It is wonderful that essential oils exist, but how do they get to us and how do we utilize them? There are three common ways – Inhalation (breath them in), absorption (the skin soaks them in) and internal ingestion (swallowed – ingested orally, usually in capsule, or in suppository form).
Inhalation and exhalation are essential to life. Each time we do this, we bring tiny molecules into our bodies. Molecules are miniscule particles that are larger than an atom, but smaller than a cell. Some sustain us, like oxygen, while others are exhaled, but not before they are absorbed into our bodies. After the breath is taken, molecules enter through the mouth or nose, they come into contact with the mucus membranes lining our respiratory system, they are absorbed by the capillaries and carried through our blood stream. While in the blood stream, they pass through our organs and later are filtered through the kidneys. The filtered blood heads back to the lungs where the waste can be exhaled.
The molecules with a scent or an odor that pass through the nose take an additional adventure. They pass over and are recognized or read by the Olfactory Epithelium. This small area deep with in each nostril passes the molecule/message from the receptor to the smaller individual nerve and on to the Olfactory Nerve… This road leads directly to the brain. Molecules or scent/odor/aroma have almost instantaneous access to the brain—more accurately to the Limbic system controlling the Hypothalamus (pituitary gland where hormones are regulated) and the Cerebral Cortex (store and process memories, emotions, complex thoughts, etc.)
Inhalation of essential oils is valuable for quick absorption into the blood stream, treating a respiratory infection or congestion and to target the Central Nervous System.
In short, essential oils that are inhaled can have a powerful impact on the body, mind and emotions.
As our largest organ, the skin protects the inside of the body from the external world. This boundary also aids the body eliminate waste and regulate our temperature.
Our skin cells are lipophilic, meaning they are attracted to and can absorb lipids (fats). Essential oils especially when they have been blended with an oil or butter have a small enough molecular structure to efficiently make it through the layers of our skin or travel down a hair follicle. Once past this protective boundary, a network of capillaries are ready to absorb the chemical components and transport them throughout the body in the blood stream.
Absorption of essential oils through the skin is healing for the localized area as well as a benefit to the whole body.
While some are well versed and have received extensive training, such as the French, in how to dose and administer essential oils for internal use, it is not the case in the United States.