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Making Scents of Pain Relief

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Reprinted with the kind permission of Sue Ingebretson
Did you know that particular scents can trigger pain relief? Chronic illness conditions such as fibromyalgia and many others, including arthritis, are greatly impacted by stress. Don’t forget your nose when it comes to relief. Your sense of smell has the power to tune into danger, as well as enjoy kitchen aromas and bring pleasure into your life.  
The Scents of Pain Relief
The sense of smell – the olfactory system – is the only one of our senses that tells us instantaneously how to feel. Unlike our sense of touch, taste, sight, and hearing, the sense of smell bypasses the thinking part of the brain and connects directly to the amygdala. This primal part of the brain is crucial for split-second response and survival.
It’s also important to our overall sense of wellness and balance. It instructs our body (among other responses) whether to feel highly alert or profoundly relaxed. Calming the amygdala is one significant way to reduce stress.  
The Sense of Smell and Aromatherapy in the News
Using the sense of smell for therapeutic purposes is called, aromatherapy. Once known as a “nice” thing to experience while getting a massage, aromatherapy is now finding its way center stage. The most common way to enjoy and benefit from aromatherapy is through the use of pure essential oils.
An ABC news report shared this from Brent Bauer, MD at the Mayo Clinic, “The plant-extracted, highly concentrated liquids have historically been selling points in beauty and cleaning products—and now research proves that when inhaled properly, they’re also good medicine.”[1]
From Marlynn Wei, MD, JD “Scents have power to evoke emotions and memories instantly and can directly impact our bodies through our nervous system.”[2] This Harvard trained doctor shares information on using essential oils for stress relief.
Why Essential Oils for Stress?
Essential oils are particularly powerful communicators to our body. Our sense of smell tells our body how to feel.
When we’re feeling stressed, pain levels increase. Anything we can do (within healthy parameters) to lower our stress levels is beneficial. Reducing stress can relax muscles, regulate blood pressure, improve digestion, and of course, reduce pain.
I often use my hand to illustrate this philosophy to clients. A body tensed with stress, anxiety, and fear can feel like a clenched fist whereas a relaxed body feels more like an open hand that’s ready to both offer and receive.
Delightful scents can trigger pleasant memories and fill the body with feelings of joy, comfort, and satisfaction. Personal preference plays a role and experimentation can be fun.
“Happy” scents may be citrusy, minty, floral, woodsy, or spicy. Why not blend one or more variety? My go-to happy scents are both citrusy and minty. I love blends of orange and spearmint or peppermint and lemon.   
Which Essential Oils Work Best for Pain?
There are thousands of essential oils to try but the following list shares a few most commonly associated with pain relief. 

  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Orange
  • Sage 

Essential Oils – Not Just for Pain
Once you implement aromatherapy in your home, you’ll be surprised at the myriad of uses. Enlisting your sense of smell can also help with — 

  • Curbing unhealthy food cravings
  • Mood elevation and feelings of positivity
  • Overall relaxation and anxiety reducing
  • Skin care
  • Health and beauty needs
  • Cleaning 

Would you like a few ideas on how aromatherapy and essential oils can help? Here are a few DIY Essential Oil Recipes to try at home. 
Want even more? Here’s 101 Essential Oils Uses and Benefits!

Sue Ingebretson is the Natural Healing Editor for as well as a frequent contributor to ProHealth's Fibromyalgia site. She’s an Amazon best-selling author, speaker, and workshop leader. Additionally, Sue is an Integrative Nutrition & Health Coach, a Certified Nutritional Therapist, a Master NLP Practitioner, and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. You can find out more and contact Sue at

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