Here’s the science behind the power of essential oils and aromatherapy

Here’s the science behind the power of essential oils and aromatherapy

The practice of using herbs for healing has been around for centuries. Before modern pharmaceuticals were invented, people relied on ointments, oils and perfumes made from aromatic medicinal plants for improving overall health and well-being. Not only were these concoctions believed to uplift the spirit and drive away threats, but they were also thought to connect the human with the divine. [1]

One of the earliest forms of treatment using plants involves the burning of fragrant herbs to “smoke” the sick. This practice, which is akin to burning incense for purification purposes, was also used in ancient times to drive out evil spirits. Early religions considered the air and the breath to be manifestations of the divine, so inhaling the pleasant aroma of burnt herbs, woods, spices or resins was believed to cleanse and heal the body from within. Filling a place with aromatic smoke was also considered a good way to purify the air and get rid of negative energy.

Today, despite modern advances, these beliefs are still very much alive and influence not only religious, but also medicinal, practices. Interest in alternative medicine, particularly the use of herbal remedies, has grown steadily in recent years, and aromatherapy, an offshoot of herbal medicine, has now become many people’s go-to remedy. [2]

Although rooted in the same principles, there’s a stark difference between modern aromatherapy and what was practiced in ancient times. Compared to the aromatic oils used by ancient healers, the essential oils used in today’s version of aromatherapy are more concentrated plant extracts. This not only makes them more potent, but their natural abundance of active components also allows them to offer plenty of health benefits. [3]

The science behind the therapeutic benefits of essential oils

Historical records suggest that the ancient Egyptians were the pioneers of using aromatic oils derived from plants for various purposes, such as medicine, incense and cosmetics. In order to obtain these oils, they either soaked plant parts (e.g., roots, seeds or petals) in oil then wrung the mixture through a cloth (enfleurage) or heated them in oil or other solvents (maceration).

Although these methods allowed them to extract fragrances, they weren’t the most efficient. It wasn’t until distillation was invented that people were able to reliably extract most of the aromatic compounds in medicinal plants. Because essential oils are highly concentrated, they have a stronger smell than the plants they were derived from and are extremely potent. [4] In fact, modern distillation methods like steam distillation allow up to 93% of a plant’s essential oil content to be extracted without significant loss of phytonutrients. [5]

Although some people doubt the medicinal value of essential oils, there’s a clear science behind their reported benefits. According to a report compiled by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the effects of essential oils on the human body are linked to how the aromatic compounds they contain impact the olfactory bulb. [6] The olfactory bulb is an essential structure in the olfactory system that contains several neurons responsible for receiving and transmitting olfactory information. [7]  

When you inhale essential oils, the aromatic compounds in them stimulate odor receptors in your nasal cavity to produce chemical signals that activate olfactory receptor cells. These cells then send the signals to the neurons in your olfactory bulb, which forward the information to your olfactory cortex – the main site in your brain that processes olfactory information.

According to research, the neurons in your olfactory bulb play a critical role in olfactory processing. Information is sent to your olfactory cortex by two types of olfactory bulb neurons, namely, mitral cells and tufted cells. Their activities are regulated by two other types of neurons, namely, granule cells and periglomerular cells, which can inhibit their actions. [8]

Interestingly, not all odor compounds can excite mitral cells and tufted cells. In fact, studies show that these neurons don’t respond to the same aromatic compounds. Instead, each type only recognizes chemicals with specific structures. [9]

What’s more, mitral cells and tufted cells carry olfactory information to different parts of your olfactory cortex, some of which are also involved in associative memory (piriform cortex), spatial learning (entorhinal cortex), memory encoding and emotional regulation (amygdala), among other things. [10][11][12] This means that, depending on their aromatic components and the neurons they stimulate, it is possible for essential oils to exert some influence on these brain regions and their functions when inhaled.

Another way essential oils can work on your body is if you apply them topically. Organic essential oils are rich in phytonutrients that can support your health from the outside and from within. You can take advantage of this by diluting your chosen essential oil in a good carrier oil that’s gentle enough for topical application and easily absorbed by your skin. Some of the best natural oils to use as carrier oils include coconut oil, jojoba oil, black cumin seed oil and rosehip oil. [13]

Essential oils that can support your overall health

Aromatherapy is now widely practiced around the world and has become well-known for its mental health benefits. A number of studies have also reported that some essential oils have natural cleansing properties that make them suitable for topical applications. [14]

For instance, a study published in the journal Antibiotics listed 10 essential oils that can support the protective functions of your skin. [15] This benefit was attributed to the bioactive compounds they contain, whose potent properties allow the oils to provide invaluable support for the immune system. Some of the essential oils on the list include myrrh, thyme, cinnamon bark, pimento berry (allspice) and cumin seed essential oils. 

