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Aromatherapy Makes Scents

How does the aroma of freshly baked cookies make you feel?

Our sense of smell is the the most primitive of the senses.  The olfactory nerve is the shortest nerve pathway in the body running from our nasal cavity directly to the center in the brain where emotions are interpreted.  Thus aromas have a powerful impact on our emotional and physical health.  Different scents can either stimulate hunger or suppress hunger, for example.

Aromatherapy is the purposeful application of essential oils for therapeutic impact.  They are applied to maintain or improve existing health and to promote optimal well-being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Essential Oils are fluid extracts from plants. These fluids move through the plant's circulatory system carrying nutrients in and waste products away, just as blood functions in the human body. They not only determine the plant’s aroma, but are vital for plants to grow, live, evolve, and adapt. Essential oils also help defend plants from insects, environmental conditions, and disease. Since essential oils are composed of the tiniest of organic molecules they pass easily through cell walls and membranes delivering therapeutic benefits, not only to the plants that create them, but to people as well.

According to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese manuscripts, essential oils were used thousands of years ago to heal the sick.  Today approximately 300 essential oils are distilled or extracted, with several thousand chemical constituents and aromatic molecules identified.  The quantity, quality, and type of these aromatic compounds vary depending on climate, temperature, soil quality and distillation factors.  Because essential oils are composites of hundreds of different chemicals, they can exert many different effects on the body.  For example, lavender oil has been used for burns, insect bites, headaches, PMS, insomnia, stress, and hair growth.

Essential oils do not disturb the body’s natural balance; if one constituent exerts too strong an influence, another constituent may block or counteract it.  Synthetic, man-made chemicals, in contrast, usually have only one primary effect and often disrupt the body’s balance causing “side effects”.

In the human body, essential oils stimulate the secretion of and mimic the actions of antibodies, neurotransmitters, endorphins, hormones, and enzymes.  European scientists have studied the ability of essential oils to work as natural chelators, binding with heavy metals and petrochemicals in the body tissues and carrying them out of the body.

Three main qualities of essential oil are produced.  Food quality oils, used for flavoring by the food industry, are considered safe for human consumption.  The production process does not preserve many of the therapeutic chemical qualities of the oil, however.  Cosmetic quality oils are used in perfumes, creams and lotions.  These aromatic oils, due to the manufacturing process, lose most of the chemical constituents that provide therapeutic impact.  Therapeutic quality oils, by virtue of their manufacturing process, retain most of the chemical structure that provides therapeutic impact in the body.  It is estimated that less than 5% of all essential oils processed in the world today are therapeutic quality.