How Essential Oils Work?
As much as we love essential oils and all the amazing things they can do for us, it definitely helps to know how they work within our bodies to help us to use them optimally. This information is here to help put across facts about aromatherapy in a simple and easy-to-understand manner. Essential oils can enter the body via two pathways – the nose (inhalation) and the skin (topic application, massage, baths).
• When essential oil’s are inhaled, the molecules are quickly picked up by the tiny hairs in our nostrils (cilia) and are absorbed into the mucous lining from where the aroma reaches the ‘smell centre’ in the brain (olfactory bulb) which is then acts as an amplifier through the olfactory nerve.
• The olfactory centre converts the aroma into a neural code which is relayed across to the ‘emotion centre’ (limbic system) and further to the ‘long term memory centre’ (hypothalamus) where it will continue on to either the ANS (Autonomic nervous system) or the pituitary gland to stimulate hormone activity.
• Nose —-> Smell centre —-> Emotional centre —-> Short term memory —-> Long term memory —-> Master gland —-> Endocrine system.
• In this simple way, the brain establishes a strong connection between certain smells, emotions and memories and responds to it in a predictable way. The scent is then compared to a known scent and compared, so we can have memories associated with the scent information and react physically and emotionally through our autonomic nervous system.
• Oils like Lavender, Ylang- Ylang, Lemongrass, Camomile and Bergamot can be directly transported to the lungs the process can take a matter of seconds from the initial inhalation of the essential oil to corresponding gland. Therefore, a simple inhalation can cause changes in the body from stimulating the immune system, to initiating the digestive system into action and so on.
Written by Abbie Thistlewhite