Understanding the Effects of Smell
To fully understand Aromatherapy and the effects of Essential Oils, you must understand two basic physiological processes: how the olfactory apparatus works and how Essential Oils are absorbed into the body. Here I will touch on the effects of Smell and Essential Oils. "Humans produce a characteristic odor in the air around them that reflects their diet and/or health, their age, their sex, occupation, and race. It can be argued that because of the physiology of the olfactory apparatus, the most direct and profound impression we can have for another person is his(or her) smell. Indeed, smell bypasses the thalamus in the brain and penetrates directly to the organs oldest part, the Rhinencephalon, known to the Greeks as the "olfactory brain" where it produces, willy-nilly, pleasure or repugnance." - Annick LeGuerer
Smell is one of our most direct means of communication with nature. We smell with every breath we take, constantly engaging with the world around us. Just eight molecules of a substance can trigger an electrical impulse in nerve endings, roughly forty nerve endings must be stimulated to become conscious. The scent is not only biologically the oldest but also the most evocative of all our senses. It goes deeper than conscious thought or organized memory, the smell has a will of its own which human imagination is compelled to obey.
Odors are the effect of very tiny molecules that are rushed through the nostrils as we inhale. There are three stages in the process of smelling: Reception, Odor Transmission, and Perception. Odor molecules travel inside the nose, where they are received and dissolved in the mucous within a membrane called the Olfactory Epithelium (receptor cells that contain some twenty million nerve endings). Odor transmission occurs when a signal is fired between right and left Olfactory Bulbs. At this point, a variety of cells and neurons interpret, amplify and transmit the message to the limbic system (Hypothalamus, Proust's hippocampus, Olfactory Cortex, and Amygdala). Perception occurs when the message is received by the Hypothalamus. The Hypothalamus acts as a relay station, sending information to other parts of the brain, such as the pituitary gland. All this occurs in less than a second! New evidence suggests the Hypothalamus may exercise direct control over the health of the body and diseases.
Smell is the only sense with receptor nerve endings in direct contact with the outside world, providing a direct channel, as it were, to the brain. The "blood-brain barrier" is a lipid-rich (oil rich) membrane that sheaths and protects the brain. No one actually knows how the Olfactory receptors react. Their response could be related to the scent molecules shape, size or electrical charge, or a combination of all. Luca Turin PhD, former University of London lecturer, believes that smell receptors are tuned to different vibrational frequencies (energy). This would mean, a molecule of odor would have a certain correct vibrational frequency that binds to a smell receptor, which throws the switch and allows the flow of electrons. This signal is then amplified and sent to the brain for interpretation. We do not smell with our noses, but our brains. We shouldn't be surprised that Aromatherapy can have a direct impact on our physical and mental states.Current researchers suggest it may be possible to jump start the body's own immune response with Aromatherapy. Just think, the moment you smell a Super Budder, you are trigging a chemical and electrical reaction to heal your body. Health care can be simple.
Oil Me North
Aromatherapy - A complete guide to the healing art Second Edition - Kathi Keville and Mindy Green