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Aug 30 2010 As much as we love essential oils and all the wonderful things they can do for us, it certainly helps to know how they work within our bodies to enable us to use them optimally. The mechanism also forms a scientific basis to establish their myriad positive effects on the body, mind and soul. The aim of this article is not to confuse the reader with complex theories and jargon but to put across facts about aromatherapy in a simple and easy-to-understand manner. Essential oils can enter the body via two routes – the nose (inhalation) and the skin (topic application, massage, baths).


  • Essential oil particles are quickly picked up by the tiny hairs in our nostrils (cilia) and are absorbed into the mucous lining from where the aroma reaches the ‘smell center’ in the brain (olfactory bulb).
  • The olfactory center converts the aroma into a neural code which is relayed across to the ‘emotion center’ (limbic system) and further to the ‘short-term memory center’ (hippocampus) and the ‘long term memory center’ (hypothalamus).
  • The information is then passed on to the ‘master gland’ (pituitary gland)  and other endocrine glands to secrete ‘feel good’ hormones and  to restore hormonal balance.
To put it straight, here is how it goes: Nose —-> Smell center —-> Emotional center —-> Short term memory —-> Long term memory —-> Master gland —-> Endocrine system In this simple way, the brain establishes a strong connection between certain smells, emotions and memories and responds to it in a predictable way. For instance, if your partner professes his love for you with a bunch of red roses, your brain will associate the smell with a romantic emotion and fragrance will make you feel nostalgic and romantic for a long time to come. Inhalation is especially helpful in alleviating emotional problems like stress, anxiety and depression. Oils like Eucalyptus, Ravensara, Tea Tree, Pine, Rosemary and Niaouli can be directly transported to the lungs within seconds to help with respiratory difficulties. Inhalation is an easy, effective and inexpensive mode of administration that can be carried out anywhere at any time.
  • Place 2-3 drops of an essential oil  or essential oil blend on a tissue and inhale deeply.
  • You may also place a few drops of the oil on the insides of your shirt so that the heat from your body can send aromatic vapors up to your nose all through the day. It also acts as an organic alternative to perfumes.


Until a few decades ago, the skin was thought to be almost impermeable but modern research changed all that. It is interesting how components of essential oils can be detected in exhaled air after 20-60 minutes of topical application!* All essential oils undergo a process of distillation where the finest and smallest molecules remain. These molecules are small enough to penetrate the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and the smaller they are, the faster they are absorbed. The molecules pass through the deeper layers of the skin (dermis) and enter the blood stream through the capillaries from where they are taken to various parts of the body. Owing to their specific biochemical characteristics, the oil molecules bind to cell receptors in the target organ and work as a tonic for the same.  While traveling in the body, the oils also act to revitalize and detoxify organs involved in metabolism and drainage (kidneys, liver and lymphatic network). Skin (outer layer) —-> Skin (inner layer) —-> Capillaries —->Blood stream —-> Target organs —-> Cell receptors —> Metabolized and excreted The topical method of administrations is therefore, more holistic in nature as it seeks to balance out all systems of the body. Since they are all-natural compounds, essential oils do not deposit themselves in the cells and are expelled from the body through sweat, urine and exhalation within 24 hours. The absorption of oils into the skin depends on several factors:
  • Skin diseases and wounds may interfere with the rate of absorption.
  • A warm bath hydrates the skin and opens up the pores thus facilitating penetration to a large extent.
  • Compresses increase the surface temperature and prevent loss of molecules through evaporation.
  • Thinner carrier oils are more effective for penetration than thicker, viscous oils.
  • Essential oils with a higher molecular weight take longer to get absorbed.
  • Warm temperatures cause capillary dilatation and promote faster penetration and absorption.


