Using Natural Aromatherapy in Interiorscape Designs

Have you ever been preoccupied, going about your busy day and suddenly you inhale a distinctive smell?

So distinctive, you feel transported back in time: like the summer your family vacationed at a lake cabin in Maine? To me, that’s natural aromatherapy and just one more reason why we should surround ourselves with living plants.

Mayo Clinic Doctor, Brent Bauer, explains that aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating our smell receptors which send messages through the nervous system into the part of our brain that controls emotions called the limbic system. He says some studies have shown there can be aromatherapy benefits, such as relief from depression and anxiety as well as improved quality of life, especially for people that suffer with chronic health issues.

The first time I promoted aromatherapy containers is when an elder care facility came to me seeking indoor plant options for sunrooms located on every floor. At first, I was going to give my usual tropical designs, but the idea of going further to help people made me think of a medicinal approach. I suggested three ideas. One was an all tropic plant design, the other had a blooming rotation and the third was a medicinal/aromatherapy option. Even though it was the least aesthetically pleasing and the most expensive of the bunch, they went with aromatherapy. The sunroom containers had a combination of aloe, rosemary, assorted mints and tomatoes. Whenever I’m there working on them, I’ll get at least one thank you from the residents. It makes me happy to know that this design option may be helping their recovery or enhancing their lives in some small way.

Here are a few benefits of natural aromatherapy and the plants and herbs that can be used to achieve them.

Stress Relief

Some important benefits of aromatherapy are believed to be increased energy levels, reduced pain, improved immune system, better digestion and circulation. The most predominate benefit, however, is stress relief. I tell my clients, in a chaotic, demanding work environment, providing employees with soothing aromas can make a difference in their overall attitude and well-being. Some of the best plant smells to stimulate the natural relaxants in our brains are lemon oil, lavender, pine, eucalyptus and peppermint. They are quite effective at reducing stress which in turn increases cognitive function. Having good bright light is the key to providing these options.

Energy Levels

Plant aroma can also provide a natural energy boost. Many of us are pumping ourselves with unhealthy levels of energy boosters such as caffeine, nicotine or sugar. Scents such as black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, jasmine, tea tree, rosemary and sage are believed to enhance our energy levels and counteract the drop in focus that generally happens after approximately 30 minutes of work. Using natural aromatherapy is much healthier than downing eight cups of coffee mixed with large amounts of sugar which can cause unnecessary strain on your adrenal glands.

Immune System & Pain Relief

More popular benefits include an improved immune system and pain relief. Scents from lavender, chamomile, sage, juniper, eucalyptus, rosemary and peppermint are thought to enhance both and are an excellent way to combat headaches, muscle aches and even sore joints.

While everyone responds differently to different smells, it seems that some responses are universal. Using these universal responses to enhance your interiorscape designs might just be a way to set yourself apart from the competition.

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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