Aromatherapy

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Aromatherapy has been a natural method of medicine from the earth since the dawn of time.

Our inner working of smell begin after a baby is born. We all learn about touch & sound before smell.

Pair bonding deepens when a baby experiences the mothers scent.

Spices and oils from so many sources  are available as  sensory treatment ; plants,flowers and tea create vast flavors which stir our feeling body with up lifting magic.

The information below is an older source but clearly explains how smell effects us all.

Fragrance Alters Mood and Brain Chemistry.
(Health Risks and Environmental Issues)

Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients; 4/1/2004; William, Rose Marie

Fragrance materials are added to give products a scent, to mask odors of other ingredients, and in some cases to alter mood. Fragrance materials may be synthetic, natural, or a combination of both. Using scented products causes exposure to skin, upper airways, and olfactory pathways to the brain and lungs. These are all entry points to the body, causing systemic exposure as well. Fragrance inhalation through the nose goes directly to the brain where its neurological effects can alter blood pressure, pulse and mood, as well as having sedative effects.

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Volatile Compounds

Fragrances are volatile compounds that linger in the air adding to indoor air pollution and contribute to poor indoor air quality. Fragrance formulations often contain high concentrations of potent and long lasting synthetic chemicals for which very little data exists regarding their health and safety. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges that poor air quality contributes to a host of physical and neurological problems including headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and forgetfulness. Eighty to 90% of fragrance chemicals are synthesized from petroleum products and are designed to disperse quickly into the air where they can linger on fabrics and surfaces for months.

Fragrance is Everywhere

Fragrance chemicals are unavoidable. They are included in every personal care product, cosmetic, detergent, soap, fabric softener, pesticide, candle, car and room air-freshener.  Hotels and motels routinely spray with fragrance or use plug-in devices to disperse a scent. Most modern facilities have windows that do not open, preventing fresh air from entering. When making room reservations this writer has begun requesting that no spray be used. Providing fragrance-free guest rooms has not yet caught on in the hospitality trade. When more consumers ask for “fragrance-free” rooms they may become more available, similar to the demand for tobacco-free rooms.

Perfumes

Perfumes contain neuro toxins  which have a causal link to central nervous system disorders, headaches, confusion, dizziness, short-term memory loss, anxiety, depression, disorientation, and mood swings. To avoid second hand exposure among a growing population of sensitive individuals, some high schools, workplaces, and public buildings have enacted policies banning the use of perfumes.

Bach Flower Remedies

Prior to humans being exposed to modern synthetic petroleum derived fragrance products, and the ensuing problems associated with such exposure, fragrances derived from flowers and plants were used for millennia to soothe and heal. Historically, herbal medicine has been used for the purposes of “clearing, consoling, quieting, uplifting, and settling the mind and the emotions.” Through his work in homeopathy during the early 1900s, Edward Bach, MD, developed a specialized branch of herbal medicine using only the flowers, which are the highly potent seed-bearing part of a plant. Dr. Bach did not offer any scientific explanation of how the flower remedies worked, and in fact, was wary of the trends in scientific theories. He believed it was necessary to first improve a patient’s emotional state in order to bring about physical well being, and by careful observation he developed what is now commonly referred to as the Bach Flower Remedies.

Aromas Influence Body and Mind

The fragrance of essential oils are claimed to enhance everything from emotional state to lifespan. Throughout history aromatic oils have been used for their power to influence emotions and states of mind. This is the basis for which oils have been used for centuries as incense for religious and ritualistic purposes.

Upon inhalation of a fragrance, the odor molecules travel up the nose where they are captured by the olfactory membrane. Each odor molecule fits into specific receptor cell lining the olfactory epithelium. There are hundreds of millions of nerve cells and they are each replaced every 28 days. Odor molecules stimulate the lining of nerve cells which trigger electrical impulses to the olfactory bulb, which then transmits impulses to the gustatory center (where the sensation of taste is perceived), the amygdala (where emotional memories are stored), and other parts of the limbic system of the brain. Essential oils can have some very profound physiological and psychological effects because the limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, stress levels, hormone balance, and memory.

