The Subtle Connection Between Scent And Emotional Well-Being

While “you must remember this; a kiss is just a kiss” may just be the words of an old sweet song, a smell isn’t only a smell. It is a memory that becomes ingrained in our minds. Those delicious cookies baking in your mother’s kitchen or the intoxicating scent of the flowers on that prom night corsage all come alive again, with just the slightest whiff of these aromas, causing a veritable flood of warm and fuzzy feelings. 

Unlike other human senses, olfactory responses are linked to the emotional center of our brains and correlate directly with our past experiences. This is why the smell of rain or the ocean or cookies baking rocket us back to wherever we first experienced that particular smell. 

Scents send signals to our limbic system, which is the sector of the brain that controls memory and emotion. According to a 2011 study conducted by Masahiro et al, positive emotions, which can be elicited by certain fragrances have been proven to lower stress levels and improve overall mental outlook. 

This trinity of scent, memory and emotion explains why smells have the power to influence our moods and psychological wellbeing and why leading creators of ambient air care products rely on fragrances to evoke certain responses among consumers.

According to Stephen Warrenburg of Oxford University, an aroma can significantly promote stress reduction and improve mood. Still another 2011 study conducted by Matsunaga et al, concluded that participants who smelled a nostalgic odor (one that was considered personal to each individual), experienced an autobiographic memory. 

This was measured against a control odor, which was the same to all participants and did not evoke any memories or nostalgia. After smelling the nostalgic scent, the mood states of participants were altered. Happiness and feelings of comfort increased, and negative feelings, such as anxiety, had significantly decreased.

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The Power of Essential Oils And Emotional States

The essential oil market is expected to reach $13 billion by 2024. This staggering number is due, at least in part, to its increasing popularity in aromatherapy treatments. Although far from a new alternative approach to modern medicine, many studies are ascribing healing effects to the essential oils found in many aromatic compounds.

In 2013, a study referred to as Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI)) that was conducted by Cho, et al, measured the effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs and sleep quality of hospital patients having stents fitted. When compared to a control group, the aromatherapy participants indicated reduced levels of anxiety, increased sleep and stabilized blood pressure. It is thought that aromatherapy benefits emotional well-being via the power of the mind-body connection facilitated by limbic system.

In today’s complex cosmos, consumers are seeking deeper meaning and mindfulness in every aspect of their lives. According to the Global Wellness Summit, this is a forceful trend that is not likely to abate in the near future. Ambient air-care providers, such as Air-Scent International, have to keep one step ahead of the burgeoning trends in the fragrance industry.

In the market place, this translates directly into responding to the desire for products that serve more than one purpose. Functional fragrances are named and marketed as such because they do more than just make us smell good.

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Functional Fragrances Affect Our Brains And Bodies

These scents are an outgrowth of an ongoing trend among consumers who at one time may have been disconnected from nature but who are now are seeking natural solutions to treating illnesses, unhappiness and personal discomfort. They are saturated with pills and medicines and their side effects. Functional scents are buzzwords for fragrances that affect the performance of our brains and bodies. Research has shown that fragrances have significant and measurable effects on mood, irritation, stress, depression, apathy, happiness, sensuality, relaxation and stimulation.

Research conducted at Stevens Institute Of Technology affirms that the scent of coffee alone increases performance and the ability to focus. One Japanese company discovered that diffusing lemon scent through an office increased productivity by 54%. This reinforces research conducted at Ohio State University that linked lemon to a rise in levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical linked to easier decision-making and increased motivation.

The Positive Impact Of Scent On Emotional Well-Being

One British company that produces natural supplements has created the very first anti-stress supplement that is worn as a unisex fragrance. It is even named as a “functional fragrance” and was formulated from bodies of research that revealed the correlation between human experiences and how the olfactory system affects emotions. Ninety-six percent of subjects felt calmer after smelling the scent.

The Calming Power Of Scent

According to Jules Miller, founder of The Nue Company: “The impact of scent on our emotional states has been recorded anecdotally across cultures around the world. We took that concept, but applied a scientific lens by working with data from the University of Geneva’s Brain & Behavior Laboratory. The perfumer, Frank Voelkl, then used this research to inform which notes to use. We were left with a scent to relieve you at times of high stress, help you stay calm, and recenter. I spray it on my neck and wrists, breathe in for four, hold for eight, and breathe out for four.”

Scientists are now studying a new field called: psycho neuroendoimmunology (PNEI), which carefully monitors the correlation between psychological processes and the nervous, endocrine and immune systems of the body. Solid research reinforces this mind and body connection. This area of study examines the specific ways in which stress and emotional states can affect our brains, hormones, nervous and immune systems. Their research has clearly established that positive moods and emotions that are elicited via scent inhalation can impact beneficially our mental, hormonal, nervous and immune system health.

12 Functional Fragrances That Enhance Well-Being


Research has indicated that the smell of crisp apples may actually help ease the pain of a migraine headache. One study revealed that participants who found the scent appealing experienced a significant reduction in both headache symptoms and shortened migraine episodes. Previous studies on a green apple’s odor have also revealed that the scent of apples may help control feelings of anxiety.

Caraway Essential Oil

This pale yellow to brownish essential oil has a delightfully spicy and slightly sweet aroma and it is known for its soothing effect on the mind and feelings of harmony and trust. It is an energizing aid for stress reduction and the encouragement of positive thoughts.

