Benefits of Burning Scented Candles

The Science of Aromatherapy and How It Works on the Brain

Updated: March 22, 2023

Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that uses essential oils extracted from plants to promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. These oils are highly concentrated and contain the natural fragrance and healing properties of the plant from which it is extracted. Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years to treat various ailments, including stress, anxiety, depression, and even physical pain.

How Aromatherapy Works on the Brain

The sense of smell is closely linked to the brain’s limbic system, which controls emotions, memories, and behavior. When we inhale essential oils, the scent molecules travel through the nasal passages and stimulate the olfactory receptors. These receptors send signals to the limbic system, which then releases neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.

These neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating our mood, emotions, and pain perception. For example, lavender essential oil has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Peppermint oil can help increase alertness and concentration by stimulating the brain’s prefrontal cortex.

Popular Essential Oils Used in Aromatherapy

There are many different essential oils used in aromatherapy, each with its unique properties and benefits. Here are a few popular ones:

  • Eucalyptus: Known for its respiratory benefits, eucalyptus oil can help relieve congestion and improve breathing.
  • Lavender: One of the most popular essential oils, lavender has a calming effect on the mind and body. It can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Sage: This herb is known for its cleansing properties and can help purify the air. It also has a grounding effect on the mind.
  • Jasmine: This exotic floral oil is known for its uplifting properties. It can help boost mood and reduce stress.
  • Lemongrass: With its fresh citrusy scent, lemongrass oil is energizing and invigorating. It can help improve focus and concentration.
  • Rosemary: This herbaceous oil can help improve memory and cognitive function. It also has a stimulating effect on the mind.
  • Patchouli: Known for its earthy aroma, patchouli oil can help promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
  • Peppermint: This refreshing oil can help improve mental clarity and alertness. It is also useful for relieving headaches.


Aromatherapy is a simple yet effective way to promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Whether you’re looking to reduce stress or improve concentration, there’s an essential oil out there that can help. By harnessing the power of scent, you can tap into the brain’s natural ability to regulate mood, emotions, and pain perception. So next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try diffusing some lavender or peppermint essential oil and see how it makes you feel!