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How do Essential Oils Work?

Essential oils can be inhaled or applied topically, after that, they’ll do their magic.

But how do essential oils work?

Have you ever inhaled something and the scent immediately brings you back in time?

The scent of Yu Yee oil (Malaysians would know this!) reminds me of my arwah Mummy because she used the oil a lot when she was in pain before she passed away. Yes, I wished I had gotten to know about essential oils at the time, but that’s not the point, hehe.

MashaAllah, the olfactory system/sense is so amazing, just a simple sniff of something can immediately make you feel things & can also affect other systems in our bodies.

I know some of you are craving for some science behind this, so here goes…

When we inhale a scent, the odour molecules travel up our nose or mouth and travel to the lungs. These molecules also interact with the olfactory organs which transmits impulses to our amygdala. The amygdala is where our emotional memories are stored. In addition, these molecules also and to other parts of the limbic system of the brain. This is the system which controls heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance in our bodies.

essential oils work

But how about when they are applied topically?

Similarly, when we apply the oils topically, the molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream through our pores and hair follicles and bind with receptors. Receptors are protein molecules that have binding sites on them for different types of molecules. When an external molecule finds a binding site it fits in, it communicates with our brain through electrical signals. These signals can go to our muscles, organs, or—in the case of our olfactory receptors—the amygdala, which is involved in the emotions we experience. Phew, how’s that for being sciencey?

You’ll find a whopping 100 million or more receptors packed into an area about 2.5 square centimeters dedicated to the olfactory sense, MashaAllah! It’s no surprise these oils can stir our emotions or memories.

Click to read my previous post on Essential Oils 101 if you haven’t done so!

What’s a scent that reminds you about your childhood?


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