The intimate correlation between scent and bathing
As it’s been scientifically proven that bathing is beneficial to the mind and body, we also know that scents, especially with aromatherapy that harnesses the bounties of plants, also have an effect on the mind and body. Bathing and scents are fantastic together and combining them brings even better effects. Let’s start by learning the mechanisms of scents and experience their astonishing effects.
The Effect of Scents on the Body
Aromatherapy: a therapy that harnesses plant-derived fragrances
Aromatherapy is popular in recent years as a way to relax. The word is a combination of aroma + therapy and means a “fragrance treatment method.” In France, aromatherapy is conducted by those with a medical license, and it is recently being employed in the medical field in Japan and the UK also.
The essential oils used for aromatherapy are volatile fragrance substances extracted from plants such as flowers, leaves, fruit skin, or tree resin. The oils are a condense version of the fragrance source of plants, so to speak. Depending on the plant, these are extracted in different ways such as distilling with steam, directly compressing fruit skin, or using solvents. For aromatherapy, these extracted essential oils are chosen according to the various symptoms of the body and mind and absorbed through treatment or aroma pots, or through aromatic bathing, which we will describe later.
Fragrances that reach the instinct are protective charms that will soothe the mind
There are three main routes for the body to absorb essential oils. By smelling the aroma, the fragrance substances of the essential oil will travel directly from the nose to the brain; another route is from the nose/mouth to the lungs and then the entire body; the third route is absorption through the skin to travel throughout the body via blood and the lymph. Nice aromas are relaxing because the fragrance substances that travel through the nose to the brain will directly impact the deepest part of your brain that governs the autonomic nerves. It has also been proven that the second and third routes that traverse through the entire body impact the various organs. Of the five human senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, smell directly connects with the limbic cortex, which controls instinct. This is why it’s important to choose aromas that your intuition responds to. The aroma that suits you will reach your instincts and stay close to you like a guardian angel.
- 1. Nose to brain
- The fragrance components of essential oil stimulate the olfactory cells deep in your nose and convert to electrical signals to directly reach the limbic cortex of the brain and then the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. These are the more instinctive/visceral parts of the brain, responsible for memory and emotion, and also play a large role in autonomic nerves, hormones, and immunity. This is why smelling fragrance can affect your physical condition or relax you.
- 2. Lungs to entire body
- The fragrance components of essential oil inhaled through the nose/mouth travel to the lungs via the windpipe. They are absorbed by the alveoli to enter the bloodstream, which carries them to the various tissues and cells throughout the body.
- 3. Skin to entire body
- Because fragrance component molecules are small, they penetrate deep into the skin and reach the capillaries. They enter the blood and lymph flow to impact the muscles and organs of the entire body. This function can especially be anticipated from spa treatments and aromatic baths.
An aromatic bath with essential oils
A time of luxurious relaxation with the double-effect of a half-body bath and aroma
There are many methods of aromatherapy such as spa treatments, but we highly recommend combining this with bathing, especially half-body bathing, because fragrance components of essential oils volatilize more easily when warmed. The bathroom is not only warm, it’s filled with steam, so fragrance components spread out easily in this space. You take your time with a half-body bath, which means you are in contact with the fragrance components that much longer. We encourage you to leisurely relax in this time of bliss. Preparing this is really easy. All you need to do is fill the tub so you are immersed up to the pit of your stomach, add 5–10 drops of essential oil, and mix the water well. The rest is the same as a regular half-body bath. Immerse yourself until you gradually perspire. Essential oil is not very soluble, so make sure the undiluted oil doesn’t come in direct contact with your skin. If the bath is for someone with sensitive skin or for children, we recommend that you dilute the essential oil with a vegetable (carrier) oil, milk, or honey before adding to the bath.
Choose aromas that your intuition responds to and follow methods for selection and use
There are many kinds of essential oils that are suited for refreshment or relaxation or have various effects on the body and mind, such as promoting blood circulation or sanitizing. We are listing essential oil recommendations according to a number of situations, but remember that the same essential oils don’t necessarily have the same effect on everyone and that people react to fragrances differently. Also, forcing yourself to use an aroma that you don’t really care for can adversely cause stress, so it’s a good idea to choose what you like, rather than insisting on using a certain essential oil for certain situations. There are a number of precautions to using essential oils. For example, don’t apply undiluted oil to skin unless otherwise instructed by an expert; avoid certain oils if you have allergies; remember that the essential oils that can be used by a pregnant woman varies according to her stage of pregnancy; and be careful with storage. While everyone is aware of pesticides etc. in food, the same thing applies to essential oil because this also enters the body. Try to be as honest as possible to your instinct and find the essential oil perfect for you with the help of a trustworthy aroma therapist while considering the production source of ingredients and quality of the oil. This is most important for enjoying aromatherapy.
