Aromatherapy is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that harnesses the mind and body benefits of essential plant oils. It became popular in the United States in the 1980s, but for years has been mainly an adjunct to spa treatments and cosmetic procedures. Thanks to the advent of high-quality affordable oils and a variety of diffusers, American consumers are finally bringing aromatherapy into their homes. According to Puneet Nanda, Ayurvedic instructor and mastermind behind the GuruNanda line of Ayurvedic products, the real rewards of aromatherapy may soon be found in the workplace.
"As an entrepreneur, yogi and Ayurvedic practitioner, I've come to the realization that aromatherapy can contribute in a very real way to 'work wellness.' It can help improve focus and memory, boost energy, and reduce stress -- all of which enhances productivity and creativity."
How does Ayurvedic aromatherapy work? "Smell is the strongest of the senses and the only one that's directly connected to the brain. The smell receptors in the nose communicate with the same parts of the brain where memories are stored, where emotions are governed. It also impacts certain reactions in the body. This is why the inhalation of an aroma can instantly stimulate appetite, evoke a strong feeling, or remind us of a person or a place."
Nanda has been studying the science behind pure plant essential oils for many years, and is not surprised to find that these inhalations positively affect the mind at work, too. "There's a place for aromatherapy in every workplace, whether in an office or a home setting," he notes. It helps create an atmosphere that encourages high-functioning creativity. "Whether you need a morning pick-me-up, extra inspiration for a brainstorming session, or a way to de-stress and focus on finishing an important presentation, aromatherapy has its place."
Since aromatherapy as such is still unusual in American offices, Nanda offers some of his top pure oil recommendations to use with ultrasonic diffusers in a variety of work-related situations. To use these essential oils, an ultrasonic diffuser is a great investment, but if you don't have one, you can place a few drops of oil in a bowl of warm water. At your desk, you can sprinkle the essential oil onto a damp cotton ball and apply it to your pulse points in wrists and inner elbows
Lemon -- "Having trouble concentrating, or making a decision? Lemon isn't just a fresh, bright smell with universal appeal. According to research at Ohio State University, smelling lemon raises levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical linked to easier decision-making and upped motivation."
Rosemary -- As Shakespeare wrote in the 1600s, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance." "His words ring true when it comes to aromatherapy," Nanda agrees. "Rosemary is known to stimulate the mind and the memory." In research conducted at Northumbria University in the UK, inhaling rosemary essential oil improved both speed and accuracy on demanding mental tasks, and raised memory test scores by more than ten percent.
Peppermint -- "Invigorating, clean and fresh, this essential oil is known to stimulate the brain, rejuvenate the senses, and increase the ability to think clearly and effectively," Nanda explains. "Try it at your next brainstorming session and see if you don't agree." .
Frankincense -- Need to de-stress without becoming too relaxed, so you can make that deadline? "A study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that the aroma of frankincense could activate anti-depressive pathways in the brain and lower anxiety," Nanda says.
All of Puneet Nanda's advice stems from his own experience and passion. Prior to the creation of GuruNanda's line of Ayurvedic aromatherapy products, Nanda's business accomplishments included the launch of the successful oral care brand, Dr. Fresh, which earned him the 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. When his stressful schedule and poor eating habits began to compromise his own health, he rediscovered the Ayurvedic wellness practices of his childhood in India, including aromatherapy. Nanda's transformation was so profound that he sold his former business and is now fully committed to sharing the transformative power of Ayurveda. His motto: Aromatherapy For Everyone. Nanda shares more information about the essential oils he recommends to foster "work wellness" on his website.