girl smelling flowers

So, you've heard people say that essential oils can help with all kinds of things. You hear that essential oils can help you live above the wellness line, both physically and emotionally.

And you just can't see HOW that is possible.

Today, we're going to look at the emotional aspects of our bodies, and how scent can affect your body's natural responses to various situations.'s the science (*):

Limbic system brain map labeled diagram

Limbic System

  • Our emotions are housed in what is caused the limbic system.
  • The olfactory bulb lies at the top of our sinus cavity and detects odors.
  • The olfactory bulb is a direct extension of the brain and extends into the limbic system (remember, where all the emotions are processed)
  • When we smell something, the first area of the brain to be stimulated is the amygdala.
  • The amygdala is what triggers our natural fight, flight or freeze response. It is our panic button, so to say.
  • All of these things are connected.
  • So smells trigger our brain that something is safe or that it isn't.
  • Wait! There's more...
  • Smell famously triggers memory (think, when you smell cookies, you are immediately reminded of something from your childhood, etc)
  • Why? Well, guess what is also connected to all of the above? The hippocampus. And guess what forms there? Yep. You've got it. Your memories! Are you seeing a pattern here?


Just a couple of more tidbits:

A study from the University of Pennsylvania Smell and Taste center showed that "patients who have lost their sense of smell are frequently sad." (1)

According to Rachel Herz, a leader in the field of smell research, people with a disturbed sense of smell often report a loss of interest in normally pleasurable pursuits, feelings of sadness, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, loss of motivation and more. (2)

So, that my friends, is why we are drawn or repelled to smells in such emotional ways.

One of my favorite scents, that triggers emotion every time, is that first couple of days the weather has cooled down and the leaves are changing colors. Those days ALWAYS remind me of football, the fair and Halloween, which all have happy memories tied to them in my mind.

What smells trigger memories (good or bad) for you? List them below!

*The Aroma Freedom Technique by Dr. Benjamin Perkus

(1)  and (2) cited in ARF book

Written by Shay Rafferty
I help families shift to living live a life of wellness and abundance by using natural, plant-based products.