Essential oil recommendations according to situation
When you want to relax
Lavender (lavendula angustifolia), which releases stress and soothes anger; sandalwood (santalum album), which calms the mood with its exotic scent; eucalyptus narrow leaf (eucalyptus, radiata), with a crisp scent that invites deep breathing; and bergamot (citrus aurantium ssp bergamia), which helps ease depression with its citrusy scent.
When you want to feel refreshed
When you want to refresh your mood and regain vitality for tomorrow: peppermint (mentha x piperita), which is helpful for awakening you and changing your mood; lemon (citrus limonum), which functions to recover energy with its fresh scent; and grapefruit (citrus paradisi), which energizes you with its clean, fresh scent.
When you’re feeling down
When you’re feeling down from work or relationship issues, we recommend essential oils that will brighten and boost your mood, such as: sweet orange (citrus sinensis), which relaxes anxiety and tension; ylang-ylang (cananga odorata), which calms the mind; jasmine sambac (jasminum sambac L.aiton), which brings a feeling of happiness.
When you have a headache
For a headache, you should approach both body and mind: the crisp scent of rosemary cineole 1.8 (rosmarinus officinalis, Cineole 1.8) is recommended for both headaches and migraines; lavender (lavendula angustifolia) calms the mind and eases pain; clary sage (salvia sclarea) restores the mind’s balance and helps to ease pain.
When you are cold
If you are very sensitive to cold, with symptoms such as having trouble sleeping because of cold hands and feet even in the summer: lemon (citrus limonum), which promotes blood flow; black spruce (abies nigra), which is nicely compatible with citrus essential oils; and rosemary cineole 1.8 (rosmarinus officinalis, Cineole 1.8), which is also effective for cold hands and feet because it promotes blood circulation.
When you want to detox
When you want to detox because your body feels somewhat heavy and bloated: grapefruit (citrus paradisi) or cedarwood (cedrus altanica), which stimulate the lymph system and help circulation; cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), with a spicy tree scent that will help remove excessive fatigue from the body and mind.
* Certain citrus essential oils or certain skin conditions may stimulate the skin. Halt use if you feel stimulation and rinse off immediately.
- Azusa Nakamura Annels
- Director, Jasmin Aromatique Organics Co., Ltd.
- Global Formulator, Jasmin Aromatique Group
- Aromatherapist, Jasmin Aromatique Group
- Global Executive Principal, Jasmin Aromatique Institute (AUS/Japan/HK/EU/USA/China)
- IFPA (UK) Aromatherapist
Tips to enjoy fragrances in the bath
There are several ways to enjoy fragrances in the bath in addition to aromatic baths using essential oil. You can buy ready-made aroma items to use straight or add essential oils to those for a twist. All these tips are easy and will make bath time delightful. Try one today!
Many soaps blended with essential oils are organic and gentle to both the body and environment. They often use essential oils such as lavender, rose, geranium, and tea tree, which help alleviate skin problems. Of course, you can also choose depending on what smell you like.
It’s said that the components of human blood and seawater are very similar. Thalassotherapy, or seawater therapy, has been developed with a focus on this. This has become prevalent in other countries as a natural therapy that utilizes seawater and seaweed and other bounties of the sea. You can take in minerals while enjoying a sea fragrance with bath salts or seaweed facial packs.
There are aroma sprays for bathing also. If you spray this in the bathroom after filling it with steam using the shower, the fragrance will rise together with the vapor for a pleasurable bath time. If you would like to make this yourself, start by pouring 5 cc dehydrated ethanol into a 50 cc container, add up to ten drops of essential oil, and then 45 cc water. Mix well, and you’re done. (Use up in about a week.)
Bath salts help the body to discharge excess water and stimulate metabolism. Besides using commercial bath salts, you can also enjoy the synergy of salts + essential oil by customizing and adding five to ten drops of your favorite essential oil to 50 g of natural rock salt and mixing it with a spoon.
Cute round bath bombs are made of baking soda and citric acid. These combine to create the fine bubbles of carbon dioxide when dissolved in water. When absorbed through the skin, your blood vessels expand and blood flow is stimulated, warming your body as a result. Many bath bombs are made with scents, so you can enjoy the fragrance along with a fizzing sensation.
If you are unable to take a full bath, a foot or hand bath is also effective. Fill a large basin with hot water about 40–42°C, add two to three drops of essential oil, mix well, and immerse both feet, up to the ankles if possible. Besides improving circulation and warming your entire body, it will also ease foot swelling.
An even easier method is the hand bath. Fill a large basin with hot water about 40–42°C, add two to three drops of essential oil, mix well, and immerse hands for ten to fifteen minutes. After a foot or hand bath, be sure to wipe dry completely. If left wet, this could make your body cold afterward instead.