Therapeutic grade essential oils are volatile aromatic compounds found in seeds, barks, stems, roots, flowers and other parts of plants. These potent compounds are small organic molecules that tend to change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature and thus easily move through the air to interact with the Olfactory sensors in the nose. Aromatherapy is when we use these precious plant compounds topically, aromatically and internally to benefit our physical and emotional wellbeing.
Topically Essential Oils are easily absorbed by the skin as they are extremely small with a molecular weight of less then 500 Dalton( the standard measurement unit of atomic mass) and travel through the bloodstream to different organs of the body.
Our Emotions are complex multi factorial responses triggered by multiple mechanisms and stimuli. Happiness, Fear, Anger, Sadness, Love, Stress, Guilt, Peace and sometimes a combination of two for example Fear and Anger or Love and Peace at the same time. So how do Essential Oils affect our Emotions? When we inhale an aroma tiny essential oil molecules come into contact and stimulate Olfactory receptors ( tiny hairs called cilia) in the Olfactory epithelium of the nose sending electrical like signals to the Olfactory Bulb. The Olfactory system is responsible for controlling our sense of smell and communicates directly to the Limbic System which is the part of the brain that controls our emotions, behaviour, motivation, memories and learning. An emotional response to an aroma will be based on any memories that are associated with that smell and can of course be different for all of us. Each Essential Oil has a unique chemical profile that gives the oil special properties and benefits and when we understand these we can target emotions and manage our mood. There are a variety of plant sources all with different chemical profiles that will determine its particular benefit for example: It is the high number of Ketones in the Mint family that make mint energising, uplifting and invigorating. Monoterpene alcohols and Esters in Flowers exhibit toning and calming properties. Tree, herb and grass essential oils are rich in sesquiterpenes, esters, and oxides which are grounding, soothing, and renewing. Citrus oils are generally made up of limonene and beta – pinene, monoteroenes with strong uplifting characteristics whereas Phenols in Spice essential oils are recognised for their warming properties. When we smell Essential oils our body responds by releasing endorphins and the feel good neurotransmitter seratonin immediately making us feel better and thus being a great natural way to treat depression.
In a 2013 article, researchers at Xiamen University, China, commented: “Most studies, as well as clinically applied experience, have indicated that various essential oils, such as lavender, lemon and bergamot can help to relieve stress, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. Most notably, inhalation of essential oils can communicate signals to the olfactory system and stimulate the brain to exert neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin and dopamine) thereby further regulating mood.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23531112
The most effective way to have a positive effect on our emotions is Aromatically using a diffuser because unlike the old Oil Burners that heat Essential Oils these will not damage the chemical constituents of the oils. The next time your feeling exhausted try inhaling some Peppermint oil or if you are feeling unhappy and depressed try Lemon, Orange or Bergamot. If your feeling stressed or having difficulty sleeping try inhaling lavender and Vetiver. If you are needing a little more spice or passion in your life try diffusing some Cinnamon and remember it is only high quality therapeutic grade essential oils that will have an effect on our emotions not cheap synthetic essential oils - these will only give you a headache.