But wait, how do essential oils actually work?
Posted by Rachael Gibson, Jun 10, 2021
You know Sicilian lemon makes you feel uplifted, and there’s nothing like lavender to help you feel relaxed and sleepy. But WHY? It’s not magic, it’s biology. We can experience essential oils in three ways: Through aromatherapy, through our skin and by ingesting, and there’s a reason each one makes us feel good. At NEOM we make products for you to INHALE and ABSORB, so let’s break down why and how these methods deliver you such a powerful feel good message.
Our sense of smell is deep-seated and primal. 12 million olfactory sensory neurons (i.e., the things that detect smells), pick up aromas via molecules in our environments that stimulate the limbic system in our brains which identifies the smell, before the hypothalamus gland sends a message to the most relevant part of the body. That’s why certain smells can trigger powerful memories, or a physical response. AND it’s why inhaling essential oils ACTUALLY has an effect on how we feel. For example, the properties in lavender essential oil = your body knows it’s time to slow down that breathing and blood pressure, and switch into sleep. That’s why making essential oils a part of your habits builds on the effect too - use a Magnesium Body Butter every night and your brain is reminded it’s time for bed..
Those olfactory sensory neurons placed high in our noses can be reached via two ways, one through our nostrils and the other via the channel connecting the roof of the mouth and the nose. That second pathway comes into play when we chew food, and explains why our sense of taste and smell are so closely linked. When that pathway is blocked up due to a cold for example, the odours from what you’re eating don’t reach your sensory neurons, so you don’t get the full taste of the meal you’re trying to enjoy.
Those 12 million sensory neurons we have? Those are small numbers compared to dogs, which have anything from 100 to 200 million. A bloodhound has around 300 million, and can detect 40,000 different odours… WOW.
Inhaling essential oils has our senses and memories triggered. But absorbing via massage or using skincare that harnesses the power of natural oils brings a whole new level. Tiny molecules from the oils can travel right through the epidermis, penetrating the skin and entering the bloodstream directly, before being circulated around our muscles and tissue via blood vessels.
Every essential oil is different, but most of them share antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. As the tiny molecules travel around the physical body, they help heal and protect any calls they come across, helping you build strength, resistance to stressors and to maintain healthy systems. Essential oils also contain antioxidants which boost cell renewal and build protective barriers. Our bodies eliminate essential oils from the bloodstream pretty quickly, but the effects in our muscles, organs and tissues stick around much longer.
Not all essential oil blends are created equal, which is why it’s important to make sure the products you’re using are blended in safe quantities, and any powerful essential oils you’re using on your skin are mixed with carrier oils to dilute them to safe levels, and that you don’t exceed the recommended few drops in your Wellbeing Pod. NEOM products are carefully balanced to give the maximum effect with no risks to you (though we recommend consulting a vet before use around animals). Once you’ve identified your favourite products though, here’s how you can boost the effects:
- Use essential oils with purpose and as part of your routine, so it becomes memory recall and adds to the desired effect, whether that’s an energy boost or dropping off to sleep
- Choose a blend to diffuse that includes eucalyptus to detoxify the air in your room as well as filling it with scent
- Layer your skincare products with your diffuser or candles to absorb and inhale at the same time
- Combine massaging your essential oil skincare with facial massage to make sure it really penetrates, and gives you a moment of self care too