The Medical Science Behind Aromatherapy
When any scent is inhaled, the odor molecules travel up the nose where they are trapped by olfactory membranes that are protected by the lining inside the nose. Each odor molecule fits like a little puzzle piece into specific receptor cell sites that line a membrane, known as the olfactory epithelium. When stimulated by odor molecules, this lining of nerve cells triggers electrical impulses to the olfactory bulb in the brain. The olfactory bulb then transmits the impulses to the gustatory center (where the sensation of taste is perceived), the amygdala (where emotional memories are stored), and other parts of the limbic system of the brain.
Because the limbic system is directly connected to the parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure,
breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance, therapeutic-grade essential oils can have profound physiological and psychological effects. The sense of smell is the only one of the five senses directly linked to the limbic lobe of the brain, our emotional control center.
Scent stimulates nerves to fire in the emotional center of the brain, but it also stimulates the master gland to release hormones. Hormones affect the fight or flight response, as well as digestion and heart rate. In this way, essential oils can affect us in many ways all at once, just through their fragrance.
Anxiety, depression, fear, anger, and joy all emanate from this region. The scent of a special fragrance can evoke memories and emotions before we are even consciously aware of it. When smells are concerned, we react first and think later. All other senses (touch, taste, hearing, and sight) are routed through the thalamus, which acts as the switchboard for the brain, passing stimuli onto the cerebral cortex (the conscious thought center) and other parts of the brain.
The limbic lobe (a group of brain structures that includes the hippocampus and amygdala located below the cerebral cortex) can also directly activate the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is one of the most important parts of the brain, acting as our hormonal control center. It releases chemical messengers that can affect everything from sex drive to energy levels.
The production of growth hormones, sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and neurotransmitters such as serotonin, are all governed by the hypothalamus. Thus, the hypothalamus is referred to as the “master gland.” Essential oils–through their fragrance and unique molecular structure–can directly stimulate the limbic lobe and the hypothalamus.
Simplicity: Aroma therapy for our clients
Aromatherapy is the use of essential plant oils to promote wellness. It is a mind-body intervention that enhances the mind's capacity to affect bodily functions and symptoms. Aromatherapy is recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
On Time Pediatrics utilizes Simplicity. This is our own line of aromatherapy products created not only by Certified Aromatherapists but by medical professionals as well. This collaboration creates a product not only with a dedicated aroma/scent but one created based on medical evidence and research.
True aromatherapy should not be confused with the addition of synthetic scents to a multitude of health and beauty aids. Although these products are often labeled "aromatherapy," the aesthetic application of odors is different from the clinical use of essential oils. Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy - one that is used in conjunction with other forms of healing, not in place of it. It can be administered by health care providers, as well as self-administered by patients.