It’s normal and healthy to feel a spectrum and range of moods and emotions in one day; one minute you’re happy, the next you’re sad or frustrated, these feelings and moods are all valid and healthy emotions. Using functional fragrance like essential oils as part of your daily routine helps you get in tune with your different moods and emotions.
Essential oils have a direct impact on our brain’s biochemistry, and possess the ability to uplift us or calm us. Lemon for example has been proven to boost focus, while the sedating properties in eucalyptus are proven to have a calming effect on the brain. Vellum’s Mental Essentials collection of essential oils focuses specifically on the mood enhancing properties of essential oils, and to take the guesswork out of your wellness routine, we identified and placed the mental benefit of each oil right on the front of the bottle to better understand how the oil can help transform your mood.
Aromatherapy uses plant extracts to alter our mental and physical state. You can reap the mental benefits of essential oils primarily through inhalation (diffusing), or through topical skin application with the use of base oils.
Essential oils are potent, concentrated plant derivatives (obtained through methods such as cold press extraction or steam distillation), and when our bodies come into contact with essential oils, we absorb the antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties present in this plant matter. These different antimicrobials, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties are what helps keep our bodies healthy, protecting us from cold and flu and other physical ailments.
When applying topically to the skin, the small molecular size of the essential oils allows the oils to permeate the skin and enter the bloodstream, where they have an impact on our body for up to 20 minutes. Using aromatherapy along with massage therapy allows us to tackle ailments such as joint and muscle pain.
When we inhale essential oils, the aroma molecules travel up our olfactory pathway, to our brain’s limbic system, where emotion and memory is stored. Lavender oil, for example has anticonvulsant, antidepressive, anxiolytic, sedative and calming properties, and when we use lavender oil, we begin to feel the impact it has on our nervous system.
For functional fragrance to be aromatherapy, it must be 100% pure essential oil, with no additives. Often time, essential oils are commonly mixed with base oils (ie vegetable oils such as almond oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil) to make them safe for topical use – this is still considered aromatherapy, as the base oil is also natural (vegetable derivatives) and often cold expressed (not processed), and is a safe way of applying essential oils directly to the skin. Essential oils are extremely potent and concentrated and should always be used diluted when applying to the skin.
The more processed an essential oil is, the more it begins to lose its therapeutic benefits. Aromachology is simply about the psychological effects scent has on the brain, whereas aromatherapy (a subset of aromachology), is specifically about the therapeutic benefits pure, natural essential oils have on the brain. When reading labels, if it says ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance’ under the ingredients list, it’s a pretty clear indicator that it contains a synthetic fragrance and is not a 100% essential oil, meaning the product will have a pleasant aroma, but will not deliver the same therapeutic benefits of essential oils.
Aromatherapy has been used throughout the years to help ease both physical and psychological pain. Ancient cultures from India, China and Egypt all used essential oils for medicinal, spiritual and cosmetic purposes.
Functional fragrance like essential oils are tools for creating a self-care process, and while lavender won’t cure a diagnosed anxiety disorder, it will certainly help with relieving every day feelings of anxiousness. We liken it to going for a run – going for a run won’t be the cure for obesity, but rather it will serve as a tool to help fight obesity in conjunction with other tools such as proper nutrition, etc. Essential oils won’t cure any ailments over night, but when used daily as part of a self-care process, they begin to do wonders for our moods, our mental state, and our physical bodies.
To learn more about functional fragrance, check out our interview with NYLON Magazine.