Of the five senses, only our sense of smell is linked directly to the limbic lobe of the brain, our emotional control center. Fear, anxiety, depression, anger, and joy all emanate from this region of the brain. A particular scent or fragrance can evoke memories and emotions before we are even consciously aware of them. Our senses of touch, taste, hearing, and sight, are all routed through the thalamus, which serves as a switchboard for the brain, passing stimuli onto the cerebral cortex and to other parts of the brain.

The limbic lobe, which encompasses a group of brain structures including the hippocampus, can also directly activate the hypothalamus, one of the most important parts of the brain, which serves as our hormonal control center. The hypothalamus is responsible for the production of growth hormones, sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and neurotransmitters such as serotonin. The hypothalamus has earned the designation of “master gland” due to its many important functions.

The limbic lobe and hypothalamus can be directly stimulated through the fragrance and unique molecular structure of essential oils, which can exert a profound effect on the body and mind. Inhalation of essential oils can be used to reduce stress and emotional trauma, and to stimulate the production of hormones from the hypothalamus that can result in increased thyroid hormone responsible for our energy levels, among other things, and growth hormone known as the youth and longevity hormone.

Upon inhaling a particular scent, the odor travels through the nose to the limbic section of the brain that controls stress levels, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Fragrance chemicals easily alter the brain’s neuro-chemistry. Dr. Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment Center and Research Foundation in Chicago believes smells can change a mood state faster than anything else. Through the ages we have accumulated much information about the positive effects of essential oils on mood and general well being. Unfortunately, we know very little about the effects of synthetic fragrance on the brain.

In the 1970s, however, there was a classic case of synthetic fragrance causing widespread health problems. The chemical, AETT (acetylethyltetramethyletetralin) was included in numerous personal care products. A series of animal studies showed it to cause significant brain and spinal cord damage, but the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) refused to ban the chemical. After years of allowing its distribution in consumer products, the cosmetic industry finally withdrew it.

Essential Oils

Essential oils are components of hundreds of different chemicals that can exert many different effects on the body. This completely prevents pure essential oils from disrupting the body’s natural balance or homeostasis. If one constituent exerts too strong an effect, another constituent may block or counteract it, thereby preserving homeostasis. Synthetic chemicals, on the other hand, usually have only one action, which often disrupts the body’s natural homeostasis.

Brain Oxygen

Researchers at the Universities of Vienna and Berlin found that sesquiterpenes in the essential oils of sandalwood and frankincense can increase levels of oxygen in the brain as much as 28 percent. An increase in brain oxygen can improve the level of activity in the hypothalamus and limbic systems of the brain, dramatically affecting emotions, learning, and attitude. Increased oxygen in the brain also improves the immune system, hormone balance, and energy levels. In addition to sandalwood and frankincense, high levels ofsesquiterpenes are found in melissa, myrrh, and clove oils.

Weight Loss

Essential oils are capable of stimulating the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that regulates our feeling of satiety, or fullness after a meal. In a clinical study conducted by Alan Hirsch, MD, at the Smell and Taste Treatment Center and Research Foundation, essential oils were used to reduce appetite and bring about dramatic results in weight loss involving more than 3,000 participants over a six-month period. The essential oil of peppermint was used on a group of patients previously unsuccessful in any weight loss program. The average weight loss exceeded five pounds each month, and was reported in the Annals of Clinical and Laboratory Science, Vol. 14, Sept/Oct No. 5.

Lavender and Libido

Appetite is not the only thing that essential oils have been successful in stimulating. A second double blind randomized study by Dr. Hirsch documents the ability of certain aromas to enhance libido. The study included 31 males who were exposed to 30 different essential oil aromas. The scents that produced the most excitement in the study, and among the subjects, were a combination of lavender and pumpkin.

Therapeutic Standards

Essential oils are the volatile liquids distilled from plant components including flowers, fruits, seeds, leaves, bark, stems, and roots. The purity of an oil is determined by its chemical constituents which can be affected by any number of variables such as, which part of the plant was used for extracting the oil, geographical region, altitude, climate, soil, growing conditions, harvest method and season, and distillation process.

Approximately 200 types of oils are distilled from which several thousand chemical constituents and aromatic molecules have been identified and registered. The perfume and cosmetic industry uses 98% of the extracted oils. The remaining two percent is used for therapeutic and medicinal applications.

