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Health, Recipe

Blissful Scents: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Peppermint's Aromatic Powers

Scents can work like an emotional time machine, transporting you to the feelings you had at a childhood friend’s home, a flirty first date, or a beachside bar a world away. That’s because the journey smells take through our bodies — from our nose through our cranial nerve through our olfactory bulb — ends at the same place we process emotions: the limbic system. The olfactory system is also closely tied with our brain’s hippocampus, which helps create new memories.

“No other senses have this kind of deep access,” says Rachel Herz, a neuroscientist at Brown University who is a world-leading expert in the psychological science of smell.

So if you want to give someone a holiday gift that will touch their heart and stick in their mind, try something with a good scent — some heavenly body butter, a delicious candle, or an adult scratch-and-sniff book. (Get your mind out of the gutter — we’re talking about books like, “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert” and “The Scratch & Sniff Guide to Beer.”)

The perfect addition to your perfumed present? Cocofloss in ’tis-the-season scents of Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, and Pure Peppermint. These aromas in particular don’t just please the palate, they can have positive effects on the entire body, leading to more relaxation, a better mood, and sharper concentration. So inhaling them while you floss leads to brighter smiles in many ways!

Here’s more on why you should let your nose indulge in these three sweet fragrances 👃💗:





Bliss for your brain

Sniffing real chocolate relaxes the mind, according to British psychologist Neil Martin. In his Human Olfaction Laboratory at Middlesex University, Martin used EEG (electroencephalography) to measure the brain waves of 60 volunteers as he exposed them to different scents.

Only a whiff of real chocolate reduced the activity of theta brain waves, which are associated with attentiveness. This finding is boosted by another scent study by Martin that showed “the smell of chocolate really does make people less stressed and anxious, and more relaxed.” So feel free to linger a little longer in the chocolate aisle.

For even more bliss for your brain, try chocolate meditation. Mindfully eating antioxidant-rich dark chocolate definitely sounds like a recipe for good health (and happiness). 


Weight-loss miracle?

A sniff of 85-percent dark chocolate can curb your appetite by suppressing the hunger hormone called ghrelin, according to a 2010 study. So that’s why Willy Wonka was so skinny!

Research like this makes us wonder, how does one sign up for a chocolate study? Well, here is a list of dozens of chocolate studies recruiting participants right now. Or you could conduct your own “study” at home to discover which chocolate bars smell and taste the best.

Cocoa Potpourri

Chocolate’s addictive aroma is a melty mix of more than 600 flavor compounds, including the scents of honey, cucumber, peaches, and even potato chips, according to Professor Peter Schieberle, a food chemist at Munich Technical University and director of the German Research Center for Food Chemistry.

Using “sensomics,” the study of individual flavor and aroma molecules, Schieberle discovered that humans can recognize the scent of chocolate using just 25 key compounds, which he calls “chocolate’s chemical signature.” He hopes to use his research to create even better tasting chocolates. May the Force be with him. 



How to eat chocolate

It’s tempting to scarf it down, but to turn your chocolate bar into a golden ticket to paradise, here’s the best way to eat it, according to Schieberle:

  1. Place chocolate on your tongue.
  2. Let the chocolate slowly dissolve so that you can savor the full array of flavor compounds. 
  3. Exhale so some of the aroma molecules will once again pass over your odor receptors. 
  4. Let the chocolate melt in your mouth. 
  5. Repeat.



Vanilla Bean Dreams

Inhale happiness

Joy and relaxation are on the way when you sniff vanilla, according to International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc., one of the world’s leaders in the perfume industry. The mega-corporation studies how scents make people feel by using a self-reporting method they call “Mood Mapping.” Emotions on the map could range from happy to stimulated to depressed, but only 1.1 percent of sniffers felt stressed when they inhaled vanilla (44.3 percent felt relaxed). 

Want a prescription for a chill pill? How about lighting a vanilla candle while you take a vanilla-scented bubble bath — and hey, why not unwind with some Vanilla Bean Cocofloss while you soak?           

Just what the doctor ordered

At the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, patients who breathed in heliotropin (a vanilla-like scent) while undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) experienced 63 percent less anxiety than those who just breathed unfragranced air.  

Hundreds of hospitals also provide newborns with vanilla-scented pacifiers to help calm babies with the soothing scent.  



You’re getting very sleepy

The National Sleep Foundation recommends vanilla as a top scent to help you get better sleep. They quote research by Columbia University Medical Center that showed that people who smelled vanilla during a stress test had more stable heart rates and blood pressure readings.

That’s good news for people who start making mental to-do lists the minute their head hits the pillow (by the way, those people should also take a moment to write down those lists so they can rest). For a dose of sweet dreams, try Vanilla Bean Cocofloss before bed.

You can also make your own vanilla-scented linen spray using Madagascar Bourbon or Tahitian beans. 



Peppermint Pep Up

The scent of superpowers 

Got a big presentation coming up? Time to break out the peppermint! Its invigorating scent works like a superhero cape for your brain, boosting memory, sharpening alertness, and increasing processing speeds, according to a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience

Wake me up before you go-go!

“Peppermint scent increases activity in the brain area that wakes us up in the morning,” says psychologist Bryan Raudenbush of Wheeling Jesuit University, who has researched the effect of the stimulating aroma on athletes.

In one study, Raudenbush discovered that peppermint can make people feel physically stronger, even if they aren’t. Athletes who whiffed the refreshing fragrance perceived a lower physical workload and experienced less frustration. They also self-evaluated their performance higher. In another peppermint study, athletes actually increased their running speed, number of push-ups, and hand-grip strength when peppermint was in the air. 

Try adding a some peppermint oil and water to a spray bottle and spritz some in your hair before your next workout. If nothing else, you’ll be the best-smelling person at the gym! 


Minty mood-booster

The brisk scent of peppermint can brighten your mood, according to the Sense of Smell Institute (the research and education division the Fragrance Foundation). It can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety and increase feelings of happiness

If you’re tired and stressed, peppermint oil is a good choice to add to your essential oil diffuser. Then kick back with a good book or perhaps treat yourself to a midday date with Pure Peppermint Cocofloss. You deserve it.   



Drop a dose of aromatherapy into your loved ones’ stockings this holiday season with Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, and Pure Peppermint Cocofloss! It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas! 



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