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Aromatherapy and the Limbic System

Why essential oils can make you feel so good

Newly mown grass. Woodland after rainfall. A baby’s head. Fresh baked bread. Grandma’s perfume. We all have favourite smells that lift our spirits or evoke a rush of feeling.

With most of us able to immediately think of a scent that connects us to our past, it should come as no surprise that studies show smells have a stronger link to memory and emotion than any of our other senses. This is because of the way the olfactory system - the bodily structures that serve the sense of smell – interact with the regions in our brain related to emotion and memory.

Welcome to the Limbic System

These areas in the brain, which include the amygdala and hippocampus, are called the limbic system. This system is responsible for our emotional responses and survival behaviours such as feeding, reproduction, childcare, and fight or flight responses.

The limbic system also controls functions such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, stress levels and hormone balance which explains why connecting to it can have such a powerful mind/body effect.

How Does Aromatherapy Affect the Limbic System?

Essential oils – highly concentrated extractions from plant flowers, leaves, fruits and bark – have been shown to interact with the brain’s hypothalamus and pituitary gland, in turn releasing hormones into the body. By inhaling stimulating, uplifting, clarifying, calming or soothing essential oils, the brain releases neurochemicals which can affect memory, cognition, mood and emotion.

Oils such as frankincense and sandalwood contain high levels of sesquiterpenes which have been found to increase the amount of oxygen in the limbic system, especially around the pineal and pituitary glands - this in turn leads to an increased release of antibodies, endorphins and neurotransmitters. These oils have been used for millennia in spiritual rituals and meditation practices because of their deeply soothing effects.

Thought to be over 6,000 years old, the practice of distilling and extracting plant potency has its roots in distant civilisations. Science is increasingly proving what ancient cultures intrinsically understood; most recently a 2019 study affirmed that ‘essential oils containing 1,8-cineole, menthol, β-pinene, and limonene, can have a stimulating effect on brain wave activity’.

Stimulating Essential Oils

Refreshing, uplifting and clarifying, essential oils of may chang and grapefruit have been shown to invigorate the mind while helping to detoxify the body and improve lymphatic drainage. We’ve drawn on this powerhouse pair in our Organic Alchemist Detox and Invigorate Sugar Body Scrub. Not just nourishment for the skin, the aromatherapeutic scrub invites you to deeply inhale as you apply for a holistic experience.

The uplifting scent evokes a sense of summer and zingy cleanliness. When the oils meet with the steam from your shower or bath, a heavenly scent cloud is created, ensuring that the body and mind experience equal levels of energising uplift. Your skin is left soft, hydrated and glowing while your mood gets a joy infusion.

Whether you want to clear your head before a big day or deeply cleanse and boost your bodily systems, discover the power of aromatherapy in our deliciously decadent Detox and Invigorate Sugar Body Scrub.

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