Basic Introduction Aromatherapy Course – Lesson Five
How Aromatherapy Works!

Essential oils are the subtle, aromatic, and volatile liquids extracted through distillation from a single botanical source (flowers, seeds, leaves, stems, bark, and roots of herbs, bushes, shrubs and trees), the part of the plant yielding the maximum amount of essential oil. (View of Steam Distiller)

Essential oils represent the essence of a plant.

As such they are highly concentrated, a drop or two can produce significant results.

These precious plant distillates are act to protect it from bacterial and viral infections, cleansing breaks in its tissue and delivering oxygen and nutrients to its cells.

There are many cheap chemical copies of essential oils available, but these are not recommended for therapeutic use. To achieve truly remarkable results for one’s health and well-being essential oils must be absolutely pure and unadulterated.

Synthetic derivatives although much less expensive will never give you the desired results for therapeutic benefit and may even create adverse side effects. To insure quality please always choose only oils that are GC/MS tested for purity and guaranteed to be 100% pure.

What is Aromatherapy? Aromatherapy means to treat with aroma through inhalation. The true practice of aromatherapy is a wedding of both science and art in the use of pure plant essential oils to enhance one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being and health.

It is well known that aroma reaches and influences the deepest human instincts.

When essential oils are diffused and inhaled, aromatherapy not only delivers the calming benefits of fragrance, it also delivers the many health benefits unique to essential oils.

The use of aromatic plants and herbs is the oldest form of healing disease and pain, and the medicinal properties of plants have been recorded in the oldest writings in history, in myth, and folklore. According to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese manuscripts, priests and physicians were using essential oils thousands of years before Christ to heal the sick.

In ancient times essential oils were considered more valuable than gold. There are numerous references to oils in the Bible, yet only now is science beginning to investigate the incredible healing substances found in essential oils.

Virtually everything used today in modern drugs can be traced back to a botanical extract. Hippocrates said that there is a remedy for everything to be found in Nature.

Essential oils penetrate. The penetrating characteristic of essential oils greatly enhances their ability to be effective. Essential oils will penetrate into the body when applied to the skin. They will even penetrate a finger, or toe nail to treat fungus underneath.

Essential oils are highly aromatic and therefore, many of the benefits can be obtained simply by directly inhaling their aromatic scent. This can be done by dispensing 2-3 drops of oil onto a cotton ball, smell strip or tissue and inhaling for 30-60 seconds.

You can also make a vial of Celtic salts, add 1-3 drops of pure essential, cap the vial of salts and shake for one minute before inhaling the aroma. Celtic smelling salts is not only a wonderful way to use essential for direct inhalation, but also extends the shelf life and aromatic benefits of more expensive oils like Rose and Melissa.

Be sure to to cap your vial of smelling salts tightly and keep them in a cool, dark place away from light and air and they will last you a good long while.

The elements of heat, light, air and moisture are what activate the release of scent from an essential oil.

One of the most fascinating facts about your sense of smell is that the power of scent communicate with your brain for immediate results. Your logical brain is not involved in the process of smell at all. You actually feel aromatic scents.

For instance inhalation of Lavender oil triggers the release of Serotonin from the raphe nucleus in the brain and produces a calming effect. Unless of course there is a learned odor response to that scent. In other words you have a ‘bad’ memory, or negative association with the scent of Lavender which triggers a negative reaction to the scent of Lavender.

You can actually learn a conditioned response to Lavender if it is strongly associated with a negative memory. For instance if you had a caretaker who was abusive who wore a Lavender scent, or conversely you had a caretaker who showed unconditional love and support you might develop a conditioned neuro-response which would either block or enhance Lavender oil’s action to trigger a release of neuro-chemicals and their absorption by neuro-receptors in your body.

The molecules of Emotion are powerful chemical messengers and can easily block our natural response mechanism to an aroma!

Your conditioned or learned response mechanism to scent explains WHY single oils and aromatic formulations known to have certain properties and actions aren’t effective for everyone.

