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How Aromatherapy Works

Herb Garden

Smell is an extremely powerful sense and the aromas that we experience every day have a direct impact on our health, both physical and emotional. Human beings have the ability to distinguish more than 10,000 different odors. These smells enter the body through the receptor pads in the nose, are transferred quickly into the bloodstream, and flow directly to the limbic system, which controls our emotions, memory, moods, and ability to learn. This section of the brain is closely connected to the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, which in turn controls our hormones. In essence, scents initiate various chemical reactions within the body that affect the body systems and our sense of physical and emotional well-being. These reactions can occur immediately following the inhalation of certain aromas because the olfactory nerves are directly linked to the limbic system.

Essential oils are volatile substances that will evaporate immediately when in contact with the air; we inhale them no matter what method is being practiced in an aromatherapy treatment. These essential oils contain more than 100 chemical elements that strongly affect the body and mind. Each oil is made up of different combinations of these chemicals and science has discovered that each oil specifically targets certain systems or organs in the body. For example, some oils relieve pain and others induce a calming effect on the emotions.
Aromatherapy is an ancient science that uses essential oils to provide relief of physical conditions and promote positive effects on the mind and spirit. This science studies the effect of individual oils, along with the benefits associated with blending different essential oils. These treatments are non-invasive and leave no harmful components behind in the body.

Aromatherapy treatments can influence the body three different ways: physiologically (impacts various body systems, including the skin), psychologically (affects the mind) and pharmaceutical (stimulates the hormones and enzymes). There are two methods by which essential oils can be absorbed into the body: topical application and inhalation (either direct or through aerial diffusion). Each method has benefits for the recipient and should be determined by the immediate needs of the person using the essential oil.

  • Topical application: The skin is the largest organ of the body and is semi-permeable, which means tiny molecules can penetrate and pass into the bloodstream by means of diffusion. Essential oils by nature are fat soluble, which means they dissolve easily in sebum, which is produced in the body to make the skin and hair waterproof. After dissolving into this substance, essential oils have the direct route right into the capillaries and then to the rest of the body. Topical applications can also affect the skin itself and treat an assortment of conditions associated with this organ such as acne, rosacea, and psoriasis. Many commercial beauty products designed for skincare contain essential oils.
  • Inhalation: When we breathe in air during an aromatherapy treatment, we also take in essential oils that have evaporated during the process. Inhaling essential oils occurs during a topical application as well, but there are many tools and treatments designed to make inhalation easier such as diffusers, sprays, and vaporizers. Inhalation is the quickest method of treatment when utilizing essential oils because absorption through the skin can take a greater amount of time.

Regardless of the treatment method, aromatherapy is a pleasurable process that can benefit your body, mind, spirit, workplace, home, and other aspects of your life while utilizing only natural and wholesome ingredients. Even if the goal is only a pleasantly scented home, your family will still reap health benefits as the fragrance of the chosen essential oil wafts through the rooms.

It has become increasingly obvious that our synthetic, stressful, environmentally polluted world is making us sick, both physically and in spirit. Creating balance and harmony, both inside and outside our bodies, is crucial to our health and well-being. The science of aromatherapy has enjoyed a resurgence of interest, especially in the West, as people look for the key to understanding and improving the functioning of their body. Learning how to benefit from essential oils does not have to be expensive process because many effective essential oil treatments can be created in your own home with a little knowledge and quality ingredients.