Therapeutic grade essential oils require the preservation of as many of the delicate aromatic compounds as possible. High temperature and pressure, plus contact with chemically reactive metals, such as copper or aluminum, can easily destroy the fragile aromatic chemicals in the volatile liquids. All therapeutic grade and medicinal essential oils should be distilled only in stainless steel cooking chambers at low pressure and low temperature. Agri-chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can react with the essential oils during distillation to produce toxic compounds.

Essential oils are among the oldest medicines used by humankind and are beginning to enjoy a renaissance among holistic health consumers. But not everything sold as “essential” oils are pure therapeutic grade products. Most distillation procedures are designed for maximum profit and may use solvents, high temperatures, high pressure, or reactive metal equipment. The main constituents and fragrances of some oils are synthetically produced. They should not be used for therapeutic applications, and may even carry risks. Only the purest quality essential oils should be used for therapeutic purposes. Adulterated or inferior oils may not produce the desired therapeutic results and could possibly be toxic.

Europe has developed a set of standards to evaluate an essential oil based on the chemical profile and principal constituents necessary for a high quality product. These guidelines, known as AFNOR and ISO standards help consumers differentiate between a therapeutic grade essential oil and an inferior product with a similar chemical makeup and fragrance. AFNOR stands for Association French Normalization Organization Regulation. ISO refers to the International Standards Organization, which has adopted AFNOR standards. A product may be Grade A, and of high quality, but if some constituents are too high or too low, it cannot be AFNOR or ISO certified. Two companies in the US have made serious efforts to comply with the European testing standards. They are Flora Research and Young Living Essential Oils.

 

Essential Oils Comparison Chart

This aromatherapy chart allows you to look up essential oil properties, emotional/mental/physical influence, methods of use and cautions. Organized alphabetically.

 

