Essential oils stimulates
the powerful sense of smell. It is known that odors we smell have a
significant impact on how we feel. In dealing with patients who have lost
the sense of smell, doctors have found that a life without fragrance can
lead to high incidence of psychiatric problems such as anxiety and
depression. We have the capability to distinguish 10,000 different smells.
It is believed that smells enter through cilia (the fine hairs lining the
nose) to the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls our moods,
emotions, memory and learning.
Studies with brain
wave frequency has shown that smelling lavender increases alpha waves in the
back of the head, which are associated with relaxation. Fragrance of Jasmine
increases beta waves in the front of the head, which are associated with a
more alert state.
have also shown that essential oils contain chemical components that can
exert specific effects on the mind and body. Their chemistry is complex, but
generally includes alcohols, esters, ketones, aldehydes, and terpenes.
particularly effective for stress, anxiety and psychosomatic induced
problems, muscular and rheumatic pains, digestive disorders and women's
problems, such as PMS, menopausal complaints and postnatal depression. Here
is a summary of the results from clinical studies:
exists that fragrant compounds and aromatherapy have a profound effect on
our mind and behavior. Animal studies have found that hyperexcited mice (as
a result of consuming a large quantity of caffeine) was calmed by the aroma
of lavender, sandalwood, and other oils sprayed into their cages. The same
mice were found to become very irritable when exposed to the aroma of orange
terpines, thymol, and some other substances. These oils were all detected in
their bloodstream after about an hour.
In a study reported in
the British Medical Journal Lancet, elderly patients slept "like babies"
when a lavender aroma was wafted into their bedrooms at night. These
patients had complained of difficulty falling asleep and had to take
sleeping pills to get sleep prior to the aromatherapy.
It has been well
established that chicken soup is good for cold (both historically and
scientifically). Studies were conducted to find out whether the effect was
due to the action of the hot steam on the lining of the nostrils or whether
the aroma of the chicken soup has anything to do with it. The results
indicated that chicken soup was more effective than the steam indicating the
effectiveness of the aroma.
In a study conducted
at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York, patients undergoing
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reported 63 percent less claustrophobic
after getting exposed to the aroma of vanilla. There was no change in their
heart rate. Obviously, the aroma reduced their anxiety probably by the
pleasant memories evoked by the vanilla aroma or by some other physiological
In another study, 122
patients who were in an intensive care unit, reported feeling much better
when aromatherapy was administered with the oil of lavender (compared to
when they were simply given a massage or allowed to rest.) No changes in the
patients who were given aromatherapy was observed in the blood pressure,
respiration, or heart rate.