Can smell cure mental illness?

Long ignored in research, smells, especially those of essential oils, could be a very useful tool for many patients suffering from psychological or psychiatric problems.

How do essential oils work?

Smells have this ability to trigger emotions, positive or negative, but also to revive certain memories. The explanation would be found in the brain, because our center of smell is anatomically very close to that of emotions and memory.

Some studies have also shown an amplification or reduction of certain electrical signals in the brain depending on odors, confirming their influence on what we feel.

A complementary tool, like hypnotherapy or Chinese medicine

The development of aromatherapy in psychology and psychiatry is not intended to replace drug treatment or psychotherapy, but rather to supplement patient care. While some therapists use the scents during their consultation, either to soothe the patient or to revive a memory, for others it may be a matter of prescribing them in certain specific situations: inhaling certain essential oils for at least 5 minutes can soothe them. anxiety attacks, sleep disorders or phobias for example.

Before you start, talk to your doctor or psychologist, and do not hesitate to consult a professional trained in aromatherapy.

Source : Herz RS. Aromatherapy facts and fictions: a scientific analysis of olfactory effects on mood, physiology and behavior. Int J Neurosci. 2009;119(2):263-90. doi: 10.1080/00207450802333953. PMID: 19125379.

Find out more: “The guide to olfactory emotions – Balance and well-being thanks to aromachology” by Patty Canac, Ambre editions.


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