How Essential Oils and Aromatherapy works.

Essential oils
Essential oils

In order to understand how aromatherapy works, you should first understand as to what is aromatherapy. The word “Aromatherapy” is derived from these two words. “Aroma” means smell and “Therapy” means methods of treatment of ailments. So the treatment of ailments by making use of the sense of smell is known as aromatherapy.

There are various plants and herbs which have medicinal qualities. It has been documented in various ancient Oriental and Indian scriptures that plants and herbs have great medicinal qualities. The oils extracted from the plants have the capacity to cure a whole lot of physical as well as mental disorders. Though this type of treatment used to be prevalent in ancient times, modern medicine has pushed these age-old therapies into the background. Today aromatherapy is used as an alternative form of medicine.

How does Aromatherapy work on the body system?

Essential oils are extracted from medicinal plants and herbs and these oils are used in aromatherapy in three principal ways to treat ailments.

Essential Oils method of inhalation
Essential Oils method of inhalation

By the method of inhalation:

This method of treatment works by stimulating the following systems of the body.

  1. The limbic system involving the brain.
  2. Olfactory System making use of the olfactory nerves in the nasal system
  3. Nervous system by transmitting the aroma to the limbic system
  4. The respiratory system involving all the respiratory organs

This is supposed to be the fastest way the treatment works. As the name suggests, this method of treatment involves inhalation of the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils. When you inhale the aromatic oils, the molecules of the oils are transmitted to the brain by the olfactory nerves. This stimulates the limbic system of the brain into action. The limbic system is that part of the brain which controls the heart rate, blood pressure, and other stress levels. It also has control over the hormonal balance. This limbic system, when stimulated by the aroma of the medicinal oils, has a positive effect on the organs controlled by it. This improves the heart rate and controls the blood pressure of the body. Hence inhaling these Aromatic oils or Essential Oils have the capacity to enhance the moods and the general state of mind. The methods by which you can inhale these oils are by the following three methods.

  1. Directly by using tissues: Here the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils are directly inhaled by soaking a tissue paper in the oil.
  2. By using a vaporizing system: The Aromatic oils or Essential Oils are added to boiling water and the resultant fumes are inhaled using a vaporizer.
  3. By adding the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils to your bath water: These oils can be added to your bath water and used for bathing.
  4. By the method of the application over the body:
Essential Oils topical application
Essential Oils topical application

By the method of the application over the body:

This method involves topical application of the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils on the body and if needed massage them in so that the skin would be able to directly absorb the medicinal oils into the bloodstream. This method of topical application makes use of the following body systems.

  1. Integumentary system by absorption through the skin nails as well as hair into the circulatory system.
  2. Endocrine system by directly transmitting the medicinal effects to the affected part of the body
  3. Circulatory system by making use of the blood vessels to transport the medicinal effects of the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils.
  4. Lymphatic system by making use of the lymph nodes and the circulating lymph to get rid of the toxins in the body
  5. Musculoskeletal system by directly stimulating the muscles and bones through massages.

Consider the situation where you have a physical injury. During such times, just inhaling the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils will not have an effect. The oils have to be directly absorbed into the skin by using a topical compress. These aromatic oils are not greasy and hence they can be directly absorbed into the body by the skin, hair follicles as well as the sweat glands. This will result in the oil being absorbed by the body fluids thereby getting the body rid of the harmful bacteria and viruses.

By using the circulatory system of the body the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils can be transported by absorption into the blood vessels which can help the body to rid itself of the toxins. One point to be noted is that these aromatic oils are very concentrated in nature and hence they have to be diluted with other oils known as carrier oils.

In case of muscular injuries, the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils can be directly massaged into the body which then gets transmitted into the muscles by the musculoskeletal system of the body.

Essential Oils Oral
Essential Oils Oral

By the oral method:

In the ancient scriptures, it is mentioned that this system is very rarely used. However, there are some Aromatic oils or Essential Oils that can be taken orally such as tea tree oil, olive oil or oil of peppermint.

This envisages the use of the following systems of the body

  1. Digestive system
  2. Genital-urinary system
  3. Reproductive system

Usually, the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils are not directly consumed. They are added to other food materials and consumed along with them. Through the digestive system, the oils get to reach the areas of the body such as the Genital-urinary and the reproductive system in a much easier way.

One thing is common in all the above methods of treatment and that is the Aromatic oils or Essential Oils can be used for improving the immune system of the human body. However, there are certain precautions to be taken which are as follows.

  1. Aromatic oils or Essential Oils could be concentrated. Hence dilution is very necessary for effective treatment.
  2. It is very important that these oils be kept away from the eyes. In case of contact with the eyes, it is suggested that the eyes should be washed with lots of water and medical help should be sought immediately.
  3. It is absolutely essential to keep these Aromatic oils or Essential Oils away from children as they can get attracted to the aroma and might taste them.
  4. It is always suggested that these oils should be used under medical supervision.
  5. Care should be taken in the sense that these Aromatic oils or Essential Oils should not be ingested directly.

This is an effective form of treatment that can be considered as an alternative method to modern medicine.