how essential oils work:
When applied topically, essential oils can penetrate the skin and travel throughout the entire body within minutes because they have a complex lipid-soluble structure similar to the cells in our bodies and the molecules of essential oils are extremely small.
Understanding the chemistry of essential oils explains how and why they work. (Chapter 2 of the Essential Oils Pocket Reference or Essential Oils Desk Reference and The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple by David Stewart Ph.D, D.N.M. are great references and one of our favorite resources.) Essential oils are made up of 200-500 different bioconstituents that are grouped into 14 categories. Different combinations of constituents have different effects on the body. For example, Sesquiterpenes, are a category of constituents that help with inflammation, and balancing emotions and mental wellness. Oils high in Sesquiterpenes include: Cedarwood, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Ginger, Veitiver, Blue Cypress and Myrrh. Constituents called Phenols found in Clove, Cinnamon and Basil, are believed to inhibit bacteria and infection and help support the immune system.
These constituents that make up essential oils determine the purity and quality of the oil. Young Living has developed standards and testing that ensure the quality of the oils from the seed to the seal (Seed to Seal Guarantee) to preserve the delicate components in the oil thus creating a potent, therapeutic-grade oil with all of the medicinal properties intact. You can learn more about Seed to Seal at
Essential oils have a powerful effect on our mind, body and emotional state when aromatic molecules are inhaled. Our sense of smell is the only one of our five senses that transmits impulses to a part of our brain called the limbic system. In the limbic lobe of the brain lies the amygdala, referred to as ‘the seat of our emotions’ since anxiety, fear, anger, depression and joy originate here. Smelling a fragrance can unconsciously trigger past memories and emotions. The aromatic use of essential oils activates another area of the brain, the hypothalamus which regulates our hormones. Diffusing essential oils like Peppermint stimulate the hypothalamus in a way that makes us feel satiated or full after a meal, helping with weight loss.
The Olfactory System
The olfactory system includes all physical organs or cells relating to, or contributing to, the sense of smell. When we inhale through the nose, airborne molecules interact with the olfactory organs and, almost immediately, the brain.
Molecules inhaled through the nose or mouth are also carried to the lungs and interact with the respiratory system. Thus, inhaled essential oils can affect the body through several systems and pathways.
Interaction with the Limbic System (Emotional Brain)
During inhalation, odor molecules travel through the nose and affect the brain through a variety of receptor sites, one of which is the limbic system, which is commonly referred to as the "emotional brain."
The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance (Higley & Higley, 1998). This relationship helps explain why smells often trigger emotions. Knowing this, we can hypothesize how inhalation of essential oils can have some very profound physiological and psychological effects!
Therapeutic-grade Young Living essential oils are safe, effective, easy to use and can have a profound effect on our health and well-being.