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Page 48 Healthy Cells Magazine Peoria May 2014

ing them in a variety of everyday uses like massage. While aroma-

therapy has been around since at least the first century AD, modern
science has begun supporting its claims with increasing frequency.
The process of producing essential oils can be time consuming,
but as any gardener can tell you, just the smell of the plants them-
selves can be enough to give you a boost. So when youre planning
out your garden for the new year, think about adding some of these
fragrant favorites to the mix.
Lavender and Rosemary
Both of these are common sights in American gardens lav-
ender for its flowers and rosemary for its use in cooking but
both are said to help cognitive performance, ease anxiety, promote
relaxation, and reduce cortisol levels present in times of high stress.
pring is here! And for those of us who love rolling up our
sleeves out in the garden, theres no better time of year. Ask
any gardener theres just something about the feel of the
soil, the sound of wind in the leaves, and the smell of a new years
crop coming in.
Its that smell that might have the most profound impact on us,
though. From clinical researchers to practitioners of alternative med-
icines, a wide swath of observers tout the healing and therapeutic
powers of different plant aromas, which can be especially useful for
those of us with aging parents.
Circulatory health, stress relief, skin regeneration, memory improve-
ment the list of benefits attributed to carefully chosen smells goes
on and on. Theyre the basis behind the tradition of aromatherapy,
which involves extracting essential oils from various plants and apply-
healthy smells
Aromatherapy Gardening for Seniors
Submitted by Lutheran Hillside Villages
May 2014 Peoria Healthy Cells Magazine Page 49
If youve ever enjoyed a cup of peppermint tea, you know how
relaxing the scent of this European perennial can be. It, too, helps
with anxiety, but it also has been named as a key to regulating
digestion, reducing inflammation, and boosting energy levels.
In correct doses, rose scents have been found to improve com-
plexion, improve moods, fight depression, and aid skin regenera-
tion. Of course, managing rose bushes can be quite an investment
of time and money (especially if you factor in the cost of band-aids
for thorn pricks), but no one can question their visual impact.
Lemon trees, on the other hand, are far easier to manage. Their
scents and oils can help combat stress, depression, and high
blood sugar and as a side benefit, nothing lifts the mood quite
like a glass of lemonade after a warm afternoon in the garden.
If you live in a warm climate, or if you dont mind cultivating
some of your plants indoors during the winter, eucalyptus might
be a good addition to your repertoire. This Australian native is said
to have antiseptic properties, to help blood circulation, and to treat
Looking at this list, its not hard to see why an aromatherapy
garden can be helpful for those of us with aging parents. Many of
these scents have a positive impact on memory, and some believe
they can have a positive impact on older adults who are begin-
ning to struggle with cognitive impairments and memory loss. In
fact, one University of Maryland Medical Center study found that
inhaling essential oils may affect olfactory receptors that stimu-
late areas of the brain responsible for emotion, recall, and mental
Other common benefits include relief for anxiety and depres-
sion two common afflictions for seniors. Another study from
the International Journal of Neuroscience indicates that massages
incorporating rosemary, lavender, lemon, orange, and chamomile
three times a week reduced anxiety and improved self-esteem for
participating seniors.
If youre thinking about trying aromatherapy with an aging loved
one, be sure to consult their doctor, as higher dosages of essential
oils may interfere with certain medications. But if youre just plan-
ning out a garden, a little advance planning can mean a vase full
of wellness for the seniors in your life!
For 50 years, Lutheran Hillside Village has been the premier
resource for older adults and their families in the Peoria area.
We offer independent living, assisted living, memory care, and
skilled nursing. To learn more about all the ways we help older
adults live life to the fullest, call Ellyn at 309-692-4600 or visit
Photo credit: Gromovataya/Thinkstock
Photo credit: schulzie/Thinkstock
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Just the smell of the plants
themselves can be enough to
give you a boost. So when youre
planning out your garden for the
new year, think about adding some
fragrant favorites to the mix.