Origin: a Latin derivative
meaning "Gift of the Earth."
Dr. David K. Hill D.C. - Founding Executive, Chief Medical Officer / Chairman, Scientific Advisory Committee
One of the most well-studied areas of aroma research is the effect of smell on emotions and mood. For example, there is convincing evidence demonstrating that simply inhaling the aroma of an essential oil is effective for calming nervous or anxious feelings in a variety of settings. The smell receptors located on the upper surface of the nasal cavity make direct links with the limbic system of the brain, an area that governs the body’s emotional responses. This close connection between aroma and emotion becomes obvious in our everyday life as certain odors trigger memories or specific feelings. Some aromas directly impact mood (for example calming, balancing, or invigorating), while others trigger memories of a specific experience, often one tied to a strong emotion.
Intriguing new research has also helped us recognize that the benefits of aroma extend far beyond just emotional regulation. In addition to influencing the limbic region of the brain, olfactory centers are also intricately linked with the hypothalamus, an area of the brain more familiarly nicknamed the “visceral control center” because it controls physiologic functions throughout the body. The hypothalamus exerts its powerful influence by interacting directly with the pituitary gland, or “master gland,” a small gland located in the brain. The pituitary gland secretes hormones involved in the regulation of blood pressure, hunger and thirst signals, thyroid function, sleep cycles, production of sexual hormones, and memory, among other things. Because of the direct link of the olfactory system to this area of the brain, aroma is capable of interacting directly with the hypothalamus, influencing neurochemistry throughout the body, and, in turn, potentiating powerful health outcomes.
There are many acceptable ways to use essential oils for their aromatic properties. One method is to diffuse the oil into the air. Not only does diffusion make the oil accessible to the body, but research indicates that there are also air purification benefits when diffusing oils. When diffusing oils, use of cold air or hydrodiffusion is best because burning or heating essential oils can alter their delicate chemistry. If a diffuser is not available, simply dropping essential oils into the palm of the hand and then cupping around the nose and breathing deeply is a convenient method for using essential oils at any time, in any situation. Although there are many ways that essential oils can be applied, throughout my experience as a physician, I have found that repeated daily exposure to the aroma of essential oils provides unique and significant support to healthy function of the body and mind.
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