If you’re looking for great oils to use for aromatherapy, these five essential oils are sure to delight you with their pleasing aromas and wealth of health benefits:*

Organic frankincense serrata

Dubbed the “King of Oils” because of its versatility and beneficial properties, frankincense oil has been used since ancient times as a natural remedy for various ailments. [16] Extracted from the resin produced by the Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense) tree, this essential oil has a bright citrus aroma and natural cleansing properties that can help purify the air inside your house and clean any surface. Studies have shown that frankincense serrata oil also contains powerful ingredients like a-thujene and boswellic acids that offer support for your mood, skin, joints, oral health and immune system. [17][18]

Health Ranger’s Organic Frankincense Serrata Essential Oil is a lab-verified essential oil that’s great to have on hand for your home and self-care needs. Every bottle contains only 100% pure, high-quality frankincense serrata essential oil and is free of additives, fillers and synthetic chemicals. This premium product is also therapeutic grade, certified organic and lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Organic sweet orange

Sweet orange essential oil is extracted from the rind of the Citrus sinensis (sweet orange) fruit. According to research, this pleasant-smelling oil typically contains more than 90% of an aromatic compound known as limonene, which gives sweet oranges their distinct citrusy smell. [19] Sweet orange essential oil also contains another aromatic compound called linalool, which smells like sweet lavender with a touch of citrus. [20] Together, limonene and linalool give sweet orange essential oil desirable properties that allow it to support healthy skin and immune function, as well as a positive mood. [21][22] Both limonene and linalool also possess natural cleansing properties that make sweet orange essential oil an excellent, non-toxic cleaning agent to use around the home. [23]

Bursting with the sweet, delectable scent of Mexican oranges, Health Ranger’s Organic Sweet Orange Essential Oil can naturally uplift your mood, support skin health and the optimal functions of your immune system. Every bottle of this therapeutic grade essential oil contains no GMOs or chemical preservatives and is lab verified for cleanliness and purity. It is also certified organic and lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Organic peppermint

Derived from the Mentha x piperita plant, one of the oldest herbs used in European folk medicine, organic peppermint essential oil is often used topically to relieve minor skin issues like itching. When used for aromatherapy, peppermint essential oil is said to naturally soothe coughs and reduce stressful feelings. [24] But what makes this versatile oil even more special is that it can help keep your teeth and gums clean and your breath fresh when mixed with your toothpaste or mouthwash. [25] All of these benefits are thanks to menthol and menthone, the two main active components of peppermint essential oil, as well as a variety of antioxidant polyphenols. [26][27]

Health Ranger’s Organic Peppermint Essential Oil is extracted from the leaves and topmost flowers of the Mentha x piperita plant using steam distillation. It contains high amounts of the beneficial compounds, menthol (50-60%) and menthone (10-30%), which are known for their invigorating, energizing and cooling properties. Our premium peppermint essential oil is certified organic and therapeutic grade, contains no additives or synthetic chemicals, and is thoroughly lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Organic rosemary

One of the most well-loved and widely used essential oils for aromatherapy, organic rosemary essential oil has a distinctive, citrus-like, herbaceous scent that many people find energizing. [28] Rosemary essential oil is extracted from the Rosmarinus officinalis plant, an herb native to the Mediterranean region that has been used for culinary, medicinal and religious purposes for thousands of years. When diffused, rosemary essential oil is said to exert a calming effect, help reduce stressful feelings and support mental clarity. It is also known for its beneficial effects on the skin and scalp. According to studies, rosemary owes its health-supporting properties to potent antioxidants like camphor, rosmarinic acid, caffeic acid, betulinic acid and ursolic acid. [29][30]

Health Ranger’s Organic Rosemary Essential Oil is a must-have essential oil for aromatherapy. With its woodsy fragrance and abundance of beneficial components, this versatile oil can be of great help whenever you’re feeling stressed or when your skin is in need of rejuvenation. Our premium rosemary essential oil contains no synthetic chemicals or artificial ingredients and is certified organic, lab-verified and therapeutic grade. It is also lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Organic cardamom

Although not as popular as rosemary, cardamom essential oil is just as versatile and has a spicy yet sweet, woody aroma. Because it blends well with other oils, cardamom essential oil is often used in combination with citrus oils, wood oils and spice oils. [31] It is also said to be both uplifting and energizing when inhaled and contains familiar compounds like limonene and linalool – the same active ingredients found in orange essential oil. Thanks to the presence of both as well as the highly potent eucalyptol, cardamom essential oil boasts incredible antioxidant and natural cleansing properties that can support optimal skin health and oral health, a positive mood and healthy immune function. [32]

Derived from the seeds of the Elettaria cardamomum plant, Health Ranger’s Organic Cardamom Essential Oil is a great essential oil to have in your medicine cabinet. Use it together with other oils like orange, rose or eucalyptus to create blends that will delight your senses while supporting your overall health and well-being. [33] Our high-quality organic cardamom essential oil is pure therapeutic grade, certified organic and extensively lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

If you’re interested in essential oil blends, we have two incredible new blends for you to try. Introducing our Health Ranger’s Organic Immunity Essential Oil Blend and Health Ranger’s Organic Breathe Essential Oil Blend, which are both therapeutic grade essential oil blends especially formulated to fulfill your home and self-care needs.

Our Immunity essential oil blend is a combination of some of our favorite aromatic oils, such as organic lemon, cinnamon bark, clove bud, eucalyptus radiata and rosemary essential oils. We’ve carefully chosen these versatile oils to help you create a protective and healthy environment wherever you are.

Meanwhile, our premium organic Breathe essential oil blend is made with organic peppermint, clary sage, tea tree, cardamom, eucalyptus radiata, lemon and laurel leaf essential oils to help clear your mind and improve your focus. When diffused, our high-quality essential oil blend can also freshen the air in any room of your house and fill it with a crisp, clean smell you and your family will surely enjoy.

Like all our organic essential oils, Health Ranger’s Organic Immunity Essential Oil Blend and Health Ranger’s Organic Breathe Essential Oil Blend are USDA organic and contain no harmful additives or synthetic chemicals. They are also thoroughly lab tested for glyphosate, heavy metals and microbiology.

Experience the wonderful benefits of aromatherapy by trying these organic essential oils today!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not recommended to treat, cure or diagnose any disease.