Aromatherapy is about the therapeutic uses of essential oils, whereas aromachology is about the psychological effects aroma has on an individual. However, they both promote a healthy state of being with mood and emotion. The scientific study of aromachology will include natural and artificial fragrance, while aromatherapy only considers natural essential oils and their therapeutic application. And while aromatherapy often includes inhalation as a method of absorption of chemical constituents into the body, aromachology is only concerned with the psychological and behavioral impact a specific scent has on an individual.
An example of an aromachological effect of scent is what type of incense, scented candle, or aromatic oils a person may use to achieve a focused state of mind for meditation. Frankincense, copal, amber, myrrh and other resins are popular choices to be burned for meditation or spiritual ceremonies. These aromas when burned do provide an excellent calming, warm scent that soothes and relaxes the mind. Millions of people over generations and across multiple cultures have used these scents for this purpose because of the psychological effect they has on the mind.
Another example is the effect that the scent of certain foods may have on an individual. The scent of fresh baked bread or chocolate chip cookies is a pleasant aroma to most people. However, that same scent may incite anxiety in another person because they associate the fragrance with a negative childhood memory. This phenomenon is also called conditioning, which describes the association of a specific aroma with a particularly stressful situation that invoked anxiety.
Using aroma to train the brain to remember certain information is also another form of aromachology. Specifically, a student can study for a final exam whilst eating a peppermint candy cane. Then, when taking the test, if that student smells the strong and distinct odor of peppermint, by say eating a peppermint candy, the information the student was trying to memorize for the test will easily be recalled. Lemon is another strong scent that can be used to trigger specific memories such as this test-taking situation.
In all three examples, the psychological and behavioral effect of the aroma was the most important outcome. The therapeutic benefits, if any, of the aromas were not important to the situation. Aromachology is important to the study of aromatherapy, as it will help the aromatherapist understand the impact that certain scents have on their clients, in combination with the therapeutic benefits of using the essential oils.
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