Inhale! The underused power of SMELL... - Everyday Essentials

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Everyday Essentials by Plant Therapy

Inhale! The underused power of SMELL…

By: Christina Smith, Certified Aromatherapist


Smell is such an incredibly powerful sense. Smell an apple pie or fresh bread baking in the oven and be transported to your grandmothers kitchen. A whiff of perfume or cologne might remind you of a first love. Catch the smell of lilac and think about spring. Olfaction, or sense of smell, is one of our five senses. Since we only have 5 – it’s also very important. Did you know that females have a stronger sense of smell than males? This may explain why our males friends don’t seem to have the same benefits that women do! Wow! No wonder aromatherapy is so effective for those of us who use it! In order to understand why smell is so important, let’s take a look at your limbic system which contains olfaction.

How your Limbic System affects you:

Your limbic system is responsible for many functions like, emotions, memory, behavior and olfaction. What’s really neat about your limbic system is how these functions work together. When you smell lavender – it can calm you. That just smelling it, not rubbing it on your skin in a lotion or ingesting it in a pill! How awesome! On the other hand, when damage occurs to the limbic system it can result in conditions such as amnesia or Alzheimer’s disease. That means that your limbic system is a really important piece of the puzzle that is your amazing brain. Your limbic system influences your hormone secretions, your metabolism, your emotions, your mood, and many other aspects of your daily life!


What does this mean in relation to essential oils?

Since we know that essential oils have a smell and we know that smell can affect the limbic system, aromatherapy has nearly everything to do with your sense of smell. Now, lets be honest here, aromatherapy is not a cure all. However, it can be very useful in symptom control in the case of physical conditions and is very effective in helping to manage emotional conditions. Since your brain can’t experience the world on it’s own it relies on senses to “tell” it what’s going on. The brain receives information from nerves and sensory organs. The olfactory nerve connects to the thalamus (which acts as kind of a filter, only sending on some input) and is the only one of the senses that connects directly to the cerebral cortex. Ok, I know that sounds complicated – but it means that smell can bypass the filter and act directly on the brain itself. Cool, right?

How does this effect how I use my essential oils?

Now what does all this have to do with how we use our essential oils? Most people want to know where to put oil on the body. While topical application is certainly excellent for things like sore muscles or some other injury, as I have learned more in the field of aromatherapy I have begun to realize that inhalation is really the most underused and safest method available. This is especially true for emotional concerns. If simply smelling an oil can help with your mood or fight off germs, why bother with rubbing, dabbing or spraying it ON you?

I have two favorite tools for inhalation. My diffuser, which I use anytime I am at home. Personal inhalers which I can take anywhere with me. Since I can personalize the oils inside, it’s perfect for those of us with small kids or pets who we don’t want to expose to oils that may not be appropriate for them.

Hopefully this helps you understand a bit more about the “why” aromatherapy works so well! Please let us know if you have questions or comments! You can email us at [email protected]

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29 thoughts on “Inhale! The underused power of SMELL…”

  • I have just started using an inhaler of eucalyptus at work to help my sinuses deal with the cold Ac. I find it works well.I didn’t want a necklace or keychain as you never know other people’s sensitivity. Myself, lavender makes me sick but also migraine suffer so I try to be respectful to those around me.

  • I just began using essential oils this year and have so much to learn. I enjoy using my diffuser, but after reading this article I now look forward to trying out Plant Therapy’s personal inhalers. Thank you for this information.

  • Hello I am new to using essential oils. I am intersted in the inhalers. What are some of the oils that can be used in them and what for exactly?

    1. Shelby,there are so many different ways to use essential oils in inhalers, it’s incredible! They work great for emotional support, as well as respiratory support. Here is a link to our Substitution Chart which will list oils for particular situations. Please keep in mind, the more physical things like Digestive upset, overexertion, tension etc. will be more effective with topical application rather than just inhalation.

  • I am completely anosmic. I can’t smell anything, ever, and we’ve never figured out why. Can aromatherapy still work for me? Or does it *require* being able to smell?

    1. That is an excellent question! You can still receive many of the therapeutic benefits of Essential oils without being able to smell them. Inhaling the chemical components or absorbing through the skin will still benefit you

  • I am fairly new to using essential oils never knew these inhalers existed until I received the plastic ones from plant therapy as a free gift with my order. I just want to say thank you so much to plant therapy for doing this because I absolutely love using inhalers now. My favorite one is an orange, lemon, and peppermint mix I always have with me when I need a little pick me up. So easy and convenient, I am definitely hooked on inhalers now!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that with us! Inhalers really are an excellent way to get the benefits from EOs daily, and on the go. We are so happy that you are enjoying yours 🙂

  • I have diffuser for the bedroom at night and just bought a car diffuser what’s a personal inhaler? Is that like the necklace I ordered too?

  • I have a 9 and 10 year old. Is it safe to diffuse eucolyptis if the door is shut and they do not enter the room it is being diffused in?

    1. As more research has been done expert Robert Tisserand recommends diffusing Eucalyptus and applying topically at 1% is safe for children over the age of 3.

      1. I was wondering if you could recommend any thing that would help with respiratory issues. My husband has silicosis and the eucalyptus has net helped at all. Thank you.

  • I stared using a diffuser for my oils. I have two cats. Do I need to be concerned since they live in the home with me? So far I have diffused lavender and citrus oils.

    Thank you!

    1. We don’t have formal training with essential oils and pets. However, a wonderful resource is “Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals” by Kristen Leigh Bell. She has many tips & tricks (plus good sound advice) on how to incorporate aromatherapy with your pets. Cats actually lack anenzyme that properly metabolize essential oils – and it’s best to avoid using them with your cat.

  • I sure am hoping that the car diffuser is just as beneficial and safe as well since I just received it in the mail. Yay!

  • wonderful publish, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite specialists of this sector do not notice
    this. You must continue your writing. I am sure, you have
    a great readers’ base already!

  • Using an inhaler is my favorite way to use oils, l have tried various other methods and always come back to the personal inhalers, l have one by my bed with lavender, anti anxiety, and vetiver, it helps me to wind down before getting in bed….great blog, very informative.

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