Our sense of smell is an incredible thing. The calming scent of freshly cut grass, ocean air, the nostalgic fragrance of your childhood shampoo. Aroma invokes powerful sensations and has been accepted into therapy methods to balance and alleviate emotional trauma, commonly known as Aromatherapy. Essential oils are at the heart of such practices: eucalyptus, lavender, citrus, peppermint, sandalwood are some of the most commonly used. Their aromatic compounds are captured from their plant derivatives and are combined with a carrier oil, which as a result can be inhaled or used topically in treatments. Some things can’t quite replace the comforting smell of your mum’s perfume, but the powerful aroma of essential oils can stimulate emotions that are just as soothing. Let’s understand how.
The aromatic chemicals when inhaled react within the brain to stimulate certain emotions, behaviours and even powerful memories. The olfactory system (or commonly known as the sense of smell) is made up of a set of neurones within the nasal passage which detect scent molecules and transmit that information to the limbic system within our brains. The limbic system controls our mood, memory and behaviour, which can be influenced by aromatic compounds. Aromatherapy has been tailored to maximise upon this process, and is used to treat stress, anxiety and depression, even migraines, with just the inhalation of essential oils. Breathing can be calmed and heart rate brought down without the need for medication. Aromatherapy is a truly powerful alternative. Not only does the aroma of essential oils have a physical impact on its users, but it also has the power to trigger memories. Our sense of smell is the strongest of the five senses. Some of our most evocative and emotive memories are linked with particular scents, both good and bad. The perfume industry is built upon this emotional connection, while Aromatherapy has the potential to harness these same emotions through neurochemistry.
The power of aroma from essential oils has the potential to harness the benefits that our balanced emotions have upon our mental state. Citrus-based aromas can help alleviate feelings of depression, while lavender’s calming properties can help to tackle insomnia. By introducing essential oils into our daily lives, the power of aroma can make a positive impact on both our mental and physical wellbeing.