The olfactory system is the structure of the body responsible for our sense of smell.
It starts in the nose and continues into the brain, where smells are processed and can influence mood and behavior.
When you smell an essential oil the aromas work their way through the olfactory system all the way to the brain, via chemical processes.
There are millions of chemical receptors located in the nose that detect odors and send signals to olfactory bulbs, where those signals are sent along olfactory tracts to the olfactory cortex of the brain
The olfactory cortex in the temporal lobe of the brain is where the processing of these aromas happens and it’s also part of the limbic system, which is responsible for the processing of our emotions, survival instincts and memory formation.
The limbic system contains the hippocampus, hypothalamus and amygdala. The structures in the brain responsible for forming emotional responses and memories, indexing and storing memories, and regulating emotional responses.
Inhaling essential oils for aroatherapy is thought to be able to influence emotions and memories due to the direct connection that the olfactory system has to the limbic system.
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