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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Edinger, LMT, CHt

Why Are We So Tied to Aroma?

Updated: Mar 13

Why are we so tied to aroma? Aroma travels straight to an area of our brains called our limbic system, the most ancient part of our brain, and the most responsive to feelings, memories, learned responses, and emotions. When aromatic messages reach this part of the brain they are processed quickly and instinctively. Think about it - smell may indicate danger, such as smoke, or conversely, safety, such as food being cooked.


The word “aromatherapy” might conjure images of sweet-smelling oils, a bubble bath or candles made with synthetic scents, but, while these products might smell nice, they don’t necessarily contain true healing oils. Authentic aromatherapy uses therapeutic plant extracts, distilled from plant parts (usually with steam) and contains the concentrated true essence of the plant from which it was derived. Not really “oils,” the highly concentrated plant essences carry a variety of health benefits.

These benefits are experienced when the chemical composition of essential oils is delivered through the nose (inhalation) or through the skin.

When inhaled, the aromatic molecules float up the nasal cavity to nerve-rich patches which sets off a reaction resulting in brain activity. The aroma messages communicate with parts of the brain that store emotions and memories and influence not only our mental and emotional health, but also our nervous, endocrine and immune systems.

Through massage the tiny molecules of essential oils are absorbed by the skin and enter the blood and lymph circulation where their active components have pharmacological effects, such as pain relief. When essential oils are applied locally they have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, fungicidal, healing and regenerating properties


Stress reduction - In a study by the National Institutes of Health, participants who used aromatherapy had reduced stress levels during stressful situations compared to participants who were not using aromatherapy. Other studies showed reduced stress levels in cancer patients who had undergone aromatherapy treatment. Relaxing and anxiety-reducing scents include lavender, vanilla, chamomile, frankincense and patchouli.

Lessening of Depression - A study from 2000 to 2008 found that aromatherapy, especially having citrus aromas, boosts the state of mind and decreases depression. Vibrant citrus aromas such as orange, lime and lemon have uplifting tendencies and are good choices to reduce depression.

Pain management – One of the great benefits of aromatherapy is that it can relieve pain. For example, essential oils of Lavender, Clary Sage, Marjoram, and many others are analgesic (pain-killing) and have anti-inflammatory effects. For muscle aches and headaches Holy Basil, Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Rosemary all work well.

Improvement of blood pressure – This is a pretty remarkable benefit of aromatherapy. Researches have shown that combined oils of Bergamot, Lavender and Ylang-ylang assisted in lowering blood pressure, pulse tension levels, and anxiety levels!

Respiratory healing - Inhalation of vapor blended with essential oils (for example eucalyptus or pine) has also beneficial results for respiratory problems.

Mental clarity - Studies performed in educational settings showed that Rosemary, Peppermint, and Juniper improve concentration and memory, while Lavender, Ylang-ylang, and Petitgrain are known to reduce anxiety and stress.

If you would like to experience the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of aromatherapy

yourself, please make sure you see a trained practitioner and educate yourself as well before using aromatherapy. In my practice, I use high quality therapeutic grade essential oils, and am trained in their safe use. Always included in your healing session is the optional use of aroma-therapeutic essential oils, as well as other healing modalities such as cupping therapy, tuning forks, energy balancing, stone therapy and more.

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