The human nose is sensitive enough to detect fragrance diluted to one molecule per ten thousand billion air molecules. Even aromas too subtle to be noticed by the human nose have been shown to affect physical and mental functions of the body.
So, its no surprise that studies show that the quickest way to affect mood and behavior is with the sense of smell. Aromas provide the best memory cues because the most emotionally charged and oldest memories are linked to smells.
Essential oils are highly effective remedies because they are composed of tiny molecules that are able to seep through the skin and into the blood and through cell walls. These oils contain a variety of healing substances including hormones, vitamins and antibiotics.
In aromatherapy, the essential oil molecules diffuse into the air and are smelled, inhaled, ingested or absorbed by the body. Here they act like a messenger to the brain, where they affect the limbic system. The limbic system is a ‘switchboard’ that is directly linked to brain centers that control blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, hormone levels and the nervous system. This helps cause physical, emotional and mental changes in the body.
Different essential oils contain varying medicinal properties and affect different ailments. For example, oils of lavender, lemon, bergamot, thyme, chamomile, pine and sandalwood stimulate the production of infection-fighting white cells in the blood. Others, such as citrus and pine, have valuable antiviral components due to the terpenoid compounds they contain.
One group of essential oils has a calming, tranquil effect imparting a feeling of well-being; another is stimulating and energizing for heightened mental capacity. Recent studies have shown that aromatherapy can be used to improve the mood and increase the awareness of Alzheimer patients and other patients with memory problems.