What are the benefits of essential oils?
Ancient Roman gladiators knew the healing power of lavender – they rubbed tinctures of this purple, wonderfully fragrant plant on their wounds to get fighting fit as quickly as possible! Modern medicine has since proven lavender’s ability to promote skin healing in a very significant way. Indeed, the current essential oils boom reportedly stems from French chemist-perfumer Gattefosse's experiments after suffering a bad burn.
Many other essential oils have healing properties as well. For example, grapefruit is known to help with water retention, while thyme has been proven to have powerful antimicrobial effects. The list is long and the research is ongoing. Read on about the benefits here.
Ever found yourself wandering into an organic supermarket, lured in by the lingering aroma of freshly baked bread? Then you’ve experienced the power that fragrance holds on the human brain. What about the smell of a pine forest after the rain, that fresh scent that immediately transfers you to childhood summers spent at your grandparents’ house? These are examples of how scents impact our mind and ye, again there's a scientific explanation...
When we come to close proximity of something that has a scent, the olfactory bulb of the nose can immediately detect the tiny volatile compounds. The olfactory bulb is a particularly powerful messenger because it's directly linked to the limbic brain, the part of our cognitive system that’s in charge of our emotions and memories.
A whiff of anything – be it freshly baked bread or the perfume of a passerby – will therefore bypass the conscious part of the brain entirely to quickly find its way into the brain’s emotional core. It will also reach the hippocampus, which is in charge of organising our memories.
But is there something more at play than memories? Do some scents have a universal power to affect our emotional state in a certain way? The answer appears to be YES. Many essential oils are being studied for their ability to calm the mind, for example. One example are the sesquiterpenes found in cedarewood, or the linalool in bergamot and lavender.
These tiny, naturally incurring chemicals are a part of a plant’s survival system. Whether to attract pollinators or to deter predators, the fragrance molecules have an important role to play in a plant’s life and luckily for us, it appears that humans get to benefit as well.
How to use?
So, how to reap the many benefits of essential oils...? Read on