Autumnal Aromatics

Did you know that flavor is actually a result of aroma? Our mouths are equipped with taste buds on our tongues and palates that determine whether foods are sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and savory. We can also detect, with our sense of touch, other qualities—temperature, spiciness, and textures like creaminess and crunchiness. But our sense of smell is what gives foods their flavor. The process is called olfactory referral. Cells at the end of our nasal passages collect information and send it to our mouths.(1)

Dr. Mehmet Oz believes in aromatherapy for such things as pain relief and rejuvenation. And because the brain can’t turn off a scent, its effects are immediate.(2) Vanilla can help you relax and can even help reduce cravings for sweets. Green apple can take away headaches and can even help control appetite, as can peppermint!

If flavors like pumpkin, vanilla, apple, and cinnamon rely so much on our sense of smell to make their delicious points, then perhaps we can enjoy them almost as much without eating them.

Make the most of fall and the upcoming holidays with a few do-it-yourself items that can stimulate your senses and quell some of your seasonal cravings.

Pumpkin is an excellent source of vitamin A, a retinoid considered to be the best age fighter. It reduces wrinkles, softens rough patches, and fades dark spots, which is why you find it in so many skin-care products.

Pumpkin Pie Facial
Recipes for DIY pumpkin masks abound, but we like this Pumpkin Pie Facial.

  • 1 C canned pumpkin
  • 2 T yogurt (Greek is best)
  • 2 T honey.

Optional: a dash of pumpkin pie spice.
Apply the mixture to a clean face, let sit for 10 minutes, and rinse off. (Some say the enzymes and vitamins are best activated in a moist environment, so you might want to apply before a tub soak.) Follow with moisturizer. You can refrigerate the leftovers and use it again in a few days.

Pumpkin Pie Milk Bath
If you just can’t get enough of the scents of the season, try this delicious and relaxing bath.

  • 1.5 C dry milk powder
  • 1/2 C ground oatmeal
  • 2 T pumpkin pie spice

Mix ingredients and add to your bath for a delicious skin-softening, dry-skin-relieving, circulation-improving spa treatment.

Scented products like candles and potpourri (check out Women’s Day’s recipe for Apple Spice potpourri—http://www.womansday.com/home/decorating-ideas/make-your-own-autumn-potpourri-91216) don’t really need to tame your appetite or relieve your pain or even substitute for the high-calorie desserts that sabotage your hard work.

They just have to smell good.

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