Imagine, stepping into a delicately lit room, where flickering candles are emanating a comforting fragrance and as you take a deep inhalation you experience a profound sense of peace. The realm of scents has the power to unlock emotions, evoke memories, and transport us to a place of serenity.
Scents offer a delightful and effective way to boost mental health, right from relaxation, focus or just an energising uplift, fragrance can be a game-changer.
Aromatherapy has been used for centuries for its healing properties. The essential oils and natural extracts obtained from various plants are renowned for therapeutic properties and is an excellent way to boost mental health and overall well-being. Fragrance substances (aroma/odour/scent) from various natural sources have been used for the treatment of various disorders.
Clinical studies suggest that Essential Oils are effective in treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. The influence of fragrances such as perfumes and room fresheners on the psychophysiological activities of humans has been known for a long time. The sense of smell plays an important role in the physiological effects of mood, stress, and working capacity. Electrophysiological studies have revealed that various fragrances affected spontaneous brain activities and cognitive functions.
In this feature we bring to you the power of fragrance in healing the mind and winning the heart.
What is Aromatherapy?
The aromatherapy treatment is a natural way of healing a person’s mind, body, and soul. Many ancient civilizations like Egypt, China, and India have used aromatherapy as a popular additional and alternative therapy for more than thousands of years.
Essential oils and fragrance compounds have been utilised in traditional medicine, aromatherapy, and herbal medicine to treat a variety of psychological and physical conditions, including headaches, pain, insomnia, eczema, stress-induced anxiety, melancholy, and digestive issues.
The word “aromatherapy” was first used in the 1920s by French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse to describe the use of natural scent essential oils to cure illness and injuries. There are many consumer goods on the market today that have aromatherapy benefits, including candles, perfumes and other personal care items, air fresheners, detergents, etc.
Essential Oils are a promising tool for treatment of chronic inflammation
Especially in chronic inflammatory disorders, essential oils and their main constituents may be used to treat inflammatory diseases.
When the immune system erroneously attacks your body’s own cells or tissues, it results in an inflammatory illness.
The body’s response to tissue damage causes inflammatory diseases, which proceed from acute to chronic inflammation and eventually cause cancer, neurological diseases, and autoimmune disorders if the resolution is insufficient or the stimulus persists.
Essential Oils and their compounds
Essential Oils represent a small fraction of the plant composition. They are liquid mixtures of volatile compounds obtained from aromatic plants. They are responsible to offer qualities that support their usage in the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical applications.
How Essential Oils work on Inflammation
The primary mechanism of action of essential oils and their components is a decrease in reactive oxygen and nitrogen species together with an increase in antioxidant enzymes and a decrease in nuclear factor kappa B (NF-B), which in turn decreases the release of proinflammatory cytokines. Thus, essential oils and their primary components are promising therapeutic agents for the management of chronic inflammation, according to research published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity.
Influence of Fragrances on Human Psychophysiological Activity
In the physiological consequences of mood, stress, and working ability, the sense of smell is crucial. According to a study that was published in Scientia Pharmaceutica, the significance of scents in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical sectors is progressively growing due to their long-known effects on human psychophysiological functions, including those of perfumes and room fresheners.
Composition of fragrance
The olfactory system of humans allows them to detect volatile compounds with molecular weights of less than 300 Da, which make up a fragrance. In humans, a wide family of olfactory receptors with a variety of protein sequences is used by roughly 300 active olfactory receptor genes to detect thousands of distinct scent compounds.
Numerous scents have an impact on cognitive processes and spontaneous brain activity, according to electrophysiological investigations that use an electroencephalograph (EEG). The EEG offers data on the physiological state of the brain in both health and sickness and is a reliable temporal measure of reactions in the central nervous system.
Numerous scientific investigations were undertaken in the previous few decades to investigate how scent inhalation affects how the human brain works. According to the studies, olfactory stimulation significantly affects cognition, emotion, and social behaviour.
What is olfactory process?
The nasal cavity’s olfactory epithelium is where the aromatic molecules in the air connect to the cilia of olfactory receptors during the olfactory process. The G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR) are then activated, resulting in the production of electrical signals. Olfactory sense neurons then provide electrical impulses to the brain through the upper olfactory cortex and olfactory bulb. As a result, these electrical signals influence several aspects of brain activity, such as memory, cognition, and emotion.
