What is the science behind so-called aromatherapy? Before we get into what it is, we need to get into what it isn't. Aromatherapy should not be used as a replacement for traditional standard medical treatments. It also is not a way to treat, cure or prevent any specific disease, but rather is a way of taking a holistic approach to well-being. While we at Rustic Charm Candles do not market any of our products specifically as aromatherapy products, we still think that it is important for our customers to understand some of the basics behind aromatherapy so they can tell facts from fiction.
Smells & the Brain
With that out of the way, the reality is that smells have a specific effect on our brain. Science has shown that the olfactory bulbs where we process smell have sensory receptors that send messages directly to parts of our brain, influencing our mood. The process of finding the specific smells and sensory information which will work best for you will be subjective.
When a smell enters our olfactory bulbs, that information is sent to the limbic system which influences emotions and memories. This means that the smell that is going to affect you the most will depend on what memories and emotions you have associated with specific smells. It is these deep-seeded associations that we have formed in our brain that creates positive mood lifts when we smell particular scents.
Smiling & Mood
This interplay between the olfactory bulbs and the limbic system isn’t the only way in which a scented candle can influence your mood. If enjoying a candle makes you happy, then the literal act of smiling actually causes you to have a better mood and can increase subjective reports of happiness. One study by the University of Tennessee and Texas A&M tested more than 11,000 participants and found that facial expressions lead to us actually experiencing those emotions associated with the expression.
If even the simple act of smelling a peppermint candle can make you smile, that is reason enough for you to listen to some of the science behind this. All too often, many are quick to dismiss the personal benefits than can be gleaned from something that brings you joy.
Joy, Not Medicine
And while some of these smells are based on herbs that have real medicinal properties, it's important to remember that this is not something that should be taken as a cure or treatment for any sort of medical condition. It is not a replacement for first line therapy. When it comes to most candles and other scented products, the goal is to simply bring a little joy into your life—and there is real science behind the idea that smells can have an actual effect on your consciousness and state of mind.
Ultimately, it is going to be up to you to discover which scents you enjoy the most and which scents help you in specific ways. That is the beauty of the fact that everyone has their own subjective tastes. You get to find out for yourself your own personal preference, and it is not something that someone else can tell you in the end. We hope that you continue to enjoy scented products of all kinds and find out which ones you like the most!