This learned response to an aroma explains why a synthetic fragrance or perfume oil can trigger positive, good feelings in your body, mind and emotions. These good feelings are due to your learned association with the oil rather than from any chemical properties present in the oil.

Although you may enjoy the scent of adulterated and synthetic fragrance or perfume oils it’s been shown that synthetic (petroleum based) oils may in fact cause allergies, headaches and chemical sensitivities. This is something to keep in mind when choosing your aromatic scents.


Here are the rudimentary basics for how essential oils work in both your nervous and hormonal systems and your circulatory system.

The Neuro-chemical delivery pathways for your Nervous and Hormonal systems. Please refer to the chart for Electro-chemical effect of Aromatherapy.

CLICK TO VIEW Chart for Electro-chemical effects of Aromatherapy

The Vapors from the essential oils enter through your nose and immediately stimulate your Olfactory nerves which then signal your Limbic system (the control mechanism in your brain for emotions and memory).

Hippocampus (control center for Memory, Learning and Emotions) are stimulated.

Hypothalamus gland, located at the base of your brain, the Reptilian or Old Brain (regulates many body functions, including appetite, thirst, temperature, sleep and mood).

The Hypothalamus is a KEY player in that it orchestrates the play between your nervous and endocrine systems. It is thus at the juncture of your Hypothalmus that a signal is sent to your Pituitary gland (the Master controller for your entire Endocrine system).

This neuro-chemical signal and response mechanism culminates at your Adrenal glands (your fight or flight, response to stress mechanism which controls aggression and sexual response)

The Aromatherapy Delivery pathways for your organs and other systems. Please refer to the chart on aromatherapy delivery pathways.

CLICK TO VIEW Chart on Aromatherapy Delivery Pathways

The Vapors entering through your nose go immediately into your Lungs where they enter your Bloodstream.

Through your Bloodstream the oils are delivered to your heart, as well as all your body tissues and organs, the liver and pancreas, your reproductive organs, skin, kidney and bladder.

The oils then circulate back to your Lungs where they are excreted.

Research shows that through inhalation essential oils will remain for a longer period in your cell tissues (4-6 hours) than through any other means of application.

You may also use some type of aroma diffuser such as an aroma lamp to dispense the lighter more fluid essential oils scent into a room. Essential oils, when diffused, provide a high quality air filtration system.

The Best Delivery Method for Benefit to the Skin, Muscle tissues or Joints is through application on the skin. Remember to always dilute essential oils with a vegetable oil when applying directly to your skin as they are extremely concentrated and may cause skin irritation.

Essential Oils will:

  • Purify by removing metallic particles and toxins from the air.
  • Increase atmospheric oxygen by releasing oxygenating molecules into the air.
  • Increase the body’s ability to transport oxygen into the cells. Why is this? Because the lipid-soluble structure of essential oils allows them to easily pass through cell membranes of the nose and carry oxygen and nutrients into the cells. Current modern day research is showing that the primary causes of disease in both plants and humans is the inability of nutrients to penetrate the cell wall. This results in poor nutrition and toxicity which leads to cell deterioration and subsequent cell mutation, creating a host for bacteria and disease.
  • Increase ozone & negative ions, which inhibits bacterial growth.• Destroy odors from mold, cigarettes, and animals.
  • Fill the air with fresh, herbal aromatic scent.

Essential Oils are Chemical Cleaners. Essential oils can make chemicals nontoxic by fracturing their molecular structure. European scientists have found that essential oils works as natural chelators, bonding to metallics and chemicals and ferrying them out of the body.

Surely we all prefer a natural, effective treatment that causes no added stress to our systems. For those who wish to be directly involved with their own self help, who prefer a remedy that treats the whole system rather than just the symptoms, aromatherapy provides a safe, natural treatment, one that can produce surprising results where other methods of treatment may have failed.

Aromatherapy and healing with aromatic plants is a natural and holistic therapy that’s been used since ancient times and proven safe and effective for improving one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Aromatically yours,

P.S. Please send me your questions – what two questions would you like to ask me? What do you need help with? I won’t always be able to answer individually… but I will try to answer them in a future issue. Send your questions to me through my Contact Form HERE.

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