Numerous studies show that the inhalation of scents has a significant impact on brain function because the fragrance components can interact with receptors in the central nervous system and penetrate the blood-brain barrier.
Additionally, a large body of research has indicated that the olfactory stimulation of scents causes instantaneous changes in physiological variables like blood pressure, muscle tension, pupil dilation, skin temperature, pulse rate, and brain activity.
How fragrances impact functions
Consumers are exposed to the scent ingredients through everything from skin contact to breathing. Specific molecular characteristics of the fragrance’s constituent parts give them their sensory qualities. It possesses a high enough vapour pressure, little polarity, moderate fat-dissolving potential, and surface activity. Fragrances can be made of single compounds or extremely complex mixes. The molecular weight range of 200 to 300 Da is where most fragrance molecules fall, although even within this range, there are fundamentally a huge number of aromatic components with a wide diversity of molecular shapes. The primary sources of natural scent components include plants, resins, animal secretions, and their metabolites.
Essential oils, which are believed to be a highly concentrated volatile and complex blend of aromatic components collected from various organs of the plant, are the principal medicinal agents among the diverse naturally occurring fragrant components. About 17,500 species of aromatic plants, mostly from the Lamiaceae, Rutaceae, Myrtaceae, Zingiberaceae, and Asteraceae families of angiosperms, produce essential oils. The concentrations of the roughly 20–60 distinct components in the essential oils vary. They have two or three primary components that are present in relatively higher levels (20%–70%) together with several minor components that are present in trace amounts.
How to incorporate Aromatherapy in daily-routine?
You may reap the full rewards of aromatherapy by picking the perfect smell, utilising the right diffuser, setting up a calm environment, and using essential oils in the bath, during massages, and while you’re on the go.
Choosing the right fragrance
“The first step to incorporating aromatherapy into your self-care routine is to choose the right fragrance. Different essential oils have different therapeutic properties. For instance, lavender oil is known for its soothing and calming properties that can help relieve stress and anxiety. However, eucalyptus oil is known for its refreshing and invigorating properties that can help boost energy levels and mental clarity. Therefore, it is essential to choose a fragrance that suits your mood and needs,” Ridhima Kansal, Director at Rosemoore.
Using the right diffuser
Kansal suggested, “Using a diffuser is an excellent way to incorporate fragrances into your self-care routine. Diffusers act as a vehicle that releases the fragrance into the air, making it easy for you to inhale the therapeutic properties of the essential oils. There are different types of diffusers to choose from, such as reed diffusers, nebulizers, electronic diffusers, and ultrasonic diffusers. It is important to choose a diffuser that suits your needs and lifestyle. For instance, if you are always on the go, a portable diffuser might be the best option for you. While if you want to add a touch of sophistication to your living space, a reed diffuser will do.”
She asserts that candles are yet another wonderful option to include aromatherapy in your self-care regimen because scented candles include essential oils that burn with a pleasing fragrance. Candlelight may also produce a quiet and soothing atmosphere, making it ideal for relaxation and stress alleviation.
Essential Oil usage for relaxation
She highlighted, “Using essential oils during massages can help enhance the benefits of the massage and promote relaxation. You can mix a few drops of your favourite essential oil with a carrier oil such as almond oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil and use it as massage oil. This can help relieve muscle tension, reduce inflammation, and promote better sleep quality.”
Anchal Rout, Delhi NCR based Yoga and Reiki healing expert, explained, “Creating a relaxing atmosphere is essential when incorporating aromatherapy into your self-care routine. You can do this by playing soft music or sounds, dimming the lights, and putting on comfortable clothing or loungewear that promotes relaxation. This will help you feel more comfortable and at peace, allowing you to fully enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy.”
She recommended, “Adding essential oils to your bathwater is an excellent way to relax your body and mind. You can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil into the bathwater and soak in it for 15-20 minutes. This can help reduce stress and anxiety, relieve muscle tension, and improve sleep quality. It is important to note that essential oils are highly concentrated and should be diluted before use.”
Help is here:
Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)
Name of the Organisation: Indian Organization for Rare Diseases
(IORD) is an umbrella organization, representing the interests of all rare disease patients, patient support groups, health policy advocates, and health care providers extending support or working in the field of any of the undermentioned rare disease groups.