Essential oils (EOs) are “volatile” compounds found in plants. Volatile means that it evaporates quickly into a vapor. These biochemical compounds come from various parts of a plant. They come from the bark (like cinnamon), the leaves (like spearmint), flowers (like lavender or geranium), roots (like ginger), seeds (like fennel), the rind (like lemon or orange), needles (like spruce), or from resin (like frankincense). The plants use these compounds either for protection or for communication. The essential oils can be extracted by distillation and can have similar effects for people.

The chemical compounds in EOs can stimulate or calm the nervous system. One way they do this is through their aroma and our body’s response via the olfactory system. When breathed in, they stimulate receptors in the nose that send chemical messages through nerves to the brain’s limbic system. This affects moods and emotions, and may have some physiological effects on the body, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The other way EOs work has nothing to do with aroma. When used on the skin, the oils are absorbed into the bloodstream. Then the chemical particles disperse and can work to regulate organs and systems. This regulation occurs through the nervous system. Essential Oils are typically not used for their nutritional value, they are used similar to herbs, providing direction for the body to induce, subdue, or soothe and support a particular function.

Therefore, EOs are not a substitute for other bodily needs. They do not replace raw materials that your body needs to function – like vitamins, minerals, probiotics, healthy fats, amino acids, etc. They work to direct the body to properly utilize building blocks and metabolic processes within for a healthy, functioning system.

To learn more about using essential oils, contact Dr. Wakefield at