Plumes of steam infused with light citrus notes greet the senses at Japanese retailer Muji in Stanford Shopping Center. In a corner of the store, the bustling activity of the mall is momentarily forgotten as an array of aroma diffusers gently lull passersby into relaxation. Muji’s aroma diffusers, similar to the diffusers in the Palo Alto High School Wellness Center, use ultrasonic waves to vaporize scented essential oils, dispersing mist throughout the room. Some believe that the various scents serve different purposes, ranging from alleviating stress to promoting focus to exterminating odors.

“When we inhale air, particularly air that is infused with essential oils, it goes to the roof of our nose,” says Carolina Padilla-Pineda, Paly’s Mental Health Services therapist. “Olfactory receptors in the nose then transport the information to the limbic system, where our emotions are processed.

While diffusers may be too costly for Paly students, with most ranging from $30-$120, there are a multitude of easily accessible options that allow students to experience aromatherapy on their own, including a scented Play-Doh-esque clay.   v

DIY Aromatheraputic Play-Doh

Ingredients – 1 cup flour, 1 cup water, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp vinegar, 3 tbsp salt, 3-4 drops essential oil of choice, food coloring (optional)

Photo by James Poe

STEP ONE – In microwave-safe dish, mix together flour, olive oil, vinegar and salt, slowly stirring in water until the consistency is thick.

STEP TWO – Place bowl in the microwave, heating the mixture in intervals of 45 seconds until it begins to solidify into a dough-like texture. STEP THREE – Knead dough until no longer sticky to the touch, microwaving again if needed. Add 3-4 drops of your favorite essential oil and food coloring if desired.