For the Smell of It



So far, I’ve written a little about what got me interested in essential oils and also what mistakes I’ve made along the way. I apologize upfront for this series being so very spread out, but it truly is intentional– I don’t want to bore or overwhelm you, for one thing. For another, this is an emotionally charged topic for some people and I honestly don’t want anyone to feel insulted, attacked, or to get riled up. For those reasons, it’s best to take it slow and easy, I think.


Let's talk about essential oils


Today, I want to just take it back to the very, very simplest reason to use essential oils:


For the smell of it.


Here’s the thing– we humans? Like things to smell good. How we define “good” is highly individual, but there’s no denying that what you smell helps affect your mood.


I want to be clear here– I am NOT a scientist and I don’t know all the chemical effects of every compound on your brain, nerve endings, and everything else on a cellular level. Honestly? Few of us do. I’m also not going to pass on information to you gleaned from other non-scientists. This is not because it’s all bad– it’s just that I haven’t vetted the info and, thus, don’t feel comfortable passing it on. Fair enough?


I’m talking about smell at the most very basic level.


Let me offer a few personal examples to better explain what I mean by that…


  • When I feel nauseous? Peppermint is just about the only scent I can handle and it immediately helps settle the queasies a bit.
  • When I smell lemon + pine/fir together? It smells like a super clean house to me.
  • When I inhale eucalyptus? It helps clear my sinuses.
  • When I breathe in sweet orange? It calms me. (Lavender does this for some people, but not me.)
  • When I smell fir needle  + cinnamon + mint? Well, it might just as well be Christmas.


The list goes on and on.


In many cases, these very real effects are caused by just how powerful the brain really is. There is no doubt about it– scent is evocative. We all have aromas that immediately transport us to a different place or time. Maybe the smell of sunscreen takes you back to a beach vacation. Perhaps the smell of lime and spearmint reminds you of a mojito you had on your honeymoon. Take a whiff of baby powder and your mind will take you back.


This is how we’re wired. This is how we work.


Essential oils allow me, in a natural way, to deliberately evoke the memory or response I want from my body. Since I know the smell of grapefruit is bright, energizing, and makes me happy, I have learned I can reach for grapefruit essential oil to diffuse or inhale and I can expect a good result.


On the flip side, ylang ylang is a very popular essential oil for a number of reasons. One of its wonderful benefits is the ability to help lower blood pressure just through inhalation. That’s all well and good and makes it AWESOME for many people. For me? It means that I feel dizzy and disoriented and overall lousy. That’s not because the oil is bad– it’s because we’re all individuals and we all have different responses to scent. (Remember how I told you that lavender isn’t particularly calming for me? Well, there you go.)


There is MUCH debate about there about ingestion and dilution for topical use. Those are important topics, but not for today.


Today I just wanted to talk about using essential oils for their wonderful smelly goodness and the very legitimate impact that that has on our bodies. Sometimes I think people underestimate that purpose– it seems too simple to just SMELL something and have a positive effect.


But it’s real. And it’s effective. And it’s one of my favorite ways to use my oils.


In case you were wondering? Today, I’m diffusing a blend of fir needle, blood orange, and peppermint in my kitchen and it smells like the freshest, cleanest place ever. Those scents are energizing and encouraging for me, while being clean and fresh enough not to overwhelm.


So there you go.


Even if I did nothing else with them? (And I do…)


I would use essential oils just for the smell of it.

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2 comments to For the Smell of It

  • Kathy

    I just caution everyone that a smell that is good for you might not be good for others. I am a teacher and we have a problem right now with kids coming to school with too much of one scent that their parents put on them to “help that child”. When more than one kid comes to a classroom with too much oil and different smells, we are having troubles with other kids and teachers getting headaches and such from the smells mixing and being overpowering. I think oils are good, but also see them getting a bad rep for this type of reason. You can choose to use an oil on yourself but don’t use so much that you take everyone around you hostage.

    • This is SO important, Kathy! It is also why I am a huge, gigantic fan of the personal inhaler. Cheap and convenient, it’s my favorite way to get the benefits I seek without impacting others. Thank you for that important reminder!

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