Now Playing: "I Love the Flower Girl," by the Cowsills
The sense of smell is our most powerful sense—about 10,000 times more powerful than the other senses, according to some estimates--and is developed in us even before we are born.
Aromatherapy is NOT the same as a synthetically fragranced air freshener designed to cover up smells! True aromatherapy is based on the theory that odorific, volatile constituents of plant substances are carried to various centers of the brain through scent, where they work to encourage various responses by direct stimulation, thereby influencing our physical and emotional health.
There is a close association between the olfactory system and the limbic system. The limbic system is the more primitive part of the brain. It is linked to emotion, memory, sex drive and intuition. The limbic system also controls heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and stress levels. The hypothalmus is a part of the limbic system.
The hypothalmus controls the pituitary gland, which is the master gland of the entire endocrine system. Metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproductive processes and moods are all regulated by the hormones produced by the endocrine system.
Suffice it to say that there are many affects that these substances can have on the mind and the body, and it is for reasons such as these that aromatherapy makes such good scents! (Sorry! I couldn't resist! Hahaha!)
Aromatherapy has a very long history of medicinal use scanning thousands of years, and they are Aromatherapy has been going on for as long as there have been smells in the world. Take a walk out in nature and see how many fragrances you can detect in the air. Flowers, herbs, fruits, saps and needles--so many fabulous smells!
Imagine how nice it would be if all the aromas were natural scents. That's how it used to be, and there's a reason for each and every one of the smells, or else they wouldn't be there.
Frankly, I find synthetic fragrances to be quite assaultive. I don't like them at all. I don't wear synthetic perfumes, and I don't walk down the chemical isle in the grocery store. In fact, they can be quite harmful to us.
Chemicals used in perfumes, cosmetics, and so many things with artificial fragrances, have been shown to cause a myriad of symptoms and damage, including respiratory problems and hormonal disruptions. Interesting…some of the very things that aromatherapy has shown to be good for. Hmmmm...I think I prefer the real thing! When you tamper with nature, side effects are what you get.
You will find, when you study nature, that things are always the way they are for a reason. A plant’s aroma, for instance, is very important (essential) to the plant itself. Thus the name “essential” oils. A plant's aroma sends signals to the plant for it’s own healing, reproduction, to repel insects, etc. It has many purposes, especially for aromatic plants.
Aromatherapy happens every time we are exposed to natural smells. You know that good feeling you get when something smells reeeeeeeeeal good in the kitchen? Well, that's aromatherapy, too! Citrus fruits, cinnamon, cloves, peppermint, vanilla...They all have the effect of acting upon our brain when the aroma's inhaled, just like flowers and pine trees can do.
Kitchen smells can affect how we feel through memory and emotion, and they also affect how our bodies actually function. Interestingly enough, many of the scents that arise from the kitchen act as digestive aids.
Unfortunately, we can't always take a walk in the woods or bake cinnamon bread, although it would be nice if we could! Essential oils are what we use in aromatherapy practice to make it more simple to be able to use fragrances in a clinical way. Essential oils extracted from plants through a process of distillation.
We'll discuss essential oils in more depth in the near future. Today I just wanted to introduce you to the concept of aromatherapy, and have you start thinking of ways it occurs naturally!
Have a really fabulous day, and don't forget to smell the roses along the way, okay?!
Mary Jo Eshelman, ND, CTN, CNHP
The information presented is the author's personal and professional opinion, and is intended for educational purposes only. Nothing printed here is designed to take the place of a physician's advice. If you are experiencing problems with your health, it is recommended that you consult with a licensed health care professional. All Natural HealthWorks! is not responsible for any damages or ill-effects resulting from the information presented herein, nor do we make any recommendations regarding your health. We are simply here as a resource for you in making your own choices for your health yourself.