The Sustenance of Scent

January 26, 2015

The Sustenance of Scent


Authentic scent can heal, create memories, purify the air and manage moods. The sustenance of scent is natures prayer for mind, body and spirit. Every fragrance is unique and every fragrance has a purpose whether we realize it or not. Every fragrance we choose is a fingerprint, if you will, of how well we live our lives. Our choice of fragrance becomes especially important in our homes, our safe haven from the noise and contaminants of the outside world. I'd venture to guess most of us love walking into a home that smells of clean laundry or fresh flowers. We love it because we sense real fragrance and we crave real fragrance. This kind of authentic fragrance is sustenance to the spirit however, the body reacts to it as well. When we understand that synthetic scents fill our homes and our bodies with chlorofluorocarbons and other chemicals we will appreciate the value of real fragrance like pure essential oils, dried herbs, fresh flowers and "a green kind of clean". The science of fragrance is real, as I'm about to explain, we should think twice before using synthetic scents, anywhere. The sustenance of scent! Tracing a path of an essential oil's fragrance through the olfactory system is fascinating, here's the Cliff Notes version. When a fragrance is inhaled, the odor molecules travel up the nose, and are trapped by olfactory membranes. These membranes are very tiny, and well protected by the lining inside the nose. There are approximately 800 million nerve endings, give or take a few, that receive the micro-fine, vaporized oil particles, carrying them along the axon of the nerve fibers and connecting them with the secondary neurons in the olfactory bulb in the brain. Hmmm suddenly that headache triggered by cheap scented candles or perfume makes perfect sense right? Each odor molecule fits like a little puzzle piece into specific receptor-cell sites lining a membrane known as the olfactory epithelium. When it gets stimulated by odor molecules, this lining of nerve cells triggers electrical impulses that are then transported to the limbic system and olfactory sensory nerves at the base of the brain. The olfactory bulb then transmits the impulses to these locations:

  • Gustatory Center - where the sensation of taste is perceived.
  • Amygdala - where emotional memories like fear and trauma are stored
  • Other areas of the limbic system and brain - passing between the pituitary and the pineal glands.

Because the limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance, the fragrance of an essential oil can have big time physiological and psychological effects. Fragrance has the ability to give us comfort, create or recall a memory and, instill feelings of well-being, relaxation and even induce sleep. Let's all agree that a home's signature scent should never be the instigator of headaches, allergies and ozone depletion. Replace as many synthetic fragrances, if not all, with pure essential oils and other natural, sustainable scents. Use them often, let them permeate your carpets, drapes and furniture and purify the air with their pure plant essence. Your home's fragrance footprint will be refreshed and renewed and all who pass through your door will feel and notice the difference in the air they breathe and the fragrance they remember! If you're new to essential oils you'll want to know all about diffusers. I prefer the Ultrasonic-type that produces a cool mist vapor that carries essential oils into the air. A good diffuser and some pure essential oils can kill airborne pathogens and eliminate unpleasant odors by actually changing the molecular structure of the odor, not just masking it. Word to the wise, cheaply produced essential oils are a waste of money in my book. Their benefits mirror their quality.

CW Favorite:


Stimulating Blend:


Hibernation Blend:

Headache Blend: Blend in empty glass bottle, use 8 to 10 drops in the diffuser.

* best if you can relax near your diffuser *

Pine Forest


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