History and Science of Aroma


History

Aromatherapy (the use of essential oils and plant extracts) has been a subject of interest for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Indians used essential oils for rituals and religious practices, recognizing the oils’ ability to influence human feelings. Even with this rich history of aromatherapy, the term wasn’t officially coined until the 20th century, and it took many years for the scientific community to recognize the emotional benefits of aromatherapy. After substantial research in the 1990s, biologists began to more fully understand how chemical sensors in the body respond to the effects of scent. This research has opened many minds to a concept that ancient civilizations discovered long ago: aromatherapy can have a remarkable effect on human emotion and mood.

Science of Aroma

Essential Oils and Chemical Responses

Because of the complexities of the human brain, certain aromas can elicit emotions by triggering memories and stimulating emotional responses. This concept, known as the “Proust Phenomenon”, suggests that although we all have different memories and experiences, everyone has the ability to experience a distinct response when inhaling aromas. This internal response acts as an “aromatic pathway” that connects the aroma to different areas of the brain, thus triggering an emotional response. When we inhale a distinct aroma, the scent is processed through the brain’s olfactory system, the sensory system responsible for controlling our sense of smell. The olfactory system is connected to the limbic system, an area of the brain where memories and emotions are stored. At this point, the limbic system produces a distinct response to the aroma based on memories that are associated with the particular smell—creating a rush of feelings that follow. Essential oils can produce responses that can be used to enhance well-being and manage emotions.

The Scientific Makeup of the doTERRA Emotional Aromatherapy™ System

Because different essential oils can cause different emotional and chemical responses, the design of the doTERRA Emotional Aromatherapy System is based on chemistry. Each essential oil blend in the system is made up of basic chemicals that are categorized into different classifications. In aromatherapy, different classifications are used to create desired emotional responses. Each product in the doTERRA Emotional Aromatherapy System has been designed to achieve a unique chemical profile. In most cases, essential oils can be classified as having either uplifting or calming effects. Using distinct essential oil groups, the doTERRA Emotional Aromatherapy System relies on specific plant categories to elicit emotional responses based on the chemical components included in each essential oil.

Calming

Essential oils in the floral category are typically composed of monoterpene alcohols, which hold calming properties. Tree, herb, and grass oils are known to promote grounding, soothing emotions and feelings of renewal, as they primarily include sesquiterpenes, esters, and oxides.

Uplifting

With a high concentration of ketones, mint essential oils are commonly known to be energizing and uplifting. Citrus oils typically possess significant uplifting characteristics, with chemical components like limonene, beta-pinene, and monoterpenes. Many spice essential oils are known for their warming properties, which come from phenols.

An Individualized Experience

While we all experience definite responses to the aroma of essential oils, distinct triggers and memories make our responses extremely personalized. Based on the unique chemical profile of each essential oil, we know that each oil will stimulate a specific emotional response. However, because no two people are the same, each individual can receive distinct benefits for their own well-being. Our reactions to aromas are based on environmental indicators, past experiences, personal preference, and even our unique genetic makeup. Because of these individual factors, not every user will have the same psychological reaction to the same oil.

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