Caraway seed essential oil

Clary Sage

Clary sage essential oil is a sedative that is utilized to help with emotional issues such as anxiety, stress, and tension. Its floral, fruity, sweet, and herby scent uplifts moods, can boost self-confidence strength, hope, and self-esteem. It also works to balance hormones and is helpful in combatting depression and anxiety.


One of the world’s oldest known spices, this sweet-smelling essential oil is known to boost brain power and improve cognitive functions. A study conducted at Wheeling Jesuit University concluded that participants experienced improvements in visual-motor responses, memory functions and attention spans.

Citrus Essential Oil

Scents like lemon and orange may be well known for their Vitamin C properties, but simply by sniffing the fruit, they also are energy boosters. Citrus oils can help reduce feelings of anxiety and irritability. Sometimes referred to as “liquid sunshine,” citrus essential oils are uplifting and ease stress and depression. Many Air-Scent fragrances contain citrus in their opening notes. 


Fennel essential oil is believed to promote spiritual and emotional strength and in ancient cultures was used to bestow courage and strength upon warriors.

Long cultivated for culinary use, fennel is one of the most commonly used essential oils. Native to southern Europe, particularly Greece, and Italy, its fragrance is sweet, spicy, peppery and earthy. It is known to improve self-esteem, motivation and self-worth.

Fresh-Cut Grass 

Modern scent researchers have discovered that a chemical released by a newly-mowed lawn can make people feel joyful and relaxed. For the lawn itself, the pleasant aroma is actually a distress signal released via the green leaf volatiles in the grass itself. The chemical emitted makes people feel happy and may even prevent mental decline in old age. After seven years of research, Dr. Nick Lavidis, a neuroscientist at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, developed a perfume called Serenascent, which claims to relieve stress and boost memory. Its smell is identical to that of a freshly cut lawn.

The Scent Of Freshly Cut Grass

Jasmine Essential Oil

The word, jasmine, is Persian in origin, and for many centuries the essential oil derived this tiny flower with a beautiful, captivating sweet scent has been among the most valuable used in aromatherapy and ceremonial purposes. Along with rose oil, our fragrance creators consider jasmine the most expensive and exotic oils used in perfumery today. This essential oil is good for meditation, promoting harmony, reducing depression and inducing joy and happiness.


This is one of the most useful and versatile essential oils used in aromatherapy. It can be blended with many other essential oils and helps with a wide variety of ailments and conditions. Widely grown in the Mediterranean with the largest producers being France and Bulgaria, lavender is well known for easing the symptoms of anxiety, stress, melancholy, and insomnia. Lavender oil has a relaxing scent, which acts as both a sedative and a stimulant.

Lavender Benefits As Ambient Scent

Peppermint Essential Oil

Studies conducted at the Sense of Smell Institute indicate that peppermint oil has mood-elevating properties that make it useful for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can help to enhance mood and mental performance and relieve feelings of sadness. Another small study from Wheeling Jesuit University suggested that smelling peppermint could be linked to greater cognitive stamina, motivation and overall performance. This essential oil also serves to ease stress, exhaustion and irritability. Known for invigorating the mind, peppermint is also used as an aid for students when taking tests.

Pine Essential Oil

Some Native American tribes refer to the pine tree as the “Watchman of the Sky” because in legend it is always growing taller in order to catch the beams of the sun.  In ancient times, the needles from these trees were used as fillers for mattresses, as it was believed that they protected sleepers from fleas and lice. In ancient Egypt, and Greece pine kernels, better known as pine nuts, were used in both culinary and medicinal applications.

According to one Japanese study, a pine scent can decrease anxiety, and lower depression and stress levels. The research discovered that participants who went on a walk through a pine forest reported significant feelings of relaxation. In aromatherapy applications, pine essential oil positively impacts mood by clearing the mind of stress, energizing the body to help eliminate fatigue, enhancing concentration, and promoting a positive outlook.

Vanilla Essence

Vanilla is an important component of many of our creations. Originating in Mexico before spreading to tropical Madagascar, which is now the world’s largest cultivator of vanilla, it was the Spanish Conqusitadores in the 16th century who gave it the name ‘vaina’ or vanilla, which means little pod. Technically, vanilla is not an essential oil but rather a solvent extracted from the plant’s pods or beans. It is widely used in perfumery, pastry making, and aromatherapy. Since the 17th century, it has been utilized to promote serenity, uplift bad spirits and reduce stress and anxiety.

Vanilla Bean Ambient Scent

Neurological studies have revealed that the positive effects of vanilla are due to vanillin, which is its primary component. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, vanilla is highly effective in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression. In a study published in the Proceedings of ISOT/JASTS in 2004, researchers discovered, via mood mapping measurement, that taking a single whiff of vanilla bean elevated participants’ feelings of joy and relaxation.

Air Scent International And Ambient Scents

World masters in scent marketing and ambient air-care, we have been a leading force within the perfume industry for more than seventy years. Our customer service reputation remains unblemished down through the decades and we stand behind all of our products. Our fragrances and commercial air fresheners far exceed industry standards and our scent delivery systems are ideal for all commercial spaces, both large and small.

In Conclusion

Commercial industries, no matter what the size or type of space, can harness the power of ambient scenting so that it will enhance the mood and well being of all who enter within. Let our professionals help you pair the perfect scent for your needs, whatever they might be.

Give our team a call today.

Final thought about scent and mood: I think if guns were coated with perfume there would be less violence. ~

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