Scent-sational Holiday Vibes!
by Milissa Castanza Seymour – Bethpage, NY

Nothing awakens a reminiscence like an odor.

~ Victor Hugo

’Tis the season of olfactory delights! Cinnamon, pine, citrus, and spices often bring back holiday memories. How often does emotion-laden time travel occur with a passing scent or lingering fragrance?

Thanks to our olfactory system, tiny scent molecules enter the nose and are delivered by nerves to the olfactory cortex in the brain. Only the sense of smell goes directly to the brain, attaching to memories and thoughts, without conscious processing. Nearby, the limbic part of the brain, the seat of emotion/memory/learning, is directly involved in scent connections as well due to its close proximity. The limbic system impacts the thalamus which regulates the nervous system, and in turn, the immune system.

Long story short, scent stimulates emotion AND the immune system. Research shows that positive emotion engages the parasympathetic nervous system, boosting immunity. Stress inducing emotions narrow and inhibit the immune response due to sympathetic nervous system activation, circulating stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. So, scents can bring about calm or distress. The nose holds great power in bringing peace and well-being to our holiday season and year ‘round.

Smell is a subjective experience but behind every scent is a chemical composition that has researched effects on the body-mind. Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils, has been used for years and studied for its beneficial effects. Essential oils are plant extracts that are steamed or pressed from various parts of the plant (flowers, leaves, rind, or bark) to isolate the fragrance components. These scents also have a function in the plant like deterring predators or healing disease. When used in preparations topically on the skin or inhaled into the lungs/circulatory system, these components have healing effects on people as well.

Scents encountered during the holiday season are pines, citrus, and spices. Everyone has different experiences with these scents due to their own personal connections to them. Some find them soothing while others, irritating. The research tells us that each of these scents have beneficial essential oil chemical components that affect the body-mind. Here’s a glimpse of their abilities:

1) Orange (Citrus sinensis): Did you ever notice that the smell of orange is uplifting? That’s because orange rind contains a very high percentage of d-limonene which boosts the immune system and elevates mood. It is anti-anxiety, antibacterial, antiinflammatory, vasorelaxant, and a skin penetration enhancer. It’s known for its calming yet uplifting effect.

2) Pines: Pines, or conifers, are scents that bring forests and trees to mind. Did you know that walking through a pine forest reduces congestion and opens respiratory passages? That’s because of the a- and b-pinene, among other components depending on the type of pine. Both these chemicals are anti-bacterial and antiinflammatory with a-pinene being antiviral and analgesic as well. Often, pine is found in cleaning products due to its antibacterial nature and in skin topicals for muscle/joint pain relief. My favorite conifer essential oils are Black Spruce (Picea Mariana) and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) for their true holiday pine scent. Both have the properties listed above with Black Spruce having the additional calming/sedative effects of the component bornyl acetate.

3) Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): The smell of cinnamon accompanies many holiday baked goods and reminds us that the seasons have changed. Cinnamon bark has air purifying and stress reducing properties. It has a warm and radiant scent and is best used in diffusers or room sprays. This is a beautiful scent that, when used in very tiny amounts, soothes the mood.

So, how can you make a peacefully scented, immune-boosting, air purifying atmosphere for your holiday gatherings? Here are a few suggestions:

• Burn a candle that has these holiday essential oil scents • Boil a pot of water with a few orange rinds and cinnamon sticks in it to scent the room • Bake some cookies using orange and/or cinnamon in the recipe.

You can also make your own essential oil stock blend and diffuse a few drops in the room before guests arrive for an air purifying, soothing atmosphere. When using essential oils make sure pets and kids can leave the room (caution with kids under 10). Diffuse in 15 minute intervals with good ventilation.

Here’s a basic holiday recipe:

In a small, tinted orifice reducer glass bottle (5 ml), put the following essential oils:

  • 10 drops orange
  • 10 drops Black Spruce
  • *4 drops Cinnamon Bark (*substitute 1 drop clove or ginger and omit cinnamon if pregnant).

Cap and gently shake the bottle to blend. Feel free to experiment by adding vanilla or other preferred scents. Add a few drops to your diffuser and enjoy the scent-sational holiday vibe!

Milissa Castanza SeymourMilissa Castanza Seymour M.S., is an InnerSoul Coach and multiple certified healing arts practitioner specializing in Stress Management/Well-being for over thirty years. She is a professional, practicing Numerologist helping clients find their soul purpose. Her certifications include: Aromatherapist, Prana/ IntegrativeYogaTherapy Holistic Health Educator, Applied Positive Psychology Practitioner/LifeCoach/Resilience Trainer, AddHeart Facilitator, Past Life Consulting Hypnotist, Reiki Master Teacher, NYS Licensed teacher, Ayurvedic Health Practitioner, Meditation Teacher, and Chopra Well-being Coach 2022.




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