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The Olfactory Link

By Maisha Liwaru

  Our sense of smell allows us to distinguish between the smell of an onion and the smell of a rose.  The lining of the nose contains cells with act as receivers, which pass on information to the olfactory bulb.  This information is then organized into patterns and the brain uses the information to recognize thousands of odors.  The olfactory system is vital.

Scientists are just starting to appreciate and study the olfactory system as it relates to human emotion and behavior.  The olfactory system is primal and is associated with instinct.  Many animals are only able to communicate using their sense of smell.  The limbic system, which affects the part of the brain that governs emotion, behavior and memory storage works directly with the olfactory system.  In addition, the olfactory system effect conscious thought.  Our sense of taste would be seriously diminished without the sense of smell.  Thoughts, emotion and behavior are directly linked to the olfactory system.

Just as there are primary taste, sweet, sour, bitter and salty, and primary colors, red, green and blue, there are primary smells.  They number, however in the hundreds. The sense of smell is very complex.

Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils to improve our quality of life rely heavily on the olfactory system.  While many essential oils access the body through the pores by direct application to the skin, the nose is the main pathway. The access is swift because the receptive cells in the nose are an extension of the brain.

Researchers are just starting to scratch the surface. The boundaries of the uses of essential oils seem limitless, at this point.  Perhaps, in the future, as a result of scientific research, such situations as amnesia and coma may be treated by aromatherapy. Aroma therapists, dating back to the first century A.D. have proclaimed a connection between memory, concentration basil, peppermint, rosemary and other potent essential oil odors.

In general, there is a correlation between the area of the plant the essential oil is derived from and its usefulness to the human body:

  • Flower - nervous system (emotions)

  • Fruit - elimination (digestion)

  • Leaf      - respiration (metabolism and balance)

  • Truck    - support – Spine (fatigue)

  • Root      - assimilation (stabilizing)

  • Seed      - digestion (grounding)

Often, basic temperament and personality traits cause susceptibility to physical and/or emotional abnormalities.  By identifying our temperament type and personality traits, we may be able to prevent potential health problems by introducing the right fragrances into our lives.

Temperament, for the purpose of aromatherapy, is divided into cold, which is spiritual, or hot, which is earthy, wet, which is deliberate or dry which is impulsive. Subdivisions include intuitive, sensing, introvert, extrovert, and feeling, thinking perceptive and judgmental.  Of course, we all have bits and pieces of the temperament types and their subdivisions but our core can present itself through self-investigation.

Personality traits are phlegmatic, melancholic, sanguine and choleric. The phlegmatic personality is imaginative, a helper, a listener and emotional.  The melancholic is a planner, changer, thinker and perfectionist.  The sanguine personality is practical, harmonized, a taller, and popular.  And last, the choleric is analytical, a manager, a worker and is powerful.

The mind, body and spirit can benefit from essential oils based on temperament and personality.  For example, the phlegmatic personality could benefit by the use of cedar wood, grapefruit, and cypress. Phlegmatic personalities are thought to be prone to urinary tract infection, respiratory problems, acne, and dandruff. They are nervous and tense and easily stressed.  Cedar is indicated for these problems.  Grapefruit is used to alleviate their poor circulation and distract from depression.  Cypress is indicated to improve circulation, cut down on fluid retention, calm and aid in concentration among other things.

As mentioned above, essential oils can be introduced into the body through the nose or skin.  When applied to the skin, carrier oil must be used because of the concentration of essential oils.  One of the best carrier oils is emu oil because the skin absorbs it so easily.  

More general uses, of essential oils for temperament and personality benefits, will follow in my next article.

Maisha Liwaru is the owner and CEO of  Perfume Oils by Maisha



        Emu's Zine does not diagnose, prescribe or dispense medical advice.  We report and attempt to educate the public about the possible health benefits derived through the use of emu oil based products and consumption of low cholesterol, low fat emu meat.   This site contains personal testimonies and professional observations.   We encourage people to contact their family physicians regarding any health problems they may have for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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