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Aromatherapy isn't just for hippies and New Agers. Plenty of research shows that the essential oils (extracts derived from plants) can help lower stress, improve mood, boost energy, and even ease pain.
"When you inhale the scent of an essential oil, it enters your bloodstream through your nasal tissues, and then moves to the brain, where it stimulates neurotransmitters that can have a calming, energizing, or even analgesic effect," explains Svetlana Kogan, M.D., founder of Doctors at Trump Place Longevity Institute and Medispa, who employs aromatherapy in her practice as a stress reliever and pain reducer for uncomfortable or stressful procedures such as laser skin resurfacing, acupuncture, and hair removal.
To sniff your way happier, calmer, or peppier, use the chart below to find your perfect scent, purchase a vial at a health-food store, body-care store, or online, then follow these simple instructions: Place an opened bottle of essential oil right under your nose, inhale slowly and deeply, hold your breath for four counts, then exhale slowly for eight. The effect can last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on your metabolism. You can repeat throughout the day as needed. (Note: Never place undiluted oil directly on your skin. And though aromatherapy is usually safe for pregnant women, you should always check with your doctor first.)
The Complaint: Fatigue
Choose: Peppermint, ginger, lemon (or another citrus scent)
The Complaint: Anxiety or stress
Choose: Cedarwood, chamomile, basil, sandalwood, cinnamon, sage
The Complaint: Pain or discomfort
Choose: Lavender, bergamot, lemon balm