The benefits of essential oils are extensive. They have been used to support health and well-being for thousands of years with the aim of treating a variety of issues ranging from anxiety and depression to cold and flu.
So, how do essential oils work?
Essential oils are either inhaled or applied topically. When applied topically on the skin they must be diluted with a carrier oil to be safe to use. Undiluted, they may cause skin irritation and maybe worse if you have any allergies. When applied to the skin in this way, either through massage or pulse points, the oils are absorbed and are carried around the body via the blood stream delivering many benefits to the body and it's organs.
When essential oils are inhaled they interact with the Olfactory System (cells and organs related to sense of smell) and Limbic System (connected to parts of the brain that control blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, memory, stress levels and even hormone balance), therefore having profound effects on the body, physiologically and psychologically.
For example, when inhaled, Eucalyptus can soothe a cough, Peppermint, to boost energy and enhance mental focus and many others that can ease anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Psychological Effects of essential oils
Is located high up inside the nose and is responsible for our sense of smell. When we smell an aroma, the nerve endings in the Olfactory system are stimulated and relay messages to the Lymbic system, which then causes the body to respond.
The smell of freshly baked bread may cause a person to salivate.
The smell of Lavender oil might remind you of a favourite aunt who wears a lavender fragrance, therefore triggering a memory.
The primary Olfactory cortex and higher Olfactory areas in the brain are responsible for recognising what we have smelled and associating it with other information like the examples above.
Is a very primitive part of the brain which is connected to areas that control blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, memory, stress levels and even hormone balance. When the Olfactory system sends messages to the Lymbic System it then activates instinctual behaviour and emotion.
Smelling a sedative essential oil will cause a sedating effect on the mind and body. Perfect for a relaxing evening.
Smelling a stimulating essential oil will cause a stimulating, awakening effect on the mind and body. Perfect for morning.
Physiological Effects of Essential Oils
There are several ways essential oils can affect the body in this way when used to inhale or with topical application.
Most oils have an antibacterial effect.
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 many more.
The fine, delicate complexity of essential oils cannot be duplicated synthetically with inorganic chemicals. This is why essential oils affect our moods and emotions and synthetic perfumes do not.
What is the history behind essential oils? Learn more.
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