Country air has always had a cleansing effect on the whole body.

But some of the fresh smells found naturally in country air have specific healing powers to clear the head and ease the spirit, according to Country America magazine.These healing powers are called aromatherapy, which is an example of the growing interest in natural ways to achieve good health, along with exercise and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, soothing music and pleasant sights and sounds. These have all recently become more accepted and popular.

Aromatherapy is a new name for an ancient healing practice. It's the breathing of fragrances of healthful herbs that lifts our spirits, soothes our minds and relaxes our bodies.

Much of what ails us is more than just physical. Peptic ulcers, colitis, headaches, muscular pains and high blood pressure are just a few of the ailments that relate directly to our stress level and harried state of mind. The theory behind aromatherapy is that if the mind can be soothed, good health for the whole person will follow on its heels.

Aromatherapy relies on the use of essential plant oils. They are available from natural food and herb stores and farms. They are highly concentrated, so just a few drops at a time are all that's needed.

For a clogged nose or a tight chest, try these plant oils as an expectorant: Put a few drops of eucalyptus, pine, rosemary or thyme oil in a bowl of just-boiled water, and breathe the vapors every three to four hours for a few minutes each time.

If having a bout of insomnia or just simply needing to relax, blend any of these oils into sachets, potpourris, candles or powders, or mix a few drops with water to breathe in: verbena, lemon, violet, geranium, thyme, lavender, mint, pansy, clove, orange, lime, spearmint, cinnamon, nutmeg, lilac and honeysuckle.