This blog was originally published in 2015, updated in 2022.
As humans, our sense of smell is a crucial element of attraction.
Smell has a strong bond with memory—it’s why romance films show the forlorn hero smelling the sweater or pillowcase of a long lost lover. Aromas elicit emotional responses.
But are there aromas that stimulate initial, physical attraction in the brain? In other words, is it possible to create a love potion through scent?
Scientists and psychologists are still exploring how our sense of smell affects initial attraction. According to Psychology Today:
“Some researchers think scent could be the hidden cosmological constant in the sexual universe, the missing factor that explains who we end up with. It may even explain why we feel ‘chemistry’—or ‘sparks’ or ‘electricity’—with one person and not with another.”
While we may not know why or how aromas affect attraction just yet, there’s certainly historical evidence for aromas of love or “love potions.” Botanical aromas have been associated with love since antiquity. Orange blossoms (neroli) and jasmine in particular have deep roots in romantic history.
Let’s take a closer look…
Neroli Essential Oil
“The sun has left the lea,
The orange flower perfumes the bower,
The breeze is on the sea”
—Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), “Quentin Durward”
Neroli essential oil is created by steam distilling the blossoms of the bitter orange Citrus aurantium (L.) var. amara, and its aroma has been associated with royalty and beauty for centuries.
It is said that the word neroli is derived from the name of the Italian princess of Nerole, Anna Maria de La Tremoille (pictured right). Neroli was her favorite oil, and it soon became her “signature” scent.
Additionally, orange flowers have long been associated with fertility and weddings. Brides have traditionally worn headdresses adorned with orange blossoms.
It’s also possible that neroli C. aurantium may promote emotions of love and passion because it naturally encourages a healthy, peaceful mood and can help manage stress. On the simplest level, a calm, peaceful mood is naturally more open to attraction and new relationships.
The aroma: Neroli C. aurantium essential oil’s aroma is deeply floral and citrusy, with a hint of wildness. Neroli blends well with:
- All citrus oils
- Jasmine Jasminum sambac
- Ylang ylang Cananga odorata var. genuina
- Rose Rosa damascena
Jasmine Sambac Absolute
Jasmine Jasminum sambac (L.) has long been associated with love. Even it’s name, derived from the Persian word yasmin, or “moonshine in the garden,” drips of romance.
Legends tell that Cleopatra (pictured below) wooed Marc Antony with its heady, floral aroma.
In India, jasmine flowers are traditionally used in wedding garlands, decorations, and scattered across marriage beds.
As a floral scent often used in perfumery, there may be reasons why jasmine elicits feelings of romance—jasmine is a known stimulant and can possibly stimulate memory.
One study examined the effects of jasmine J. sambac inhalation on brain wave activity and emotions. The study concluded that jasmine had an effect on the nervous system and could affect brain wave activities and mood states.
An older but relevant 1992 study examined whether ambient odor could serve as a cue for retrieval of verbal stimuli. Forty-seven subjects memorized words while simultaneously inhaling jasmine, or a perfume. After two days, the researchers found that the recall of the subjects exposed to the aroma was better than those not exposed.
With memory so closely related to emotion, there may be something within jasmine that triggers nostalgia and memory—two possible ingredients for attraction. This is speculation of course, but it’s fascinating to see how aromas affect our brains and bodies.
Jasmine J. sambac is also widely known to support a happy, healthy mood and emotional balance. A 2010 study investigated the stimulating effects of J. sambac on the mood. When applied to the abdomen, the researchers noted that J. sambac increased “breathing rate, blood oxygen saturation … which indicated an increase of autonomic arousal.”
Again, a healthy, happy, and emotionally balanced spirit will emit energy that attracts equally positive energy… a desired advantage when looking for love.
The aroma: Jasmine sambac J. sambac absolute emits a floral, warm, exotic, and heady aroma. Jasmine J. sambac blends well with:
- All citrus oils (including neroli)
- Clary sage Salvia sclarea
- Sandalwood Santalum album
Love Potions in Action
Whether or not neroli C. aurantium and jasmine J. sambac essential oils prompt attraction, they remain wonderful oils for perfumery and mood support. Next time you want to feel a little more flirty and fresh, give this blend a go:
UPLIFTING ROMANCE BLEND:
Neroli Citrus aurantium var. amara oil: 9 drops
Jasmine Jasminum sambac absolute: 7 drops
Pink peppercorn Schinus terebinthifolia oil: 4 drops
Rose Rosa damascena oil: 2 drops
Camellia oil Camellia sinensis: 1 ounce
Blend the essential oils and apply externally as frequently as required. Note: J. sambac can be substituted with J. grandiflorum.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I am the President and Founder of American College of Healthcare Sciences, the Institution that publishes this blog. However, all opinions are my own. This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
 Svoboda, E. (2008, January 1). Scents and sensibility. Retrieved November 30, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200712/scents-and-sensibility
 Choi, S., Kang, P., Lee, H., & Seol, G. (2014). Effects of inhalation of essential oil of citrus aurantium L. Var. Amara on Menopausal symptoms, stress, and estrogen in Postmenopausal women: A Randomized controlled trial. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM.. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=neroli+Citrus+aurantium+(L.)+var.+amara
 Sayowan, W., Siripornpanich, V., Ruangrungsi, N., Hongratanaworakit, T., & Kotchabhakdi, N. (2013). The effects of jasmine oil inhalation on brain wave activities and emotions. Journal of Health Research, 27(2), 73–77. Retrieved from http://www.researchgate.net/publication/236235613_THE_EFFECTS_OF_JASMINE_OIL_INHALATION_ON_BRAIN_WAVE_ACTIVIES_AND_EMOTIONS
 Smith, D.G., Standing, L., & De Man, A. (1992). Verbal Memory elicited by ambient odor. Percep Motor Skill, 74:339-343.
 Paul, M. (2013, September 2). 5 keys to attracting the love of your life.Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-paul-phd/love-yourself_b_3533053.html
Marie Anne de La Trémoille, Princess of Nerole. Public Domain.
Antony and Cleopatra, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Public Domain.