Smell this, heal that: How sniffing essential oils could benefit health

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — Feeling stressed? Take a deep breath.

Feeling extraordinarily stressed, or distracted, or anxious? Take a deep breath with a sweet, minty or herbaceous scent in the air.

More than 20 studies show that smelling essential oils could benefit health, but only if done correctly.

Women’s Health lays out a crash course in aromatherapy. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Research shows that when inhaled, the oils active your brain’s hypothalamus, which controls hormones, energy, and drive.
  • Different essential oils trigger different responses in the brain, which, in turn, direct your nervous system to either chill out or spring into action.
  • Moderation is crucial. The key is staying within a 15-60 minute sweet spot. Never breath in essential oils for more than an hour.
  • A diffuser is the most effective way to unleash essential oils into the air – these can be purchased anywhere from $25 to $200.
  • Place a drop of one oil on a cotton ball, put it under your nose and inhale normally for a couple of minutes. (Great for a stressful commute or before a big meeting.)
  • Look for 100 percent pure organic oils, free of filters, pesticides and synthetic chemicals. Avoid the blanket “aromatherapy” label – it’s often slapped on diluted oils laced with fragrance.
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Essential oils can help your day to day ailments if you only whiff properly. (PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images)

Smell This: Sage

Heal This: Blood Pressure

  • Those who smelled sage experience reduced blood pressure and breathing rate. Amped up memory and attention are another perk of sage’s scent.

Smell This: Peppermint

Health This: Stress

  • Breathing in peppermint can decrease the body’s levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Plus, peppermint reduces both fatigue and chocolate cravings!

Smell This: Cinnamon

Health This: More Focus

  • Cinnamon strokes the area of the brain that governs alertness, making you feel more focused and less flustered after breaking it in. Cinnamon also increases concentration and reduces frustration.

Smell This: Orange

Heal This: Anxiety

  • This scent slashes stress hormones and gives you an elevated mood. Before a stressful test or situation surround yourself with the scent of orange to stay calm under pressure.

Smell This: Rosemary

Heal This: Brainpower

  • Breathing in rosemary can improve speed and accuracy during demanding mental tasks. Additionally, the scent boosts energy and lowers fatigue.