Ever think about that? How does our nose work, specifically with essential oils? How can smelling essential oils uplift my mood, or stimulate my mind, or why does it make me hungry. Have you ever tried to answer that question for your friends, staff or clients? Here's a quick primer for you. You can impress your friends now! 

Here is a snapshot of what happens when we inhale the aroma. 

  • As you inhale the odor molecules flow over the olfactory epithelium (small patch inside your nose) which contains millions of odor receptors that bind to the odor molecules.
  • Each aroma molecule you inhale has its own unique molecular shapes and electro magnetic frequencies - and bonds with specific receptors, much like a lock and key. (that's how we can tell a strawberry from lavender)
  • Once the limbic system has received the aroma - the limbic system activates the hypothalamus - which regulates autonomic physical responses like heart rate, hunger/thirst. 
  • The pituitary gland receives signals from the hypothalamus, producing a hormonal response to the chemical messenger. Basically, appropriate hormones are sent out to stimulate, regulate or balance - all depending on the molecules information.  

Here another example!

Consider the process of being awakened by the smell of smoke. You could be fast asleep and be awakened and in an instant, everything changes. Your limbic system has a stored "aroma-print" for smoke. This print says: Smoke = fire = danger = send adrenaline! All of sudden after your first whiff of the smell,  you are awash with stimulating stress hormones to get up and take action. Breaking that down again - an odor was detected - we responded accordingly with a bio chemical - a hormonal response that changed our thoughts and emotions - stress hormones were released. Yeah - your olfactory system saved the day! Thank you nose, the nose always knows! This is how aromatherapy works. We respond accordingly, to the aroma, based on its unique structure and frequency, initiating a change in our bio chemistry.

Like this? 

Here is a recap from our last Conference at Rutgers University from a workshop I attended.

How Odors Change the Brain, Expectations and Experience Affect Odor Perception – Implications for Aromatherapy, by John McGann, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Rutgers University. 

Whew! This is the go to person for olfactory research and how our brain interprets odors and SO much more!

Here some more fun facts about our olfactory systems. . . 

  • We have 390 smell receptor sites, vision is based on 3 receptors ( rods and cones), hmmm. Our smell sensitivity is EXCELLENT as compared to mouse, spider monkey, pigtail macaque, squirrel monkey, dog, vampire bat, fruit bat, hedgehog and rat!! (some trivia for you)
  • Your olfactory system is not static – it continues to learn.
  • Human odor discrimination is excellent, we can tell a trillion odors apart (Bushdid et al)
  • Loss of olfactory abilities has an unexpectedly large impact on human health, notably mental health. 
  • We saw “inside” the mouse brain, (they literally installed a window to observe) as compounds were inhaled and each odorant lit up specific spots in the brain. 
  • A particular odor may be made to evoke a particular emotion or mental state through experience. 

As any of you have learned from my classes – the best way to work with your oils and aroma is to set intention, feel the desired affect you are hoping to achieve, deeply relax into the aroma and create a scent memory that can be recalled each time you use the aroma to recall the desired response. 

Example – You are on my table in a session, relaxing hormones are released through you by way of aroma, music, warmth, "happy" hormones are actively soothing your mind and body.

By then taking that aroma home, you have an imprint of this experience. Have a few whiffs - and you can recall that same chemical bath of "relaxed" simply by inhaling the aroma again. 
Aroma-print! Relaxing or alerting! Both are magic! 

Well, we are pretty magical beings, aren't we?

Be well,
Jodi Baglien

About this article: This article was re-posted by Jodi Baglien, from her blog on http://www.jodibaglien.com/about-jodi, during her time as an educator on TrailheadHealth.com. We thank her for his participation and expertise. 

Jodi Baglien is bringing Aromatherapy into Healthcare. She is the first US Aromatherapist to provide the innovative Aromatherapy Inhalation Patch to hospitals, senior care facilities, and mental health providers. Jodi combines 16 years of experience as a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist, Educator, and Holistic Therapist. She delivers an evidence-based, compliant, and sustainable aromatherapy program to health care settings, both long and short-term. She has been training medical professionals on how to effectively use essential oils in order to provide non-pharmaceutical options to reduce stress, agitation, improve rest and reduce pain scores. Her programs have shown excellent results, with psychotropic medications in nursing homes, reducing by 35% on average. With a powerful mix of experience, compassion, and science-based research, Jodi offers a clear protocol within the best practices of professional aromatherapy. As a recognized wellness authority, she is dedicated to personalized consulting and wholehearted staff education.

To learn more about how Aromatherapy is making a difference in HealthCare institutions visit Jodi's page at http://www.jodibaglien.com/healthcare-programs/