This month....

November 2019

November & a few days rain free brings soft mellow light, multi coloured leaves fluttering to the ground, fluffy clouds & little birds flitting about. A brief tranquillity before the next band of rain.

Each season has its pluses. The scents at this time of year are one of them. Crisp, earthy, musty even, plus all the bonfire smoke. Evenings drawing in brings cosiness, a time when we like to scent our homes. Candles, incense, essential oils.

One of the ways of using essential oils is through inhalation. As in keeping a room fresh or scented or for therapeutic purposes preferably in consultation with an aromatherapist. The old way is through a candle burning vapouriser, adding essential oils & water to a small ceramic dish so that the oils are dispersed into the air when heated. Diffusers & electronic vapourisers have taken over, helpfully switching themselves off when levels get low. Still using water & oils, they release a fine spray or mist into the air. Or there are nebulisers where only oils are used, releasing particles into the air without any change to their chemical constituents.

All well & good. Then you can get nice lights to go with your diffuser which some find soothing & relaxing. The aim is to relax, uplift and scent a room. Diffusers are great for a large space and pre prepared blends make them simple & easy to use. They are also particularly beneficial for using in waiting areas for example, to prevent viruses spreading in winter. The downside is they should not be used continuously, especially in pregnancy, for the young, elderly, pets, anyone with respiratory problems or on medication.

For therapeutic purposes, the same methods can be used. A few drops into your device to ease sinus congestion, or prepare a room for sleeping when you have the flu. A specially prepared mix of of oils can be applied to an aroma stick & inhaled when you are on the move. You can apply a few drops to a tissue or put on your pillow at night. You can rub an essential oil ointment onto your chest or use steam inhalation, as in inhaling over a bowl of warm water, or adding the mix to the bath.

So how does all this work? Inhaling essential oil molecules stimulates the olfactory system, interacting with the olfactory organs which relate to the sense of smell. Molecules inhaled through the nose or mouth are also carried to the lungs and interact with the respiratory system. Molecules affect the brain via receptor sites which include the limbic system, or "emotional brain", associated with heart rate, breathing, memory & emotions. This explains why we react so strongly to smell, which may easily trigger long lost memories & transport us back over the years.

Next time you go into a scented room or for a nice autumn walk note how the smells affect you as there is a complex process taking place.

© Susan Mumford, 2019