Aromatherapy and the Sense of Smell
Essential oils and the sense of smell
When they are inhaled through the nostrils, essential oil molecules are taken up deep into the brain. Just how the tiny aromatic molecules pass into the bloodstream is not entirely understood as yet, but research has shown that they come into contact with the part of the brain which regulates the nervous and hormonal systems in our bodies. This would explain why certain essential oils evoke a feeling of calm, others can make us feel refreshed, and some oils can revive us and make us feel more alert.
How to inhale essential oils
Essential oils can be breathed in using the following methods:
- Inhale directly from a bottle held about 6cms under the nose - one deep breath per nostril – do not allow the neat oil to come into contact with your skin, and be especially careful about your eyes. Follow the inhalation with some deep, relaxed breaths.
- Drop 1 drop of essential oil onto the palm of one hand, bring both hands together, then cup them gently over your nose. Breathe in slowly to the count of 3, and then exhale slowly to the count of 6.
- Drop 3 drops of essential oil into bowl of hot water and inhale the steam
- Burn 3-6 drops of essential oil in a vaporiser or light bulb ring in order to disperse them into the atmosphere
- Burn a genuine aromatherapy candle
Aromatherapy for stress management
Some essential oils help to regulate the body’s instinctive reaction to stress (known as “Fight or Flight”) by encouraging the nervous and hormonal systems to return to a balanced state.
Oils from the orange tree are particularly effective for relieving stress symptoms. Neroli (from the blossom), Petitgrain (from the leaves and twigs) and Orange (from the fruit) soothe the nervous system and have a regulating effect on the digestive system. Bergamot is another citrus oil which is used in stress management. Lavender is a very calming oil and can be used to promote restful sleep.
Frankincense is deeply comforting and Geranium is balancing for the nervous and hormonal systems. These oils are safe to use providing you observe the instructions provided with the oils. Neroli is an expensive oil, Frankincense, Bergamot, Geranium and Lavender are medium priced whereas Petitgrain and Orange are very affordable.
Aromatherapy for focus and concentration
- *Basil oil has the effect of clearing the mind and is useful in times of confusion or information overload
- *Rosemary has the effect of enhancing blood flow to the brain, strengthening the thought processes
- Peppermint has a very refreshing and cooling effect on the brain.
- Ginger acts as a fortifying mental pick-you-up and works well with jet-lag. Ginger is safe to inhale during pregnancy and is great for morning sickness.
- Grapefruit is another oil with a zesty influence. It’s your cheerful wake-up call!
- *Eucalyptus clears the lungs and helps oxygen flow to the bloodstream. It’s very good in polluted environments and stuffy atmospheres.
Make sure you purchase your essential oils from a reputable supplier and with full instructions for use.
Oils marked with * should not be used during pregnancy or by epileptics, diabetics or people with high blood pressure without expert guidance. Please note that citrus oils should not be used in the bath or in massage immediately before exposure to strong sunlight or using sun-tan equipment. Peppermint can be a skin irritant.