Feeling blue? Sniff a lemon

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THE ZINGY fresh scent of a lemon may help elevate your mood, according to new research. Scientists at the Center for Autoimmune Diseases at Tel Aviv University recently discovered a link between depression and our sense of smell, and found that citrus fragrances — lemons in particular — directly affected neurotransmitters in the brains of mice. The aromas help boost serotonin, a feel-good hormone, and reduce levels of norepinephrine, a stress hormone.

HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS: Everybody responds to aromatherapy differently, says Beverley Hawkins of the West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy in Vancouver, B.C. To find what works for you, experiment with scents — lemon and orange boost energy; sandalwood and ylang-ylang calm anxiety — and keep a record of how each makes you feel. (Consult a certified aromatherapist before using oils topically.)

* At home. Use a few drops of essential oil in a tea light-fueled diffuser for two hours. Or burn a citrus-based candle in your office to sharpen your focus, says Asa Hoffman, co-owner of the Daughters of Isis aromatherapy line in Florida.
* At work. For a mood boost, add a drop of essential lemon oil to a handkerchief you can sniff throughout the day.

IT WORKED FOR ME: Samantha White (not her real name), 35, a business owner from Richmond, Va., struggled with depression for 15 years before hearing that aromatherapy could help. She was skeptical, but says, "After using grapefruit and ylang-ylang oils in my shampoo, shower gel, and lotion, I didn't need antidepressants."

WIN FREE STUFF: For a chance to win a collection of essential oils, see naturalhealthmag.com/oilgiveaways.

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By Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

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