Scents are more powerful than you might think. We all know that a simple whiff of a smell can trigger memories of places and people, and has the power to evoke strong emotions. But what you might not know is that smells have a significant and direct impact on our bodies through our nervous system.
A quick look at our anatomy actually give at hand that we, as humans, are hardwired to react to scents. The olfactory nerve, that gives us our sense of smell, starts in the nose and enters the skull through tiny holes - directly connected to the brain. This nerve is able to rapidly sends signals to many different parts of the brain, including the limbic system and amygdala - the parts of the brain that are in charge of emotions, mood and memory. These systems also regulate our autonomic nervous system, which can either trigger a fight-or-flight response to a stressful situation, quickening our breath, heart rate and raising our blood pressure, or soothe us through turning on the parasympathetic nervous system to relax our bodies. This helps explaining why scents and odours so quickly triggers physical reactions in our bodies and have lasting effects, long after the actual scent is gone - our sense of smell is in direct connection with the parts of our brain that regulate how we feel. Essential oils like lavender have even been shown to have the same bio-chemical effect as anti-anxiety medicines on certain neuroreceptors. Lavender, lemon and bergamot are a few of the essential oils that are known for reducing stress and anxiety. Others are ylang ylang, sage and jasmin.
So what is the take-away from all this? Well, that using essential oils in for instance your sauna not only smells nice, but can actually have a profound effect on your health and wellbeing.