend of bergamot, lavender and ylang-ylang.

 

Many herbs used in essential oils are also used to make teas or tonics. Eastern cultures have cultivated the use of herbal recipes for centuries. If you’ve been experiencing any brain fog, you may want to try this focus tea which utilizes the brain-boosting herb rosemary:

Four-Ingredient Focus Tea

3 cups water according to strength desired

¼ cup mint leaves

2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 stick of cinnamon bark

For sweetener – use agave, honey or stevia sparingly

Strain or alternately brew in a tea ball strainer

When your tea is ready to drink, and you are waiting for it to cool, hold it up to your face and feel the warmth and inhale deeply. This herbal blend has the power to stimulate your olfactory nerve and absorb into your bloodstream. By spending a mindful minute to absorb the aroma of your tea, you will enhance the power of the remedy.

Researchers say:

  • Rosemary boosts memory, aids digestion and soothes pain.
  • The scent of mint stimulates the hippocampus area of the brain which may enhance alertness and boost memory.
  • Cinnamon stimulates brain activity, memory and motor skill.

 

I would love to hear any benefits you felt from the use of essential oils or trying my recipe for herbal tea. Please email me or comment on my Facebook page.

Carolyn S. George, MD, the founder and owner of VIDA Integrative Medicine, is dedicated to providing personalized healthcare by identifying and addressing the root causes of illness through an approach called Functional and Integrative Medicine. Her functional medical approach helps her find answers so she can treat the root cause of disease instead of just treating the symptoms. She works closely with her patients to explore their health and identify areas of improvement with both traditional medicine as well as nutritional support to maximize their health and well being. Dr. George is board certified in Urgent Care Medicine (ABUCM) receiving her undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Manitoba. She received her post-graduate training in Toronto at St. Mary’s Hospital and has practiced in both the United States and Canada. Dr. George has spent over 25 years working in the area of Emergency and Urgent care medicine where she observed the long-term consequences of poor lifestyle choices, oversight in management, inadequate patient education and difficult to treat conditions. She realized that her expertise and passion could make a real impact on her patient’s health before irreversible damage has occurred. Since then she has focused exclusively on applying a whole system approach of functional and integrative medicine to her practice. Dr. George believes strongly that patients make better choices about their health when they understand all the relevant factors that lead to their disease.
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