Our Sense of Smell and Aromatherapy

Essential Oils enter the body through both the skin and the nose. The tiny aromatic molecules of essential oils may be dispersed into the air where they reach the olfactory system of our bodies through inhalation. Essential oils may also be absorbed by the skin, the largest organ of the body, from the application of various lotions, creams, rubs, etc. Today, I want to give some basics on how the sense of smell works to process essential oils.

 

A Little About The Olfactory System

During inhalation, the volatile molecules of essential oils pass across the olfactory epithelium, a small patch at the top of the nasal cavity containing thousands of receptor cells, where the odors are converted into messages that are relayed to the brain for processing. These impulses about the smell are transmitted to the olfactory cortex of the brain bringing about a conscious perception of the smell. The limbic system in the frontal lobe of the brain brings about an interpretation, while the hippocampus recounts any previous memories, and the amygdala an emotional response to the aroma. The hypothalmus triggers glandular responses to smell in the body and the reticular formation integrates the mind and body and connects the emotions with memories.

Amazing Connections!

This sense of smell triggers both psychological and physiological responses in the body. It is truly amazing how the limbic system links to memory, emotions, hormones, sexuality and even heart rate. Neurochemicals and endorphins are triggered by these impulses to stimulate, sedate, relax, restore emotional equalibrium, or cause euphoria, which then brings about a mental and physical change. The limbic system, pituitary gland,and hypothalamus all work in coordination to regulate the hormonal activities of the endocrine system, which triggers the production of the hormones that control body temperature, appetite, insulin production, overall metabolism. Each of these body activities in turn greatly affects our immunity, stress levels, and sex drive, as well as driving our conscious thoughts and reactions.

Interesting Snippets

Smell is ten times more sensitive than taste.

Although smell is incredibly precise, it is almost impossible to describe a smell to someone who has not smelled it.

It only takes 0.5 seconds to respond to smell as compared to 0.9 seconds to react to pain.

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