Aromatherapy (also known as Essential Oils) is the ancient practice of using plant oils for health and wellbeing -- and has been used for centuries. In ancient Egypt, Rome, China, Greece, and India, essential oils were used frequently in rituals or religious practices, as these ancient people discovered that essential oils had the ability to influence feelings and uplift mood.
Today you will find more and more hospitals and clinics are using essential oils for a variety of conditions such as stress, nervousness, pain relief, mental alertness, sadness, anxiousness, and sleep. The benefits, combined with the absence of side effects found in traditional medicine, make it an attractive alternative.
How Does Aromatherapy Work?
Simply – when a particular smell comes in contact with the limbic system, via the network of fine hair called cilia which form the inner lining of the nose, it reaches the center of the brain processing olfactory stimuli - which also controls moods, memory, emotions, and learning.
The Sense of Smell and the Limbic System
1. The olfactory bulb is one of the structures of the limbic system and a very ancient part of the brain. As mentioned in the previous description of the olfactory process, the information captured by the sense of smell goes from the olfactory bulb to other structures of the limbic system.
2. The limbic system is a network of connected structures near the middle of the brain linked to the central nervous system. These structures “work together to affect a wide range of behaviors including emotions, motivation, and memory”. This system deals with instinctive or automatic behaviors, and has little, if anything, to do with conscious thought or will.
3. The limbic system is also concerned with translating sensory data from the neocortex (the thinking brain) into motivational forces for behavior. The limbic system is centrally involved in the mediation between a person’s recognition of an event, their perception of it as stressful, and the resulting physiological reaction to it, mediated via the endocrine system: Stimuli are processed conceptually in the cortex, and passed to the limbic system where they are evaluated and a motivational response is formulated.
Improve clarity & focus
Create a sense of calm
Soothe anxious and/or stressful feelings
Improve cellular and respiratory health
Improve immune system
The three main application methods:
Inhalation, Topical, and Internal
Direct Inhalation- Fragrance is the substance of memories. In less than 20-30 seconds, a scent has the power to activate a number of physical and emotional responses. That is why inhaling the oils can have a great effect on emotions. The only way to reach that part of your brain is through your nose.
Topically- Because of their molecular structure, Essential Oils are rapidly absorbed by the skin. Applying the oils to your feet is a great way to absorb the oils into your body. With over 2,000 pores in each foot, they have some of the largest pores on your body.
Internal - NOT recommended unless under the supervision of a Certified Aromatherapist!
PLEASE DO NOT USE Essential Oils directly from the bottle onto your skin (NEAT) Dilution is Necessary!
Diluting your Essential Oils is "key" to safety and effectiveness, as they are highly concentrated plant compounds. Here are a few reasons why to dilute:
It’s potentially harmful - our skin was simply not designed to come into contact with pure, undiluted essential oils on a regular basis. It can cause atopic dermatitis (aka “sensitization").
It’s not as effective - research shows that diluting essential oils prevents evaporation, increases skin absorbability and helps enhance their healing power.
It’s not sustainable - using Essential Oils in larger quantities is simply wasteful. Sadly, this could possibly lead some plants to extinction because of the demand and harvesting of these plants. Contact a Certified Aromatherapist with questions OR take a class--Knowledge is Power!
I encourage you to use the GIFTS these Essential Oils provide us safely and wisely.
Be Well, my friend!