“Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once.”
-Diane Ackerman in ‘A Natural History of the Senses’.
The human nose is an amazing instrument. Every single day we use it to inhale and exhale an average of 23,000 times. Every breath pulls fragrant molecules out of the air, carries them into our nostrils and delivers their messages to our olfactory systems.
Every cycle causes a chain-reaction of events. It begins with an object releasing odor molecules into the air that eventually get swept into the nose, where they float down onto the olfactory nerves and send out their smelly messages to the limbic system of the brain, where our memories and emotions reside.
That is why, whenever you smell the warm aroma of a golden, freshly baked loaf of bread, you might remember that small bakery you used to run to everyday as a child, or reminisce about your grandma’s home-made baguette.
Apart from that, the limbic system also includes a complex structure known as the hypothalamus, which is a control area that regulates our internal state. This is where the sweet smell of aromatherapy drifts into the picture, as it is this process that provides the therapeutic foundation for using different fragrances to treat psoriasis.
Aromatherapy and Psoriasis: The Lock & Key
Aromatherapy is an ancient art that aims to heal the body through different scents. It is a tradition whose scent has perfumed the history of human civilization.
Its smell can be followed to ancient India; entire temples were made out of aromatic sandalwood, and Vedic texts contain references to the uses of different essential oils. Drifting a little more to the East, aromatherapy had an early start in 2000 BC, when Emperor Kwang-Ti of China first wrote about the healing powers of pomegranate, opium and rhubarb. Other exotic essences also permeated the air, with jasmine and cinnamon both originating from China.
In fact, the use of aromatherapy can be traced to every age and every civilization – from the Greeks, to the Romans (who stored their Chanel-equivalents in bottled oils called unguentariums) and onto Arabia, where the art reached a whole new level as the process of distillation was perfected.
But how does it work? Every molecule of an essential oil has its own unique shape. As we inhale, it is swept along the olfactory epithelium until it falls into its specific place, just like a key in a lock. When this happens, it unlocks a door, and a chemical message is sent to the brain, which releases its own neurotransmitters that order the body to react in different ways.
By using particular essential oils for psoriasis, we’re sending our skin different messages such as “stop producing so many skin cells” and “can you itch less, please?”
To keep reading about aromatherapy and psoriasis, check out our article on The 6 Best Essential Oils For Psoriasis.