Aromatherapy: The science and therapy of smell

If the merest whiff of lavender reminds you of your grandmother, or the scent of orange blossom and jasmine instantly transports you back to the beach as a kid with a bottle of Coppertone, you’re not alone. Olfactory memories are powerful reflexes and happen thanks to our limbic system.

The limbic system refers to the interconnected structures in our brains that control our basic instincts, emotions, memories, hormones, heart rate, blood pressure and physical stimuli. Ultimately, the limbic system has kept humans alive and ensured our survival.

When we smell nan's lavender the scent molecules stimulate our limbic system and the comforting emotional response that we associate with it even before the aroma connects to the memory. 

Aromatherapy, or the therapeutic use of plant-derived aromatic compounds for holistic healing, works precisely because of these emotional responses. Your reaction to an odour happens instantaneously because the limbic system is responsible for those primitive instincts - the ones that kept our ancestors alive. The olfactory response to smell stimulates the brain to release hormones and neurochemicals that alter our physiology and behaviour. 

Curiously, smell registers with the brain faster than sound or sight, so human survival once relied on this sense.

While it’s not new science, the scientific proof that inhaling essential oils can affect our mood is now irrefutable.

So at Corbin Rd. when it came to choosing an essential oil for our Restorative Cleansing Balm, we wanted an essential oil that, when used at the end of every day, would become part of an enduring and very special ritual to prepare for sleep. We chose geranium oil for the calming, balancing effects that open up when the balm warm is warmed in your hands. It's a moment to pause and inhale before massaging onto your face for a deep, hydrating cleanse. 

The work of essential oils is twofold. Along with their mood altering abilities at inhalation, when used topically (they must always be diluted), they can also help improve the skin’s physical condition. As well as wonderfully balancing, geranium oil rejuvenates skin, and its anti-fungal properties aid in treating blemishes.

A lot of science has gone into the restorative side of our balm. So next time you smell our geranium-scented Restorative Cleansing Balm, you’ll understand why we called it just that, because it is.

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