Power of Smell #bebetter52

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Whether it’s the delicious bakery aroma as we walk around town or the smell of pine trees after a rainy day, scent is a constant in our lives. Smells can be wonderful--or not so wonderful--but whatever the scent, we often experience an emotional reaction to what meets our noses. The beauty of scent is often overlooked yet holds more power than we may realize. Have you ever caught a whiff of a certain perfume that transports you back to that springtime when you were 16? Or felt an overwhelming sense of relaxation when you smelled a lavender bush in bloom? That’s because scent actually has a profound effect on the way we feel. Scents can trigger moods because of associative learning (the perfume example) or through aromatherapy from the natural properties of certain plants.This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to harness the power of smell to our advantage.

Before we delve into the benefits of inhaling good smells from healthy sources, we should note that not all scents are created equal. In fact, many studies have shown artificial scents from candles, room sprays, or even perfumes can be harmful to our health. The truth behind our stack of fall-themed candles is most likely they are not as pretty as the packaging. That’s because “about 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil)”(Dr Axe). This means that the chemicals found in myriad common household cleaning products, toiletries, or other artificially scented products have the potential to be carcinogenic by simply breathing them through the air. Further, many of those compounds also act as endocrine disruptors that can lead to hormone imbalance, weight gain, as well as many diseases (Dr. Axe). These harmful smells often come with the label “fragrance,” a term that traditionally carries a positive connotation. It appears your nose is not the only part of you being deceived.

For some of us, this may be sad news to hear, but the good news is countless natural alternatives are available and offer an even better sensory experience! First, consider investing in some high-quality therapeutic-grade essential oils. These can be diffused for aromatherapy purposes or even digested to treat a variety of health concerns. If you are looking to fill your home with some awesome aromas on a budget however, all it takes is a journey through the produce section or the spice aisle and a few minutes over the stove. You can practice aromatherapy right in your kitchen by adding favorite herbs and spices to a boiling pot of water and letting it simmer to your heart’s content. Some suggestions include allspice, cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, lavender, citrus fruit, mint leaves, and nutmeg. The opportunities are endless. You can tailor your herbal selection based on the season, your desired mood, or the benefits you are looking to gain. For example, rosemary is known for enhancing memory and relieving congestion.

We hate to stir the pot (pun intended), but we want our 52ers to have the knowledge to make the best decisions for their health. And we think this fun kitchen activity is the perfect way to enjoy all that nature has to offer our bodies, minds, and, of course, our noses.

How to do it?

In a small pot fill with water, then heat till boiling. Add ingredients, then turn down to simmer. Add water as needed, every 30 minutes. Don’t forget to turn down the stove when you leave the house.

Check out these 5 simmer pot recipes to make your home smell like Fall. Our favorites:

Recipe #1
Cinnamon sticks
Apple peels
Orange rinds
Whole cloves

Recipe #2
A few drops vanilla
Orange peels

Additional resources:

Do Scents affect Mood

Dangers Synthetic Scents

Aromatherapy on the Stove for Autumn Cheaper and Healthier