How Does Aromatherapy Really Work?


 


        Aromatheray (as it may sound) involves the inhalation of various smells, or aromas. These
aromas are held in the essential oils. What actually happens when one inhales various
aromas is actually more complex than one may think.
         The brain registers aroma twice as fast as it does pain. This is why the inhalation of
aromas can so powerfully transform ones emotions. Smell is the only sense that bypasses
the blood-barrier to the central nervous system. Through the olfactory system, essential oil
molecules have direct access to the limbic area of the brain (the center of emotions and
memory) (http://abaromas.com/info.htm).
         Olfaction, or the sense of smell, involves the detection and perception of odors [or
aromas]. Olfactory nerve cells are stimulated by odors which take the form of chemicals.
These chemicals (or odors) enter the nose and get dissolved in a membrane called the
olfactory epithelium and connect by nerve pathways to areas in the brain. The receptors of
the Olfactory system are hair cells connected to the olfactory epithelium. These hair cells
called cilia, have an axon which projects to the olfactory bulb.  The signal is passed down
from the cilia in the nasal passage to mitral cells in the olfactory bulb. The olfactory bulb
leads straight into the olfactory tract. The olfactory tract (cranial nerve I) transmits the
signals to areas  of the brain such as the olfactory cortex, hippocampus, amygdala,
pyriform cortex, and  hypothalamus.  ( http://ucsu.colorado.edu/~coopern/smell.htm). It is
here in the brain where the emotions are controlled. Therefore various aromas are thought
to be associated with ones emotions.
 
 



Back to Aromatherapy and Stress Reduction Page


 

 

Psychology Department

The Health Psychology Home Page is produced and maintained by David Schlundt, PhD.
  


Vanderbilt Homepage | Introduction to Vanderbilt | Admissions | Colleges & Schools | Research Centers | News & Media Information | People at Vanderbilt | Libraries | Administrative Departments | Medical 

  Return to the Health Psychology Home Page
  Send E-mail comments or questions to Dr. Schlundt

Search

Search: Vanderbilt University
the Internet

  Help  Advanced

Tip: You can refine your last query by searching only the results by clicking on the tab above the search box

Having Trouble Reading this Page?  Download Microsoft Internet Explorer.