We just covered topical use of essential oils and inhalation. When you smell the aroma of essential oils, (inhalation) the scent molecules travel up the nasal passage until it reaches the olfactory bulb where it travels directly to the limbic system at the center of the brain. There, the molecules release their unique neurochemicals and cause a reaction, depending on which oil is used. Lavender brings about a sense of relaxation while peppermint perks you up. The brain knows which reaction should occur and obliges according to the essential oil.
Memory is a factor in certain parts of the limbic system. Two large limbic system structures, the amygdala and hippocampus play important roles in memory. This is why a smell will often bring back a memory. Some people will smell something and immediately think of their grandmother’s house. Another scent might remind you of a vacation you took twenty years ago. It is amazing how quickly scent can trigger a memory that we thought was long forgotten.
As the molecules travel further, they interact with the lungs and respiratory system and may take different paths towards other parts of the body. Most people do not realize that a smell enters and interacts with the body. They think of smell as only happening in the room around them, a sort of “air decoration”, if you will.
When applied topically (directly onto the body) essential oils are easily absorbed into your system, but more slowly than through inhalation. The use of a carrier oil to dilute the essential oils actually helps to deliver the oils across the surface of the skin, allowing them to cover a larger area than if they were applied neat (straight, no dilution).
Some people debate that the skin is a powerful barrier meant to keep out foreign substances and have stated doubt as to whether the essential oils go any further than the first few layers of skin. Yet, if this were true, the ole garlic-on-the-foot trick should not work. Peel garlic and mash is through a garlic press or chop finely, then rub it on the bottom of your foot. Within about fifteen minutes, you will actually be able to taste the garlic in your mouth. It absolutely works and, keeping this experiment in mind, it certainly sounds as if essential oils can make it through.
Another reason for topical use is to reach a specific area. For a sore muscle, it would be much better to add a little sweet marjoram and cypress to olive oil and rub it directly into the muscles versus breathing in the aroma. A drop of tea tree oil between the toes of someone with athlete’s foot would certainly be more effective than taking a sniff from the bottle.
When using essential oils for aromatherapy, the method in which you use them depends entirely on the physical condition or state of mind you are trying to overcome.
•For a stomachache blend 2 drops of peppermint in teaspoon of carrier oil and massage on abdomen
•When stressed, place one drop of lavender oil on your index finger, rub your two index fingers together, and then massage your temples.
•Long study night and need to pass a test? Rub a little basil and clove on your pencil. The scent and your handling of the pencil will improve concentration and memory retention.
•Too many mosquitoes in the yard? Lemon Eucalyptus and Citronella blended in a little alcohol and water makes and excellent natural insect repellent spray. (Shake before each use).
•For grief, place a few drops of geranium oil on a handkerchief and take it with you to a funeral.
•To relieve the pain of a simple toothache when you can’t get to the dentist, use one drop of clove oil on your fingertip and massage the gum around the offending tooth.