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Essential oils

Health benefits of essential oils

Note: Chemotherapy can alter your sense of smell and some scents may make you nauseous. Talk with your doctor before using essential oils. 

Your sense of smell is closely tied to your memories and emotions, perhaps more so than any of your other senses. This is because when you smell something, it passes through your olfactory bulb, which runs from your nose along the bottom of your brain, connecting it to your hippocampus and amygdala. These areas of the brain are responsible for your memories and feelings, which is why scent can be so powerful.

As a massage therapist at Cancer Wellness, Cara Thurman likes to use a blend of essential oils to enhance her massage treatments.

"Essential oils can help relax the body, help you sleep, reduce headaches and enhance massage therapy," says Thurman.

Health benefits of aromatherapy

  • Chamomile: Reduce stress

  • Clary sage: Promote relaxation

  • Eucalyptus: Clear sinuses  

  • Ginger: Reduce nausea

  • Lavender: Better sleep

  • Lemon: Increase happiness, improve concentration

  • Peppermint: Boost alertness, reduce headaches

  • Rosemary: Increase focus

  • Sweet orange: Reduce anxiety

  • Ylang-ylang: Decrease stress

Popular essential oil blends

You can create your own blend of essential oils or look for a premade blend at your local natural foods store. Either way, Thurman highly recommends using a blend during cancer treatment so you do not associate one particular scent with cancer treatment. Here are some popular blends to try:

  • Clary sage + chamomile

  • Clary sage + lavender + peppermint

  • Eucalyptus + lemon + rosemary + peppermint

  • Lavender + chamomile

  • Lavender + rosemary + lemon

  • Lemon + lavender + peppermint

  • Peppermint + orange

How to use essential oils

There are several ways to enjoy essential oils:

  • Add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water and spritz on your pillow and sheets

  • Apply a few drops to a cotton ball, then put the cotton ball in your car's air vents

  • Put a few drops in your bath tub

  • Rub oil on your pulse points

  • Take a quick whiff from the bottle whenever needed

  • Use an oil diffuser or vaporizer

  • Wear jewelry specifically designed to diffuse essential oils

See more relaxation tips to help you unwind.

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