Essential oils are known to have a positive impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing. In order to benefit from the oils in a safe manner, it is crucial to know how to use them correctly. In my practice, I regularly see damages on the skin as the oils are either applied undiluted on the skin, in the wrong dose (usually not diluted enough) or the wrong oils are applied on an already damaged skin.
Just because essential oils are natural doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be careful with them. As a matter of fact, they are highly concentrated plant extracts that want to be respected. Rose for instance is one of the most expensive essential oils, which is understandable if we consider that it takes 100kg (!) of rose petals to extract 20-30g of pure rose oil.
A convenient, fast, and, in general, relatively safe way to use essential oils is through inhalation either by diffusing the oils or using a room spray. If you have young children some common oils such as peppermint are however tabu.
The human nose is only made to smell a scent for 20 seconds, after which we notice a smell much less until it almost disappears by about 3 minutes. This is a trick by Mother Nature to protect ourselves from unpleasant odours. This also means that you don’t need to constantly have essential oils in the air. The contrary, if we smell on a bottle or spray some essential oils in the air, we actually have each time a fresh stimulation on our limbic system, which is the part in the brain in charge of feeling emotions.
Scents also have an impact on our hypothalamus (the part in the brain which regulates breathing, blood circulation, body temperature, and sexual behaviour) as well as the hippocampus which is part of the limbic system and plays a key part in our ability to have memory. Therefore, a certain scent can trigger emotions associated with an event of the past.
Our nose acts similarly to a chimney to transport the scent molecules to our olfactory epithelium, the cells in the nasal cavity which are the actual centre of our ability to smell. 350 receptors are the reason why humans can smell about one trillion (!) different types of smells, not just 10,000 as previously estimated in 1926. The scent of a rose, for instance, is composed of 500 different components.
Even the small intestine, our skin, and sperm have receptors to smell. In the womb, babies are able to smell from week 28 of the pregnancy and learn their mother’s preference for scents. Newborns find the way to their mother’s breast through the smell of breastmilk.
The above shows us why essential oils can be so valuable to us – provided they are of a certain quality. If they are stored correctly and used in the right way, high-quality, organic essential oil are rather unlikely to cause allergic reactions. Very often allergies are caused by cheap, synthetic oils, which don’t have much in common with the original plant, other than the name on a product. Many children grow up with the smell of artificial vanilla and might even feel disappointed when smelling the scent of real vanilla.
In a study done in Germany, it was found that smelling scents can have a larger effect on training one’s memory than training the brain with sudokus. The participants of the study who were smelling scents instead of doing sudokus also felt 6 years younger on average.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is one of the most well-researched essential oils. Its properties can mostly be described as relaxing and may help with stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. Quality and origin do have an impact on its price and therapeutic benefits. China, for instance, has become an important producer of lavender and its essential oil. Whether you are buying oil from China, the Balkan region in Europe or Southern France is up to you, the consumer.
Natural, high-quality essential oils have different effects on us. Typical uplifting essential oils are for instance orange, red mandarin, rose, lavender, vanilla, and rose geranium. Most of them you will find in Panakaya products such as “Sweet Dreams”, “Sage’s Mist” or “Mosquito repellent”.
Now you have the scientific reason why smelling Panakaya products can make you feel happier! Needless to say, Panakaya is sourcing from reliable producers mainly in Germany, most of which are organic.
If you would like to learn more about how to safely use essential oils, check out our upcoming workshop: “Basics in Aromatherapy – Learn how to safely use essential oils like a naturopath”.
1 July 2020
Herr Prof. Dr. Frank Zufall/ Molekulare Medizin Medizinische Fakultät der Universität des Saarlandes; URL:http://physiology.uni-saarland.de/Zufall/Zufall_Research.html [4.3.2014]