Ah... a fragrance washes over you
and suddenly you are transported
back in time to a treasured moment from long ago.... That is
the beauty, the essence, the miracle of subtle aromatherapy.
Organic aromas such as
freshly baked bread, a newly mown lawn, the salty sea, or the
sweet smell of the earth after a rainfall fill our everyday lives.
This is the sensory world of smell, which is one of the
ways our being gives and receives information.
Aromas are received through
the olfactory system of the nose. The olfactory membranes
under the bony covering of the nose contain hundreds of millions
of extremely sensitive nerve endings for receiving and processing
aromas. Microscopic vaporized oil particles from every organic
substance enter the nose and float along specialized cilia which
differentiate each chemical and respond in kind by generating
a unique code of nervous impulses which are received by the central
nervous system. These impulses then begin a long but momentary
First they are carried
to the limbic mid-brain (the center of our emotionals
and memories), and then to the base of the brain, which
is the pathway between the spine and higher brain centers, passing
between the pituitary gland (switchboard of the endocrine
system and ALL emotions) and the pineal gland (regulates
our biological clock and stimulates our inner vision) and then
to a little known part of the brain called the amygdala,
which stores and releases emotional trauma. Finally the impulses
travel to our taste perception, the gustatory center of the brain.
It is no wonder odors, smells and aromas create such a biological
and emotional response!
The molecular chemistry
of the essence of a plant, its essential oil, is diverse
and complicated. Each chemical constituent creates
a singular effect. For example, oils containing sesquiterpenes,
such as Frankincense and Sandalwood, are able to
pass the blood brain barrier in the brain, allowing oxygenation
of the pineal and pituitary glands.
"In studies conducted
at Vienna and Berlin Universities, researchers found that sesquiterpenes
in the essential oils of sandalwood and frankincense
can increase levels of oxygen in the brain by up to 28% (Nasel,
1992). Such an increase in brain oxygen may lead to a heightened
level of activity in the hypothalamus and limbic system of the
brain, which can have dramatic effects not only on emotions,
learning, and attitude, but also on many physical processes of
the body, such as immune function, hormone balance, and energy
levels. High levels of sesquiterpenes also occur in melissa (lemon
balm), myrrh, and clove oil." From
"Essential Oils Desk Reference" compiled by Essential
This synergy from
the combination of the many constituents unique to each plants
essential oil is powerful indeed.
When applied to the skin,
the plants life-force is absorbed into the bodys
which eventually circulates through the organ and glandular systems
of the body and eventually through all fluids and tissues of
the body. The foot is the most porous of all the body's skin.
Rub a clove of garlic on the bottom of your foot and in 1-3 minutes
you will taste it in your mouth and feel the sensation
in your nose! Essential oils applied to the feet, the most
porous part of the body, travel throughout the body and affect
the cells, including the hair, in just 10-20 minutes.
New research suggests
that because the olfactory nerves are similar to other nerves
in the body, they may have the ability to form and transmit intelligent
codes of information to all other parts of the body via neurotransmitter
chemicals in the body. Recent research suggests that intelligence
occurs not only in the brain but inside neurotransmitters.
There is no doubt that
essential oils through inhalation and the direct application
to the skin affect not only the physical body, but the mind,
emotions and spirit. The potential for healing is enormous
with therapeutic-grade essential oils. We are only beginning
to understand their power and effectiveness. I invite you to
explore and experiment with the oils. Remember, go slow, inhaling
or applying only one or two oils at a time. Savor each oil and
give each one time for its voice to speak to you. Soon, you will
know the oils intimately. Enjoy!