“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years that you have lived.” – Helen Keller
Our sense of smell is the most underrated yet mesmerisingly potent of our five human senses. Nothing evokes emotions and conjures up memories like the redolence of a familiar scent. The top, middle and base notes used in perfumery are most often comprised of various essential oils, which are highly concentrated volatile aromatic compounds of plants and their components. A single drop of essential oil can contain as much as 40 million trillion molecules!
When inhaled, these countless molecules travel through the nasal cavities and stimulate the nerve receptors of the olfactory bulb located on the underside of the frontal lobe of our brains. In the process sparking the secretion of feel good hormones and neurotransmitters with the likes of dopamine and oxytocin, as well as the production of endogenous opiates in the form of endorphins into the body. An intoxicating whiff of premium quality essential oil can give us a mild adrenal rush of ecstatic pleasure and serotonin boost akin to that obtained from exercising and having sex.
Unfortunately in our modern day and age, there are many nauseous synthetic fragrances, undesirable petrochemicals and harmful substances such as triclosan, sodium laurel sulphate, formaldehyde, and parabens that are commonly found in all our commercial over-the-counter toiletries, perfumes and cosmetics. These man-made industrial chemicals are highly toxic and carcinogenic, and can cause a long list of health issues such as cancers, strokes, infertility and birth defects.
Aromatherapy is the ancient medicinal science of utilising the pure essence and extracts of plant components to bring about healing, rejuvenation and well-being. Beneficial hydrocarbons and oxygenated compounds such as sesquiterpenes, monoterpenes, aldehydes, phenols, ketones, and esthers are found in the natural chemistry of essential oils. These organic chemical constituents are responsible for the anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-parasitical, and anti-oxidant properties that provide essential oils with their multitude of pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications. Topical usage and safe oral ingestion of 100% certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils support a healthy endocrine glandular system and can repair various health concerns. Essential oils also assist in an increased rate of mitochondria metabolism, which results in greater vitality and energy.
Essential oils are nature’s first aid kit and truly a gift from the Earth. Let us explore some of the world’s most versatile and useful essential oils. Frankincense was one of the gifts that the three wise men gave to the Christ child when he was born. In fact, “incense” was actually first derived from the word “frankincense”. Commonly referred to as the “king of essential oils”, frankincense comes from the resin of various genus species of the boswelia tree, and is a powerful anti-oxidant and natural cellular regenerator. Frankincense is great for anti-ageing and for anointment during sacred ritualistic practices. If in doubt of what essential oil to apply, you simply cannot go wrong by using Frankincense.
Peppermint is a refreshing pick-me-up especially in our sweltering, tropical heat and can be used for a variety of everyday ailments such as headaches, tummy aches, nausea, indigestion, fever, pain, etc. Lemongrass detoxifies the system, uplifts moods, refreshes the senses, adds flavour to dishes, and is ideal for massage therapy and lymphatic drainage. Lavender has calming and sedative properties, and can be used for relaxation, insomnia, cuts, minor burns, wrinkle reduction, and other skin conditions. However, do be careful when using lavender and tea tree oils on children as studies have shown that excessive usage of these oils boosts oestrogen and inhibits testosterone, resulting in some boys developing ‘male breasts’.
Most store-bought essential oils are suitable for topical use or with an essential oil diffuser. However, consumption is only suitable when the essential oil is 100% pure and at therapeutic grade. It should not contain any carrier oils such as olive oil. Do read your labels carefully and use them as and when needed.
Contributed by Luke Elijah, Spiritual Coach
Photo credits: Pixabay and Vitagoods