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Methods of Delivering Essential Oils for Aromatherapy

There are three primary psychological functions of essential oils: stimulant, relaxant, and regulatory oils. Olfaction of essential oils is typically used to promote psychological balance and well-being, as well as to treat various mental and emotional conditions. Essential oils have been found to be highly effective in managing mood disorders, including anxiety, depression, PMS, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, they are known to aid in supporting mental well-being, addressing issues such as loss of cognitive function, poor concentration, impaired memory, distractibility, and schizoid-psychotic states.

There are two delivery methods for olfactory use of essential oils, (i) by mild inhalation (direct olfaction) and (ii) by ambient diffusion (indirect olfaction).

Direct olfaction by mild inhalation.

Essential oils can be inhaled directly from the bottle, a few drops on a tissue, a cotton-wool ball, or from a drop placed on the palm. Olfaction of essential oils should be discontinued if the aroma is found unpleasant. Direct olfaction is typically used when an individual is on the move, for example, in cars, planes, trains, or public places, providing feelings of refreshment, uplift, energy, or relaxation, depending on the chosen oils.

Direct olfaction is the method of choice for acute conditions, where it can act quickly, particularly if done regularly with the right oils selected. Various essential oils suitable for acute conditions are explained in the table below:

Essential oils

Type of Aroma


​Bergamot, Grapefruit, Mandarin, Lemongrass


Reduce anxiety, frustration, balancing mood, uplift, creating alertness and optimism.

Lavender, Lavandin, Blue Tansy (in dilution), Roman Chamomile (in dilution), Sambac Jasmine Absolute (in dilution)


First-aid worth in thorny travel situations, especially unexpected and traumatic experiences. Reduce acute anger and frustration.

Geranium, Rose Absolute, Helichrysum, Jasmine Absolute


Reduce acute anxiety and worry.

​Lavender, Clary Sage, Marjoram, Hyssop


Reduce acute racing mind and nervous tension.

Peppermint, Niaouli, Rosemary, Ravintsara, Black Spruce


Reduce acute brain fog or stupor.

Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Siam Wood, Myrrh, Patchouli


Reduce acute worry, obsession, or compulsion.

​Vetiver, Dong Quai, Lovage Root, Spikenard


Reduce acute manic elation or dissociation.

Rosemary, Saro, Green Myrtle, Spike Lavender


Reduce acute grief or sadness.

Typically, inhaling essential oils for three breath cycles results in increasing physiological absorption, while inhaling essential oils for more than three to eight breath cycles can produce olfactory and physiological effects in acute situations.

Please be aware that the olfactory and physiological effects of essential oils may vary.

For instance, an essential oil rich in green-lemony aldehydes, such as lemongrass, can have different effects. Through olfaction, it may promote alertness, good judgment, and optimism, while through physiological absorption, it can induce a calming effect on the nervous system, leading to drowsiness and overall relaxation—effects that are quite contrary to its olfactory impact. Hence, recognizing the potential disparity between the olfactory and physiological absorption of each essential oil can serve as a valuable guide for practitioners in selecting the most appropriate oil.

Indirect olfaction by ambient diffusion

In addition to directly inhaling essential oils, diffusing them using diffusers or nebulizers can also stimulate the olfactory senses. The ambient diffusion of the right oils can create a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere in a room, enhancing well-being, reducing unpleasant odors, helping to balance mental-emotional conditions, reducing ambient microbial loads, and even preventing chronic upper and lower respiratory infections.

Below, we describe several types of essential oils and their effects when diffused:

Essential oils

​Type of Aroma


​Bergamot, Nerolina, Red mandarin, Palmarosa, Lemongrass


​Welcoming scents in a work environment.

​Lemon, grapefruit, cedarwood, patchouli


Masking bad odors.

​Rose Absolute, Geranium, Helichrysum, Cedarwood, Sandalwood

Rosy-sweet and sweet-woody

​Promote mental-emotional stability.

​Eucalyptus, Niaouli, Cajeput, Ravinstara, Thyme ct. Thymol

​Fresh pungent oils that high in 1,8-cineole and monoterpenes

​Sanitizing a space by reducing its microbial load, maintain respiratory functions.

For more information about essential oils, please contact us at or send us a message here.


Holmes, P. (2019). Aromatica Volume 2 ([edition unavailable]). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Retrieved from (Original work published 2019)


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