The Science of Aroma and Touch


Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS

The AromaTouch Technique® is a combination of two of the most powerful senses, used in conjunction to establish one simple way to give those you care for an individual essential oil experience. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it isn’t profound. Whether it’s offering a hand technique to a new acquaintance or a full AromaTouch Technique to a close friend, the olfactory and sensory stimulation induced by volatile aromatic compounds and human touch is a scientifically-validated means to developing a strong connection with someone and positively influencing their well-being.

Aroma

Aroma is an important component of the AromaTouch Technique because it instantaneously prompts powerful emotional, physiological, and biochemical responses. As research has exhibited, activating your olfactory system can direct your mind to specific memories, relax you, positively influence the function of different body systems, and help create a close connection with whomever you are sharing the experience with.

Have you ever wondered how walking through an orange grove can immediately induce powerful memories of your childhood? Or how the faint aroma of cinnamon can remind you of mom’s Sunday-morning cinnamon rolls, even 30 years later? It is basic human biology. There is a direct connection between your nose and your brain’s emotional control center, the limbic system. This is because the olfactory bulb is the only neural structure in the forebrain that takes input to the amygdala yet does not receive reciprocal projections. In other words, information from your nose goes directly to the limbic system, which controls mood, memory, and emotions. Your body also contains far more receptors associated with smell (over 1,000) than it does for any other sense. Due to this, you are capable of discerning countless aromas—many of which you may not even be able to describe—with amazing sensitivity and accuracy. Human biology has made the olfactory system the most subtle yet effective means to induce specific and distinct responses. This is one of the primary reasons why essential oils can be so powerful in influencing well-being.

Touch

The AromaTouch Technique is all about creating an emotional connection, and the science behind that connection is as validated as it is compelling. Tactile communication is our first form of communication. We begin receiving tactile signals in the womb, and then touch plays a critical role in parent-child relationships before verbal communication is possible. It is, in essence, the first sense we acquire and it is astonishingly effective. In recent studies, researchers have shown that emotional communication is very effective through touch, nearly as effective as words and facial cues1. Not only is touch able to communicate the tone of emotion (whether it is positive or negative, intense or subtle), but it may allow for precise differentiation between types of emotion. With voice and facial cues, we can identify just one or two positive signals that are not confused with each other. Research has exhibited that touch can communicate multiple emotions—love, gratitude, sympathy, fear, anger—and with astounding exactness. This effect isn’t just limited to loved ones; another study found that touch communicates emotion nearly as effectively when it occurs between strangers2. Furthermore, there is also evidence that touch increases the speed of this communication3. While our understanding of the mechanisms involved with touch and emotional messaging is still limited, we do know that it can be more effective than even verbal communication in strengthening existing bonds and developing new ones.

Along with the emotional component, gentle touch can also influence physiological responses in ways other communication simply cannot. Unlike massage, which involves powerful hand movements that are focused on specific outcomes (breakdown of muscular adhesions, stimulating the central nervous system, aiding recovery, etc.), the gentleness of an AromaTouch Technique has a much different spectrum of benefits. Tender touch almost instantaneously activates the release of oxytocin (often referred to as the “love” or “hug” hormone), decreases heart rate and blood pressure, and has a beneficial influence on multiple other stress-sensitive systems4. Furthermore, the person initiating the contact generally experiences the same response as the person on the receiving end. Unlike a massage, the benefits of giving an Aromatouch Technique to someone can be just as powerful as receiving one.

The AromaTouch Technique is a scientific approach to combining smell, tactile communication, and the power of CPTG® essential oils to improve well-being. Visit https://www.doterra.com/US/en/aromatouch-technique-trainers to learn more or to find a training event near you, and start developing stronger and healthier connections.
 

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