A Closer Look at Essential Oil Therapy

Aging well

Essential Oils: Myth or Medicine?

Natural essential oils have been in use since the dawn of primitive medicinal practises. Our ancestors utilised them for their organic remedial properties, and as the modern world has started to once again show interest in ancient methods and ways of being, so has the interest in aromatherapy blossomed. Many people all over the world regularly use essential oils to help relieve insomnia, anxiety, physical pain and skin problems.

However, not everyone is convinced. There is a fair amount of controversy associated with the medicinal use of essential oils, and many people perceive their healing properties as no more than a placebo effect. All things considered, here is what we do know about how essential oils work and why some people may testify to their effectiveness.

The Olfactory System

The olfactory system is the sensory system in your nose that allows you to have a sense of smell. Stimuli (odorants) that you inhale through your nasal cavities will enter the olfactory system and be delivered to the forebrain, where they may interact with the amygdala and hypothalamus parts of the brain.

This results in the odorants being processed and identified for an effective and appropriate emotional, visceral, or motor reaction. The olfactory system can also be a gateway to allowing stimuli into other systems, such as the nervous system or metabolic system. The olfactory system is responsible for the reactions that your mind or body might have when being treated with aromatherapy. There are some essential oils which initiate certain responses in the body when inhaled directly, allowing for certain reactions to occur.

Lavender oil, for example, is known for the sedative, analgesic, and anxiolytic effect it produces when inhaled. Recent studies suggest that lavender oil is a valid and comprehensive tool to use against insomnia, but how exactly is that result achieved? The answer lies not just with the olfactory system, but with the systems it allows odorants like lavender to access, such as the nervous system.

The Nervous System  

Oils like lavender are only effective once they have reached the nervous system. This vital bodily system is predominantly responsible for the functioning of pain receptors, motor responses and temperature control. Via these functions, the body is able to regulate sleep, stress levels, and pain.

When lavender oil has made its way to the nervous system via the olfactory system, it can start to create a sedative environment within the body that promotes physical and mental relaxation, ultimately facilitating sleep and reduced anxiety.


Lavender is just one of the many popular aromatherapy options, but there are hundreds of others that work in similar ways to produce a wide variety of healing effects. Plus, you don’t even have to earn real money to buy it, you can grow your own for free at home. Some may work better than others, but all of them will start with the nose.