Emotional/Mental
Physical
warming, stimulating, anti-inflammatory
clear thinking, faith, compassion, calms nerves
headaches, sinus, asthma, bronchitis
diffuse, bath, massage
avoid in pregnancy; can irritate skin
fresh, spicy, refreshing
confidence, insight, courage
lymph congestion, sprains and bruises, colds & coughs
diffuse, massage
avoid in pregnancy; use moderately; can be a narcotic
cooling, uplifting, euphoric
optimism, spontaneity, calms nervous tensions
urinary infections, herpes, shingles
diffuse, bath, massage
phototoxic – avoid exposure to sun for 3 hrs. after bath or massage
warming, harmonizing, meditative
strength, endurance, use for anger
coughs, bronchitis, bladder and kindey infections, oily skin and hair
diffuse, bath, massage, topical
avoid in pregnancy
sweet & warm, soothing, calming
calm, acceptance; use for stress, irritability
muscle spasms, eczema, arthritis, colic, PMS
diffuse, bath, massage, topical
euphoric, clearing, regulating, increases estrogen
clarity, groundedness; use for fear, depression
asthma, muscular stiffness, cramps
diffuse, bath, massage
avoid in pregnancy
astringent, refreshing
gives stability, renewal; use for loss, anger
hemorrhoids, varicose veins, bladder infections
diffuse, bath, massage
avoid in pregnancy
refreshing, stimulating
dispels melancholy, promotes optimism
asthma, bronchitis, coughs
diffuse, massage
do not use with infants
refershing, stimulating
dispels melancholy, promotes optimism
colds, congestion, coughs
diffuse, massage
safe for children
refreshing, stimulating
dispels melancholy, promotes optimism
insect repellent
diffuse, massage
warming, refreshing
grounding, promotes intuition, use for anxiety, stress, creative blocks
muscle and rheumatic pain, asthma, coughs
diffuse, bath, massage
refreshing, fortifying
good self image, energy; use for guilt, helplessness
asthma, bronchitis, flu, cystitis, hepatitis, prostate
diffuse, massage
could be skin irritant
warm, tranquil, revitalizing
promotes meditation, prayer; use for agitation
scars, wounds, wrinkles, asthma, colds, flu, stress
diffuse, bath, massage
light, sensual, balancing
promotes security, intimacy; use for workaholism, discontent
hormone balancing, diuretic, adrenal conditions
diffuse, bath, massage
could cause contact dermatitis
refreshing, cooling, reviving
lightness of spirit; use for self-criticism
cellulite, oily skin, obesity, water retention
diffuse, bath, massage
euphoric, calming, uplifting, aphrodisiac
harmony, delight, creativity; use for fear, apathy
hormone balance, uterine, tonic, sensitive skin
diffuse, bath, massage
warming, invigorating, clearing
empowerment; use for worry, gloom, fear of failure
cystitis, bronchitis, arteriosclerosis, obesity, oily skin
diffuse, bath, massage
avoid in pregnancy, kidney disease
calming, cooling, balancing
calm, composure; use for emotional overload, tension, panic
headaches, insomnia, acne, bruises, burns, asthma, flu, colic
diffuse, bath, massage, topical
refreshing, purifying
trust, clarity, concentration, use for confusion, indecision, fatigue
antiseptic, blood puifier, rheumatism, gout, liver cleanser
diffuse, bath, massage
photosensitizing; do not use on skin before exposure to sun
stimulating, reviving, tonic
good for jet lag; small amounts are calming and clearing
antiseptic, analgesic, tonic to nervous system
diffuse, massage
could be a skin irritant
soothing, uplifting
happiness, calm; use for anxiety, insomnia, stress
detoxifying, regulating to lymphatic system, water retention
diffuse, bath, massage
phototoxic – do not use on skin before sun exposure
dry, meditative, warm, calming
clarifying, grounding; use for sorrow, worry
thrush, athlete’s foot, ringworm, cracked skin, mouth ulcers
diffuse, bath, massage
avoid in pregnancy
cooling, clearing, sedative
comfort, strength, release
muscle spasms, diarrhea, heart palpitations, dry skin
diffuse, bath, massage
cheerful, warming, uplifting
ease, optimism, happiness; use for irritability
constipation, obesity, water retention, gas, chills
diffuse, bath, massage
fresh, stimulating, regulating
clear thinking, concentration; use for mental fatigue
indigestion, sinus congestion, headaches, gall bladder, nausea
diffuse, topical
could be sensitizing
joyous, cooling, soothing
opens the heart, love, trust; use for anger, fear, anxiety
sensitive skin, herpes, nausea, poor circulation, palpitations
diffuse, bath, massage
do not use during first 3 months of pregnancy
fresh, reviving
mental clarity, good memory; use for poor memory
low blood pressure, poor circulation, colds, sinus
diffuse, bath, massage
avoid in pregnancy, epilepsy, high blood pressure
sweet, warm, balancing
calm, uplifting; use for fatigue, worry, frigidity
acne, dermatitis, scars, dry sensitive inflamed skin
diffuse, bath, massage
purifying, penetrating, warming
strong memory, inward focus; use for nervous debility, insomnia
throat & mouth infections, jaundice, asthma, coughs, headaches
diffuse
avoid in pregnancy
uplifting, opening, meditative
courage, energy, drive; use for worry, attachment
chapped skin, sore throat, cystitis, dry coughs, colic, gastritis
diffuse, bath, massage, topical
antibiotic, calming
strength, morale; use for tension, stress
acne, athlete’s foot, chicken pox, fungus, burns
diffuse, topical
could be sensitizing
hot, dry, stimulating
courage, energy, drive; use for poor self-confidence, fear
lung infections, fatigue, chills, colds, flu, asthma, bronchitis
diffuse, massage
high blood pressure; could be sensitizing
warm, earthy, tranquil
grounding, centering; use for oversensitivity
PMS, menopause, hormone balancing, anemia, malabsorption
diffuse, bath, massage
sensual, heady
joy, sensuality; use for agitation, fear withdrawal, anxiety
hypertension, palpitations, epilepsy, diabetes, acne, oily skin
diffuse, bath, massage

 

Synthetic Chemicals Impair Essential Oils

Essential oils are very diverse in their effects and can perform several different functions. They are described as chemically heterogenetic. Synthetic chemicals are quite the opposite having basically just one action. Our pervasive exposure to perfumes and petroleum based synthetic chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products may interfere with some individuals’ ability to fully benefit from using essential oils, and may even cause allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.

When considering daily use of essential oils for health improvement it is strongly advised to avoid personal care products containing ammonium or hydrocarbon-based chemicals. Found in a variety of hand creams, mouthwashes, antiperspirants, after-shave lotions, and hair products, these chemicals include quarternarium 1-29 and polyquarternarium 1-14. Commonly used benzalkonium chloride can be fatal if ingested. These chemicals can be toxic in small concentrations and may possibly react with essential oils creating by-products of unknown toxicity.