The Symbolism Behind Your Favorite Stress-Reducing Scents

Smell is a highly underrated sense.

We often speed through our days without honoring the power and specificity of things like smell, but carefully curated sensory enhancements can positively influence mental health, sleep, and general well-being. Oftentimes, these healing properties can be the result of scientific effects as well as associations rooted in mythology, medicine, and even capitalism.

Here's a look at the deeper meaning behind some of our most beloved scents.

7. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been lauded for its healing properties and potency since ancient times. The ancient Egyptians used it in their embalming rituals, and in the Old Testament it is referenced as an anointing oil. Later, Arab traders transported cinnamon via complex land routes on the Silk Road, making it a rare and expensive commodity, status symbol, and medicinal tool in medieval Europe.

Around 1518, invaders forced their way into Sri Lanka, which was Ceylon at the time. To frighten away early traders, the Sri Lankans created a myth that said cinnamon was guarded by a great phoenix surrounded by serpents and bats. Unfortunately, this didn't deter the invaders for long, and soon enough cinnamon spread around the world. It became a popular ingredient in cooking and later in modern aromatherapy practices.

Today, cinnamon is a popular choice for those seeking relaxation, warmth, and comfort. It is said to reduce physical and mental tension, and can combat drowsiness and irritability. Studies have shown that it can keep blood platelets from clumping together, meaning it can be used as a blood thinner. It has also been shown to stop the growth of certain bacteria and fungi, and can even control blood sugar levels, making it useful for people with diabetes.

Typically associated with fire and the sun, cinnamon is also often linked to protection and passion, which perhaps stems back from its ancient role as a sacred anointing tool.

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