The power of Scent - How aromatherapy changes our emotional state in seconds

The power of Scent - How aromatherapy changes our emotional state in seconds

Have you ever noticed how a specific scent can bring up memories and emotions about an event that happened in your life a long time ago? 

Well… That’s the power of scent.

As a matter of fact, humans have used scent or aromatic oils for thousands of years. Ancient cultures in China, India, Egypt, and elsewhere incorporated aromatic plant components in resins, balms, and oils. These natural substances were used for medical and religious purposes.

So basically, the power of scent has been around for a very long time. 

How does scent or aromatherapy work in our emotional state?

Before we dive into this question, let's start with some basic concepts:

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the practice that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Sometimes it’s called essential oil therapy. Aromatherapy uses aromatic essential oils to help improve the health of the body, mind, and spirit. It enhances both physical and emotional health. It is thought of as both an art and a science.

What are Essential oils? 

Essential oils are basically plant extracts. They're made by steaming or pressing various parts of a plant (flowers, resin, bark, roots, leaves or fruit) to capture the compounds that not only produce fragrance but also the complex and versatile abilities that promote wellbeing

Now, to the pressing question…

How does scent affect our emotional state?

Everytime we smell a scent, whether it is in the middle of the street or directly from a bottle of essential oil, this scent goes through our nasal passages which is a direct pathway to the limbic system of the brain, this is where the body’s emotional responses are processed.

If we have a memory associated with a scent, then that scent will trigger the feelings, emotions and sensation connected with that memory. And if we don’t have memories associated with a specific scent, then the compounds in that scent activate the emotional and sensory responses related to those compounds. For example, citric oils have been described as being able to be uplifting, gently stimulating, and provide concentration. Or flower oils, for example, have been associated to activate feelings of compassion, love, caring and empathy within us.

The olfactory centers are also linked with the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that controls physiological functions throughout the body. The hypothalamus is influential by interacting directly with the pituitary gland, a small gland located in the brain. The brain communicates with the pituitary gland to secrete hormones involved in the regulation of stress, hunger, thyroid, sleep, libido, and memory. 

Because of the direct link between the olfactory system and the brain, the molecules in an essential oil are capable of interacting directly with the hypothalamus, influencing neurochemistry throughout the body thus impacting overall health and wellbeing.

I know it was a lot of information…. So here is a summary.

So basically, if you have a memory associated with a scent, that memory triggers the emotional (limbic system), physiological functions (hypothalamus) and secrete hormones (pituitary gland) connected with that memory. 

If you don’t have a memory associated with a scent, then the compounds of that scent trigger the process that I just explained related to the scent’s molecules. 

Scent can influence our emotional state.  

So here at LUNAM we have created aromatherapy products to help us throughout our 4 monthly archetypes.  

 

Other information:

  • Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils for therapeutic benefit. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries. When inhaled, the scent molecules in essential oils travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and especially impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain. Article

  • Humans have used aromatherapy for thousands of years. Ancient cultures in China, India, Egypt, and elsewhere incorporated aromatic plant components in resins, balms, and oils. These natural substances were used for medical and religious purposes. They were known to have both physical and psychological benefits. Article

  • When essential oils are inhaled, their aromas are first processed in the olfactory bulb, in the nose. The olfactory bulb is connected to the limbic system which influences memory and emotions. Aromas activate the amygdala which alters mood and emotions, good or bad. Article

  • Essential oils are natural, effective and safe aromatic compounds extracted and distilled from plants for health benefits. They contain hundreds of different compounds, providing complex and versatile abilities to combat threats without building up resistance. They work with the body to address issues and root causes on a cellular level and impact the overall vibrations on the system. Article

 

Related/Supportive Articles:

Johns Hopkins Medicine - Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work? - https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/aromatherapy-do-essential-oils-really-work#:~:text=What%20Is%20Aromatherapy%3F,emotional%20center%20of%20the%20brain.

Written by: Catalina Sardi

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