The term ‘aromatherapy’ refers to the therapeutic effect derived from the ‘aroma’ of pure essential oils.
Essential oils are nature’s living energy and are used to promote physical and emotional wellbeing. The fragrance of an essential oil can directly influence the emotional centre of the brain and help to balance emotions, remove negativity and uplift the mood.
When fragrance is inhaled, the odour molecules travel up the nostrils to the centre of olfactory sensation. The olfactory bulb then transmits the impulses to other parts of the brain including the gustatory centre (where the sensation of taste is perceived), the amygdala (where emotional memories are stored) and other parts of the limbic system.
The limbic system of the brain (the emotional control centre) is connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. Using essential oils can therefore work at a holistic level and can have profound physiological and psychological/emotional effects.
The sense of smell is the only one of the five senses directly linked to the limbic lobe of the brain. Anxiety, depression, fear, anger and joy all emanate from this region. The scent of a fragrance can evoke memories and emotions before we are even aware of it. The limbic lobe can also activate the hormone control centre of the brain known as the hypothalamus. Pure therapeutic grade essential oils can stimulate the limbic lobe and hypothalamus through their fragrance and unique molecular structure.
The fragrance does not have to be intense to be effective and even when the scent passes the positive effects of the essential oils will linger. The benefits of essential oils are far reaching … not at all limited to just a beautiful fragrance!
Ref: Essential oils desk reference 6th edition, Life Science Publishing; The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy 2nd edition, Salvatore Battaglia