Why Scent Has Such a Profound Emotional & Cognitive Impact

Why Scent Has Such a Profound Emotional & Cognitive Impact

Nov 18th 2019

ScentsWhether we know it or not, processing scents through our olfactory nerve is a powerfully evocative force when it comes to multiple human functions. Emotions, ability to focus, a sense of place and time whether it be of home or a foreign territory, and even libido can be impacted. We powerfully associate thoughts and feelings with various scents, even if we don’t consciously realize it.

This highly evocative and associative nature is exactly the reason people want to use things like scented candles and other items in their home. We all want to experience some form of comfort or well-being and these scents help us achieve that sense we’re looking for.

However, instead of using chemically scented products, think about using natural essential oils in your home, on your pillow or wherever else you might get the occasional current of aroma. Plant oils contain phytochemicals that interact with the area of the brain that controls the olfactory senses, and can trigger emotional and cognitive responses that enhance our lives.

Mowing the Lawn

Often seen as a mundane weekend task, this redundant chore actually can improve your mood! Studies show that simply smelling freshly cut grass (the real thing, not a chemical equivalent) causes an increase in happiness. It produced a sense of well being in subjects who inhaled the natural scents that come from blades of grass after they’ve been cut.

There is actually a chemical in grass that induces feelings of well-being and relaxation (related: Far Infrared Saunas for much more than relaxation). So it’s not just your imagination that a few minutes after revving up the lawnmower you experience a gradually lifting of mood. Grass isn’t the only plant that releases these feel-good chemicals.

Pine trees and other evergreens release chemicals that promote relaxation. A multitude of other plants, even those considered “weeds” in your lawn also release similar chemicals that waft up to your nose after being cut.

Natural Scents Can Promote Concentration, Focus and Productivity

Rosemary oil has a multitude of benefits beyond the kitchen. It helps promote a strong memory and sense of recall and helps to increase focus. Rosemary oil also helps with stress and anxiety.

This can help you focus your energy into constructive thoughts rather than wallowing in worry and doubt. Incidentally it’s also an excellent natural antibacterial and anti-fungal agent which is why we use it for scalp and hair health in our shampoo.

Lemon oil is not only uplifting and energizing once it registers in the hypothalamus, triggering a sense of well being and energy. It also helps to clarify thoughts and snap the mind out of stagnation. This can be a wonderful tool for productivity and imagination.

Peppermint oil is another uplifting scent that promotes vitality, boosting imagination and creativity. Peppermint’s strong aroma helps to stimulate the brain centers responsible for critical thought and gets the creative and energizing juices flowing.

Peppermint is most popularly combined with rosemary as a feel-good scent since they not only complement one another aromatically, but they also have similar calming yet stimulating qualities which lend a huge hand in keeping focus and concentration alive which pushing other unproductive emotions aside.

Restorative Sleep, Relaxation

Lavender oil is perhaps the foremost essential oil known for promoting sleep and relaxation. While the scent of the oil is certainly not for everyone, it is one of the more studied plant oils. Because it has been studied so heavily, it has been proven to go beyond placebo effect when it comes to enhanced relaxation and improved sleep.

Clary sage is another oil that helps relax the body and muscles, and to calm the mind in preparation for sleep or a relaxed state. Clary sage can also smell very pungent to people, and only a tiny drop is needed to release enough scent up through the nasal passages and get the job done. It's an important ingredient in our sulfate free shampoo as well, for its gentle lifting of sebum and other debris for a healthy, clean scalp.

Chamomile is a relaxant not only when sipped as a tea, but also the oil of various types of chamomile plants act as a relaxant when entering the hypothalamus. In addition to relaxing the nervous system, some evidence suggests that chamomile may be able to help lessen headache tension and ease general muscle tension when inhaled.