aromatherapy courses Serene Aromatherapy
             Contact: Sharron
             Certified Aromatherapist

Aromatherapy Courses available Become a Certified Aromatherapist


and the
Olfactory System

Aromatherapy works through two main channels, the olfactory system and through topical absorption (through the skin pores).

Let us begin by looking at the olfaction response first. Our nasal cavities have thousands of olfactory nerve cells that carry scent directly to the Olfactory bulb which is located at the back of our nose. It has nerve endings that send messages directly to the brain.

This is why when you walk down the soap aisle at the supermarket or pass the perfume counter in the department store you may get a headache right between your eyes.

Our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than any other sense and recognition of smell is immediate.

Other senses like touch and taste must travel through the body via neurons and the spinal cord before reaching the brain whereas the olfactory response is immediate, extending directly to the brain.

This is the only place where our central nervous system is directly exposed to the environment. That is why inhalation directly affects the central nervous system.

The Olfaction response by passes the Neo-cortex or conscious brain and goes directly to the limbic system.

Smell is the strongest link to the subconscious and we retain memories associated with smells for very long periods of time.

It is said that our bodies can process between 10,000-100,000 different smells and remember them. That's a lot of memory retention.

Our sense of smell can be described as a lock and key. The first time we smell something, that sets the lock in our subconscious mind and the next time we smell that same aroma it is like a key that unlocks the memories of when we first smelled it.

This is why smelling fresh gingerbread, for example, can remind you of Christmas baking with mom, etc. How many times have you smelled something and remarked, "Do you know what that reminds me of?"

As mentioned earlier, the olfactory nerves are directly connected to the limbic system which houses all or our sensory experiences such as memories, emotions, sex drive, hunger, pleasure, instincts etc., It is the center of all of our emotions and therefore affects our emotional behavior.

The limbic system is involved in determining when the hypothalamus stimulates the endocrine glands and autonomic nervous system. The hypothalamus governs the pituitary gland which controls the release of hormones throughout the body and exerts decisive control over the autonomic and endocrine systems.

The autonomic system contains nerves leading to the body's glands and organs. It is referred to as the involuntary system because it controls activities that are usually thought to act independently of our choice such as heart rate, body temperature, stress levels, respiratory and digestive functions. These are all influenced by the hypothalamus .

The autonomic system reacts automatically to the different stressors whether they be mental, or physical and initiates a complex series of neurophysiological and biochemical changes within the body. These are known as neurochemicals or neurotransmitters which communicate with different organs of the body and bring about chemical changes.

For instance mood enhancers like serotonin , endorphins and enkephalin are all hormones that are released by the hypothalamus's affect on the pituitary gland.

The hypothalamus and the endocrine systems play a critical role in the development of psychosomatic illness. More than half of the patients that walk into a doctor's office have diseases of a psychosomatic nature.

Does this mean it is all in their head, that it is not real? By no means, what it does mean is that their minds are affecting the way their bodies are reacting.

Doctors are realizing more and more that we cannot separate man into separate compartments. Man is a holistic being comprised of body, soul, and spirit and when one of these areas are out of balance the whole man suffers.

This is why Aromatherapy works. It brings balance to mind, body and spirit which in turn brings harmony to the whole person.

Now that we have looked at how the mind affects the body let us look at the second channel through which aromatherapy works, through application to the body. This is known as the physiological effects of aromatherapy.

As mentioned earlier, Essential Oils are minute molecules and are therefore easily absorbed through application to the skin. This is known as transdermal absorption. Essential Oils do not dissolve in water but dissolve in fat therefore they eagerly attach themselves to the natural body fats and fluids in our body and gain access to the lymphatic and blood systems through the connective and lymphatic tissues.

Here they can affect physical changes usually in about 10-20 minutes, and indirectly stimulate or sedate the immune system and other various body systems.

Unlike other treatments which are taken internally, aromatherapy works more effectively because it has direct access to the various body systems and does not have to pass through the stomach where gastric juices could deter its effectiveness.

In fact, internal digestion is NOT RECOMMENDED and generally not used in aromatherapy as some Essential Oils can be TOXIC IF TAKEN INTERNALLY.

 If you have any questions regarding aromatherapy or our site? We will be glad to answer your questions via email: Send your email to Sharon

Copyright © 2004
All Rights Reserved.

Aromatherapy Courses Here

Aromatherapy Associates Resources

Our Other Sites

Our Aromatherapy Course Blog
Power Motivation
Essential Lavender Blog
Be sure to visit my eBay store