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The Science of Essential Oils: How Do They Work?

an essential oil blend for sleep styled on a bed with a book and glasses

There are many benefits to using essential oils. The history of these essences is extensive and they have been used to support health and well-being for thousands of years. It's even said, "The therapeutic use of aromatic plants seems to be as old as human civilisation itself" - IFA

The ancients used essential oils to treat a variety of issues ranging from anxiety and depression to colds and flu, and they trusted them because they worked.

how do essential oils work?

smelling an essential oil blend in a glass vial

Essential oils are either inhaled or applied topically (to the skin).

When essential oils are inhaled, they interact with the Olfactory System (cells and organs related to your sense of smell), and the Limbic System (A very primitive part of the brain that connects to others that control blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, memory, stress levels, and even hormone balance), therefore having profound effects on the body, physiologically and psychologically.

When applied topically to the skin they must, at first be diluted with a carrier oil/base oil such as Sweet Almond Oil or Grapeseed Oil. If applied undiluted to the skin, they can cause skin irritation, or extreme skin reactions, especially on sensitive skin or people with allergies. Although essential oils are all-natural and pure, they are still chemicals, so safety must be taken when using them.

When essential oils are applied to the skin correctly through massage, the oils are absorbed and carried around the body via the bloodstream, delivering many benefits to the body and its organs.

An essential oil dropper bottle on a white background next to rose petals

what are the effects of essential oils?

Psychological effects

Located high up inside the nose, the Olfactory System is responsible for our sense of smell. When we smell an aroma, the nerve endings are stimulated and relay messages to the Limbic system. The Limbic System then causes the body to respond, activating the instinctual behaviour and triggering many different emotions.

For example:

  • The smell of freshly baked bread may cause a person to salivate.

  • The smell of Lavender oil might remind you of an Aunt who may have worn a lavender fragrance. Depending on how you got on with this Aunt will depend on the emotion this fragrance triggers, which will then affect your opinion of scent.

  • Smelling an essential oil blend like our Sleep blend will cause a sedating effect on the mind because of the properties the oils hold.

An aromatherapy back massage.

Physiological effects

There are several ways essential oils can affect the body when applied to the skin.

  • Most oils have natural antibacterial properties.

  • The Cardiovascular system can be stimulated by Rosemary, Eucalyptus, and Black Pepper, resulting in increased local circulation.

  • Chamomile can help to lower your body temperature whilst Camphor can raise it.

  • Blood pressure can be decreased by Lavender and heart rate can be stimulated by Camphor.

  • Fennel, Peppermint, Rose, and Clary Sage have an antispasmodic effect on the respiratory system, which helps to lessen muscle spasms.

  • Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, and Rose are said to have an aphrodisiac effect.

And Lavender oil has been known to help heal burns, cuts, and bruises...

"after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped “the gasification of the tissue”. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day" - René-Maurice Gattefossé 1910

So you see, Mother Nature's medicine cabinet is just outside the window, and ancient civilizations knew this. Without their writings, we would know absolutely nothing about these beautiful essences. More on the history of Essential oils and Aromatherapy can be found here.

For now though, discover our pure Essential oil blends, all expertly blended to support your health and well-being. Or find the one that works for you with our Essential oil Sample box.


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