Scents have incredible power and influence on our body and mind because of the way our brain processes olfactory data (sense of smell).
Touch, taste, visual and auditory sensations travel straight to the brain’s thalamus. The thalamus functions as a switchboard, forwarding the input to the proper sensory area of the cerebral cortex (the main processing area of your brain).
Smells follow a different neurological path. Before olfactory sensations reach the thalamus, they visit parts of the brain involved with emotion and memory. When the scent finally reaches the thalamus switchboard, it carries feeling and remembrance data with it. The emotions and memories attached to the scent influence our mood and behaviour.
Our own reaction to a specific smell is mostly learned. It depends greatly on the emotion experienced when the scent is first encountered. There are also gender and genetic factors involved in our smell responses. Women of all ages – even infants – score higher than men on smelling tests. As well as that, there can be up to a 30 percent structural variation in scent receptors between individuals.
Here are some essentials oils we suggest to use through the sense of smell and how they may aid you:
Anxiety relief: bergamot, clary sage, lavender, lemon, orange, pine, Roman chamomile, rose, rose geranium, sandalwood.
Depression relief: chamomile, jasmine, lavender, peppermint.
Stress relief: bergamot, lavender, lemon, peppermint, pine, vetiver, ylang ylang.
Fatigue relief: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, citrus, clove, jasmine, rosemary, tea tree
Insomnia relief: benzoin, chamomile, jasmine, lavender, neroli, rose, sandalwood, sweet marjoram, ylang ylang
Better focus: cinnamon, peppermint, rosemary
Not only are scents powered by memory and emotion, scientists have found that breathing in certain essential oils stimulates or calms our sympathetic nervous system as well. Clearly aromatherapy can, along with other therapeutic and healthy lifestyle choices, benefit our well-being.
Try one of our essential oil synergies
Learn more about Aromatherapy, get our Aromatherapy guide for beginners