Aromatherapy For Health Professionals, Shirley Price, Len Price THIRD EDITION ‘How does Aromatherapy Work in the Body’ (http://www.altmd.com/Articles/How-does-Aromatherapy-Work-in-the-Body)  
© 2011, Cristina Proano-Carrion, Aromandina LLC This information is based on traditional use of aromatherapy and it does not intend to diagnose or treat any condition. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical counseling with a health care professional. No part of this article may be reproduced in whole or in part without the explicit written permission of Aromandina.
Jul 16 2010 Aromatherapy compresses

This is one of my favorite methods of essential oil application for many acute conditions. It is very useful to allow essential oils to penetrate in a particular area of the body.
1)  Mix 6 drops of essential oil(s) and 1 tablespoon salt in an empty bowl
2) Fill bowl with hot or cold water
3) Soak a piece of cloth, wring it out and cover the affected area
4) Repeat this process for 5 to 15 minutes, as needed.

For alternate compresses fill one bowl with very warm water, and the other one with iced water .

Here are some examples:


Years ago we were invited to a family party, the moment we arrived my sister started to scream out of pain, she had an awful kidney stone that started to bother right at that moment.  Luckily for her, I carried my essential oils with me.  I asked the host of the party to give me two bowls.

I mixed 3 drops of Grapefruit essential oil and 3 drops of Fennel essential oil with 1 tablespoon of regular salt and added to one bowl.

I created another mixture and added to the other bowl.  One bowl was filled with hot water, the other one with iced water.

Fennel and Grapefruit are said to be litholytic which means they can dissolve stones. [1]

She was crying and initially would not even allow me to touch her.  I applied one compress at a time, first the hot one, then the cold one for about 15 minutes. 

The pain subsided, she literally woke up and went to the bathroom, expelled the stone and went to dance!

After the party I made a massage oil with orange, grapefruit, fennel and other detoxing oils, she applied it on her lower back and lower abdomen every day and never complained about a kidney stone again. I have recommended this method to many more friends and clients, they have always reported great results.

Aromandina’s recommendation: Detoxing Body Oil


I’m one of those lucky women who hasn’t had a problem like that, but since I have worked in several spas I knew how my fellow coworkers felt on one of those days when they could not do a treatment out of the pain they were feeling. The essential oil  that have worked very well for me are: You can also use some Frankincense if the pain is excruciating.  I remember that every time I applied these compresses I could feel their organs moving, almost like dancing, like stretching. 
After 10 minutes, the pain was gone!
I then recommended them to use a massage oil with the same oils on a regular basis in order to not only address the symptoms but also to start regulating their bodies and hormonal system.

Aromandina’s recommendation for compresses: RADIARE Essential Oil, for massage oil: Woman’s Help Body Oil


When my husband suffered from migraines, I used cephalic and analgesic essential oils, to stimulate circulation. I applied the alternate compress method and again, it only needed 10 minutes for him to feel great again. The following  essential oils are very useful: Aromandina’s recommendation for compresses: Memoria Blend, for daily application: Headache Begone Roll On
NOTE: Headaches and migraines are usually symptoms of many other conditions.  This is just a method to help with the pain, but I highly recommend visiting a holistic practitioner who can help you get to the root of the causes.


I always tell my students and clients that my son, in his 13 years of life has had only  5 infections.  He doesn’t remember if he ever had a fever, and yes, his last fever was when he was 8 years old where he had an ear infection.

For fevers, think about cool oils like Spearmint and Lavender.

Apply cold compresses on the forehead, abdomen and feet.


Muscle Pain: peppermint, rosemary, lavender, marjoram, birch – cold or hot compresses

Stomach Cramps: ginger, cardamom, fennel, cinnamon [1]

Aromatherapy for Health Professionals (Price, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals)
© 2010, Cristina Proano-Carrion, Aromandina, LLC Disclaimer: these are effective methods that can help with the pain and discomfort but they don’t offer any diagnosis or treatment of medical,  or health issues. Please consult your licensed practitioner any medical or health.
This information on this blog is based on traditional use of aromatherapy and it does not intend to diagnose or treat any condition. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical counseling with a health care professional. No part of this blog may be reproduced in whole or in part without the explicit written permission of Aromandina.

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