he Power of Scent
Aromatherapy is the use of organic essential oils, derived from aromatic plants, to catalyze inherent health and well-being, sexual attraction, beauty and creativity.
The power of scent begins when the chemical components of an odor created from volatile fragrant molecules, is transformed into nerve impulses. This information is pulsed to the limbic olfactory brain via the olfactory bulb. The limbic brain stores the scent as a memory. This aroma memory is stored where the core of sexuality, attraction, repulsion, moods, motivation and creativity resides. Here, the power of scent directly affects the neurotransmitters that reduce pain, increase energy and alertness, help us relax and motivate sense of well-being and will to live. Only unfamiliar or offensive odors pass through the cerebral cortex first. The limbic olfactory brain developed first when the sense of smell was paramount to survival. The neurotransmitters that stimulate and inspire the cortical, thought producing brain, originated the limbic brain as aromas.
Everything organic and alive has a unique odor. Every illness has a unique odor. As individuals, each of us acquires a unique scent in the womb we carry throughout life. This can be catalyzed and modified by essential oils, affecting our moods, immunity, stress management, circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Essential oils have been successfully used in healing for over 5,000 years. Until recently, no one understood why. In the 1920’s and 30’s, two Italian scientists, Dr. Cayola and Dr. Garri, conducted the first scientific experiments on the effect of essential oils on the nervous system. Calming or stimulating effects were measured in the breathing frequency, blood pressure and circulation. Their testing also confirmed the ability of essential oils to destroy bacteria. During this time, a professor at the University of Milan treated anxiety and depressive disorders using essential oil combinations. In 1937, the French chemist, Gattefosse’ published the first book on aromatherapy, describing medicinal and cosmetic applications. Since then, many methods and applications have been used to directly affect brain chemistry in less than 1/100th of a second, changing psychological, hormonal, pain, stress, memory, and sleep disorders.
Applied to the skin, essential oils pass through connective and lymphatic tissues into the circulatory system, affecting detoxification and immunity. The skin is the largest immune organ, detoxifying more environmental toxins and chemicals than the liver, while protecting against bacterial and viral invasion. Essential oils help balance helper and suppressor immune responses in the skin, reduce or retard bacterial and viral growth, and protect the skin through hydration, softening and preserving the epithelial tissues. Essential oils are more active and potent than any preservative used commercially. Their anti-aging properties are most effectively used in cosmetic and skincare.
Essential oils can enhance healing on multiple levels in the body and psyche without interfering with medications. Within 2 to 3 hours after smelling or applying essential oil dilutions on the body, the volatile oil compounds are excreted through the breath and urine. At least 80% of illness and disease can be positively corrected by proper essential oil usage, including obesity, a well known but little understood illness. Aromatherapy is unique in that it catalyzes the body to heal itself resulting in little or no side effects. Aromas coerce and train the body to respond positively to every challenge, utilizing all potentials to enhance healing. As in other “natural” modalities, aromatherapy is safe when used correctly. Therapeutic aromatic plants produce essential oils, usually through steam distillation and subsequent separation. The concentration of volatile and other properties in essential oils is 100 times greater than the original plants. Essential oils contain 50 to 500 other natural chemicals than the predominant scent. One drop of an essential oil contains millions of microscopic molecules. It requires several pounds of plant leaves and/ or flowers, such as in Province Lavender, to produce a teaspoon of pure essential oil. Synthetic essential oils, or nature synthetic oils, are not therapeutic. They are produced chemically in a lab and do not contain volatile oils which natural healing abilities. In fact, the word essential oil is misleading. These volatile oils, so sensitive to light heat, and air, only have an oily texture. They are mostly hydrocarbons, made from hydrogen and oxygen, known as terpines. Other properties may include alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, phenols, oxides, peroxides, lactones, acids and sometimes sulphur. These are naturally occurring substances available in foods. Essential oils are safe used topically in dilution. They are not safe internally, even in dilution, and should never be ingested. Essential oils are best stored in dark glass bottles, tightly sealed, away from heat and light. Store them in a refrigerator or dark, cool closet. Do not leave droppers with rubber bulb tops sealing essential oil containers. The volatile oils lift, degrade and destroy the rubber. Plastic insert caps are acceptable. Opened bottles are best used within a year. I will discuss safety issues with discussion of each essential oil. Knowledge is power.
In my professional experience, using essential oils in hospitals and clinics, essential oil therapy is quick, effective and safe. I have designed blends for bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients, used in totally sterile conditions longevity increased, medication usage decreased, as well as nausea, anxiety and pain levels.
Since then, I have designed blends for chemically dependents, chronic pain and sickle cell anemia, pulmonary, cardiac, immune deficiencies, most cancers, sleep disorders, ADD and ADHD, maternal and palliative care, inflammatory bowel disease, autism and the list continues as needs arise.
The applications of essential oils are topical and aromatic. Next week, I will begin to discuss dilution and carrier oils. Suggested recipes will included each week.
Until then, dilute 3 drops of your favorite essential oil in a cup of hot water as it diffuses in the room, notice how your body responds to the aroma. Enjoy!