In the 2011 Sedona Winter Retreat
Free Soul introduced attendees to the concept that
aromatherapy could be used to help clear Limbic Stress.
Below is the article by Free Soul Instructors given to students explaining the connection.
Aromatherapy, Olfaction and the Brain
Joy Musacchio MA, LMT,NCTMB
Cynthia Brownley MS, LMT, NCTMB
Did you know that the message from your nose is sent to your brain almost instantaneously? Our nervous system is continually tuning in to the external world; it picks up visual cues, physical cues, sounds, smells and tastes. The sense of smell affects the brain a bit differently than the other senses. It is immediate! Impulses are sent to both the cortex and the limbic regions of the brain directly from the olfactory bulb.
So the two parts of the brain that are directly impacted by olfaction are the limbic system and the cerebral cortex.
The limbic system is a complex set of structures of the brain that lies on both sides of the thalamus, just under the cerebrum. It includes the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, the amygdala, and several other nearby areas. The limbic system appears to have a huge impact on a number of responses such as emotion, instinctive behavior, motivation, drive, feelings, learning and memory and is not under conscious control.
This center is where our instinctive behaviors, or drives, or automatic emotional responses (fight or flight) live. The limbic system plays an important role in memory and learning as it facilitates memory storage and retrieval. Long-term memories can be evoked here. For example when a certain smell triggers a childhood memory.
Because of this, it makes sense that essential oils a.k.a aromatherapy can have a huge impact on our limbic system. One way in which essential oils are used is by inhalation through the nasal passages. The aroma of the oil is recognized through the sense of smell. A very important aspect of smell is that olfactory neurons make up the only sensory pathway that is in direct contact with the brain. Olfactory neurons are in contact with the limbic center of the brain. Because of the close connection to the limbic center, feelings and emotions can be regulated, as well as memory.
Another part of the brain that is affected by our different senses is the Cerebral Cortex. The cerebral cortex plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. The cortex enables us to learn higher functions like language, perform complex tasks, and to think, learn, remember and create. It is what makes us very different from the animal kingdom. Olfactory stimulation is the only type of sensory information that reaches the cerebral cortex directly. All other sensory information, eg. auditory, visual, physical feeling, first stops at another portion of the brain, the thalamus. This is where the information is decoded/interpreted and then sent on to the brain.
Olfaction, sense of smell, has an enormous impact on the brain. Since the brain is somewhat the control tower of our lives, it is safe to say that pure therapeutic essential oils ( aromatherapy ) can play a huge role in our emotional well being and in our ability to live a joyous free life!