Scents and sensibility…aromatherapy and your mental health

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in aromatherapy | 0 comments

iStock_000017114981XSmallScents? Or Sensibility? Can aromatherapy boost the psychological benefits of therapeutic massage?

I am a huge proponent of aromatherapy also though I have never been convinced one way or the other of its medicinal value. I simply like good scents; I find that they can energize or relax, boost endorphins or calm nerves. And yet, one thing that I did not realize is that aromatherapy massage is the most widely used complementary therapy in nursing practice — legitimized largely by its role in holistic nursing — and is recognized by the US State Boards of Nursing. There are data that suggest that aromatherapy may help improve anxiety, depression and mood swings, which is interesting since mood swings and depression are common among some women going through menopause. And, massage has been reported to be helpful in ameliorating certain symptoms, including insomnia.

So, what exactly is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy refers to the use of essential oils, extracts if you will, that are distilled from roots, seeds, leaves or blossoms of plants to promote physical healing or enhance overall wellbeing.  The practice has been used for roughly 6,000 for therapeutic purposes. While experts are not certain how aromatherapy works, some believe that it works through smell receptors in the nose that communicate directly with the brain.

Currently, researchers are reporting that when added to therapeutic massage in menopausal women, it may help to reduce the burden of psychological symptoms. In fact, when they compared the effects of twice weekly, 30 minute aromatherapy massage sessions to the same type of massage but an odorless oil and to no intervention at all, that is exactly what they found.

For the purpose of this four week study, researchers used an oil that consisted of safely diluted proportions (4:2:2:1 ratio, respectively) of:

  • lavender — known for its sedative properties and ability to promote calm
  • geranium — commonly used for menopause
  • rose — useful for reducing stress and targeting menopause and related hormonal issues
  • rosemary — known to improve circulation and exhaustion

Evening primrose oil — an oil that is often used as a carrier (pressed rather than distilled) oil to enhance the effects of the essential oils.

A certified midwife (who also held a massage and aromatherapy certification) conducted the massages at the same time daily; oil was applied with hands using clockwise circular movements with light pressure and the participants lay face down. And, the researchers used two scientific measures both at the study’s start and end to evaluation depressed mood, irritability, anxiety, physical/mental exhaustion and impairments in memory and concentration. To reduce bias, face to face interviews were carried out rather than relying on recall and self administered questionnaire.

The findings? Both aromatherapy therapeutic massage and regular therapeutic massage appeared to have positive effects on psychological symptoms. However, somewhat higher average reductions in severity scores were seen in women who had the aromatherapy massage.  And compared to women who didn’t receive any treatment whatsoever, aromatherapy massage had significant effects on depression, irritability, anxiety and physical and mental exhaustion.

It’s virtually impossible to tease out the emotional benefits alone of having massage or aromatherapy massage; being touched warmly and gently tends to boost overall wellbeing. However, from a scientific standpoint, aromatherapy massage therapy in a controlled environment appears to boost the effects of regular massage.

Yesterday, I put this theory to test. I felt a heck of a lot better but not necessarily due to the scents. I’m opting for sensibility on this one. Meanwhile, what are your thoughts on aromatherapy?

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Wednesday Bubble: is menopause relief right under your nose?

Posted by on Feb 23, 2011 in aromatherapy | 3 comments

Evidently, the relief for better sex. restoration of hormonal balance and hot flash relief has been right under our noses the entire time.

No, really!

NOXO Menopause Relief ™, available as an inhaler or a balm, relies upon Nobel prize-winning science that focus on the olfactory glands and stimulates the olfactory receptors in the brain. The goal? Evidently by inhaling the proprietary blend of phytonutrients and phytochemicals, one can actually alter perception. The result? “A smoother, less turbulent transition into the menopause phase of life.”  With just three inhalations a day, NOXO Menopause Relief “stimulates the release of powerful neurochemical transmitters that act on the limbic system and the limbic system acts to regulate body functions.”

Wow! Almost sounds too good to be true. And Nobel worthy?

