Aromatherapy is far more than just the smell. While most people's concept of aromatherapy is something more akin to recreational fragrancing, essential oils can have a powerful effect on your health - emotionally, mentally and physically.
In the following discussion, I will break down the benefits of aromatherapy in terms the fragrance, chemistry and frequency of an essential oil.
Aromatic influences of essential oils:
The fragrance of an essential oil comes from its chemistry. Even a relatively simple essential oil is an intricate mosaic of many chemical constituents, each providing important contributions to the whole. And, this fragrance can directly affect every aspect of your life, from your emotional state to your lifespan.
When you breathe in the fragrance of an oil, its aromatic molecules travel up the nose and are gathered in the olfactory membranes. These are lined with the olfactory epithelium, consisting of hundreds of millions of nerve cells. Each molecule of an essential oil fits like a key in a lock in specific receptor cell sites located in this olfactory epithelium, and when specific aromatic molecules stimulate these receptor cells, electrical impulses are stimulated and pass to the olfactory bulb, located in the base of the brain. These impulses are then transmitted to the limbic system, which includes:
- The hypothalamus, the hormone control center, governing the production of growth hormones, sex hormones, thyroid hormones and neurotransmitters,
- The amygdala, where emotional memories are stored,
and other parts of the limbic system that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance.
Because of this “hot wire" connection, simply breathing in the fragrance of an essential oil can trigger an immediate response - from relaxing away stress and anxiety, lifting your mood or releasing emotional trauma, to calming the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, releasing specific hormones or neurotransmitters, or making you feel alert, invigorated and mentally sharp.
In this way, the fragrance of essential oils can have a profound effect on every part of your well-being.
The chemistry of essential oils:
As noted above, even a simple oil is not simple. It may contain anywhere from 80 to several hundred chemical constituents. Some 2,000 of these aromatic substances have been identified, along with their therapeutic actions.
Some of these aromatic molecules are highly anti-viral, anti-bacterial or anti-fungal. Others are powerful cancer-fighting agents. Some have hormone-like properties; others are highly anti-inflammatory. Whether used “neat" or diluted in massage oils, lotions or salves, for virtually any therapeutic action needed, there are aromatic molecules that can provide it. Essential oils were, in fact, mankind's first medicine.
But, what makes aromatherapy superior to other health modalities is the chemical complexity of the oils. Any one oil may contain several “conflicting" therapeutic properties; meaning that an oil like lavender, for example, can be both relaxing and stimulating. Because of this chemical balance within the oil, the oils tend to have powerful balancing effects on the body.
Therapeutic-Grade.com provides more information about the powerful potential of aromatic molecules on your health, learn why you should diffuse therapeutic-grade essential oils . Aromatherapy and Fragrance: It's more than just the smell !