Dr. Lisa Rankin


This article was written on 23 Sep 2015, and is filled under Brain Mat, coastal integrative medicine, LisaRankin.

And the Noses have it…..



Have you ever smelled something and then had a flood of memories releated to that smell? Most of us have experienced that and for good reason. The olfactory bulb which is the sense organ for our sense of smell is stimulated by electrical signals which are triggered by the binding of odorant molecules that we inhale. These may be from a pleasant smell like a flower or home cooking or something less pleasant like dirty socks or a not so clean diaper. There is often an immediate, visceral response. The emotional response may make you laugh, cry or vomit. This happens because after the olfactory bulb is electrically stimulated more connections are made with other parts of the brain, especially the limbic system, which is involved with emotions.image

This explains why essential oils and aromatherapy work from a scientific standpoint. They actually do more than just smell good. The other factor that makes inhalation of oils so efficient is the thin nasal mucosa and it’s high concentration of blood vessels. If you have ever had a nosebleed you understand this well. This means that that inhaled molecules are very easily absorbed into the blood vessels and make their way quickly into the brain and the rest of the ┬ábody. There are RX meds that take advantage of this such as Imitrex for migraines and Versed which is used as part of the presurgical anesthesia. There are also plenty of illegal substances whose main delivery system is nasal inhalation. Remember the OD scene in Pulp Fiction?

If you are using essential oils in order to have an impact on a brain related function such as sleep, anxiety, mood, focus and more nasal inhalation will be a much more efficient mechanism of delivery. Diffusers can work but unless you stand over it and sniff it will still not be as effective as directly inhaling into a nostril. This can easily be accomplished by sniffing directly from the essential oil bottle or using a device similar to the old school Vicks inhalers. These have a wick and you can put a few drops of the oil on it. The other great thing about this method of use is that it makes it much easier for a child to take to school and use. Topical application often allows for those around to smell the oils. With direct nasal inhalation no other noses are involved.


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