Essential oils primarily enter the human body through skin absorption and inhalation.
We begin to understand the power of essential oils when we study the nature of the chemical components within the plants each oil comes from.
Essential Oils have tiny molecules, which disperse into the air (especially when diffused) and enter through the nose. When inhaled, the scent molecules reach the olfactory epithelium, which consists of millions of receptor cells located at the top of the nostrils, just below and between the eyes.
Odors are then converted to messages, which are converted and relayed to the brain for processing. Inhalation provides the most direct route to the brain.
With every breath, some scent molecules inescapably travel to the lungs. Some molecules are absorbed by the mucous lining of the respiratory pathway. Other molecules reach the alveoli and are transferred into the bloodstream.
Therefore, inhalation of essential oils not only has an effect on emotions but also has a physical impact.
Essential oil molecules are so small that when applied to the skin; they are able to pass through the outer layer of skin, the stratum corneum. From here the essential oil molecule passes through the dermis, into the capillaries, and into the bloodstream.
Absorption also occurs through the hair follicles and sweat ducts. There are many factors that affect the absorption of an essential oil molecule.
For example, both the rate of circulation and the warmth of the skin increase blood flow to the surface, therefore increasing the skin’s ability to absorb the oil.
Permeability of the skin is a factor in how essential oils are absorbed. Thinner skin, such as behind the ears and the inside of the wrists are very permeable.
The palms of the hands and feet, armpits and scalp will more readily absorb oil molecules than the arms, legs, belly, back, etc.
Oils are also easily absorbed through cuts, scrapes, and abrasions, burns, eczema, etc.
Clean skin pores that are free of dirt also improves absorption.
Another factor to consider when applying E.O.'s to our skin is the viscosity of the carrier oil in which the E.O. is diluted.
Sweet Almond, Fractionated Coconut Oil, and Grapeseed oil are less viscous and penetrate the skin easily. Thicker oils such as Avocado or Olive Oil do not offer the best penetration level.
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