According to the site, unrelated Nobel prize research into brain’s olfactory receptors showed odorants possessed an ability to transmit signals to brain receptors in order to influence mood and discomfort and other senses. Theoretically, this would mean that there was a way to utilize the brain’s inherent response to scent in order to influence wellbeing.

I am an advocate of  aromatherapy and I personally believe that certain scents can influence mood or calm nerves. However, I am not entirely convinced that scent can be used to actually alter hormonal balance or influence sexual function. Indeed, some readers of this blog may recall the test drive me and several others gave Zestra, essential arousal oils geared towards improving sexual desire; not only did the product fail to arouse but it actually had the opposite effect.

Can NOXO do what Zestra couldn’t?

All that, and more!

Check this: NOXO has a full line of olfactory wonders to resolve anxiety, stop smoking, control appetite and even curb attention deficit disorder.

Wednesday Bubble? I smell something a bit fishy…don’t you?

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Wednesday Bubble: Scentuelle Seduction, deux

Posted by on Jan 27, 2010 in aromatherapy, sexual desire, sexual health, women's health | 0 comments


A little over a month ago, I enrolled in a user study for Scentuelle™, which you may recall, is an “aroma” patch that uses a woman’s sense of smell to enhance sexual response. At the time, I wrote Scentuelle that reportedly targets smell receptors at the back of nose closest to the brain “with a sensuous blend of aromas” that mimic dopamine, a naturally-occurring chemical associated with pleasure.  Manufacturers of Scentuelle claim that because it acts like dopamine, it increases happiness and by default, arousal.

Now that the user study has ended, it’s time for the reveal.

I am not crazy about product itself, but I love the company’s approach.

The Scentuelle patch is unobtrusive, so much so that  you might forget that you’re even wearing it.  So far as I can surmise, the strategy underlying Scentuelle is a behavioral one, which is why I am giving the product two thumbs up! (In case you are wondering, I was not approached to review this product; as I explained a few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to the product website and while perusing the goods, I saw that they were conducting a user study, which seemed like a great strategy by which to review a product.)

If you have been following this blog, you might have read my posts on sexual desire and Dr. Christine Northrup. If you’ve not read, them, I encourage you to do so because when it comes to how we feel about ourselves and our partners and more importantly, how that translates to sexual desire, she is spot on.

Briefly, Dr. Northrup suggests that we become “ardent explorers” of our own pleasure, in essence, become our own partners in sex. Turn ourselves on and tell ourselves often that a turned on woman is irresistible. Commit to regularly exploring our pleasure potential and live our lives in ways that “excite, motivate, and turns on” other people in our lives. Become self-actualized, confident. For example,

  • Think heartwarming, sexy, uplifting, kind, loving and positive thoughts about yourself and others EVERY DAY
  • Strive for commitment, trust and vulnerability with your partner
  • Get out of your head and into your body….regularly

Philisophically, Scentuelle appears to be taking the same approach; empowerment, fulfillment, exploration and reinforcement. The rub: the use of gentle reminders to smell the patch and think about sex, desire, your partner, senses, arousal, etc. In a Pavlovian way, the patch and its scent (which for me personally, was the largest drawback as I did not care for it) represented daily reminders to think and act. Whether or not the scent actually activated receptors in my brain is an entirely different matter and I remain unconvinced. It’s not that I don’t appreciate aromatherapy; personally, I embrace it — through candles, perfume, flower and tea. Yet, I found this particular scent so unappealing that I was not sure how it was linked to self-actualization and desire.

I like Scentuelle and I’m not bursting any bubbles. I like what the company is done and I like how they follow through. Clearly, they’ve spent a lot of time and research exploring what does and doesn’t turn a woman on.

If you are experiencing declines in sexual desire because of hormones I encourage you to try the product out. It might be the best $30 you ever spent. And if you’re not, tell your friends who are. It’s wonderful to have a natural, potentially effective solution to a waning sexual desire.

Scentuelle seduction? Yeah, I’m all for it!

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