How Do Essential Oils Work


It is wonderful that essential oils exist, but how do they get to us and how do we utilize them? There are three common ways – Inhalation (breath them in), absorption (the skin soaks them in) and internal ingestion (swallowed – ingested orally, usually in capsule, or in suppository form).


As our largest organ, the skin protects the inside of the body from the external world. This boundary also aids the body to eliminate waste and regulate our temperature.

Our skin cells are lipophilic, meaning they are attracted to and can absorb lipids (fats). Essential oils especially when they have been blended with an oil or butter has a small enough molecular structure to efficiently make it through the layers of our skin or travel down a hair follicle. Once past this protective boundary, a network of capillaries is ready to absorb the chemical components and transport them throughout the body in the bloodstream.

Absorption of essential oils through the skin is healing for the localized area as well as a benefit to the whole body.


Inhalation and exhalation are essential to life. Each time we do this, we bring tiny molecules into our bodies. Molecules are minuscule particles that are larger than an atom, but smaller than a cell. Some sustain us, like oxygen, while others are exhaled, but not before they are absorbed into our bodies. After the breath is taken, molecules enter through the mouth or nose, they come into contact with the mucus membranes lining our respiratory system, they are absorbed by the capillaries and carried through our bloodstream. While in the bloodstream, they pass through our organs and later are filtered through the kidneys. The filtered blood heads back to the lungs where the waste can be exhaled.

The molecules with a scent or an odor that pass through the nose take an additional adventure. They pass over and are recognized or read by the Olfactory Epithelium. This small area deep within each nostril passes the molecule/message from the receptor to the smaller individual nerve and on to the Olfactory Nerv. This road leads directly to the brain. Molecules or scent/odor/aroma have almost instantaneous access to the brain, more accurately to the Limbic system controlling the Hypothalamus (pituitary gland where hormones are regulated) and the Cerebral Cortex (store and process memories, emotions, complex thoughts, etc.)

Inhalation of essential oils is valuable for quick absorption into the bloodstream, treating a respiratory infection or congestion and to target the Central Nervous System.

In short, essential oils that are inhaled can have a powerful impact on the body, mind, and emotions.


Using oils internally is an ancient method that has been used for thousands of years to treat a specific area of concern that can only be met by ingesting the essential oil. Keep in mind that you only need a drop or two at a time to reap the benefits of the oil due to their high concentration levels.

Here are some of the main reasons why you would use an essential oil internally.

  • First, to support the immune system and its function. The immune system is our number one defense against outside threats. Many oils are good for maintaining your immune system when taken internally.
  • Next, is for supporting the health of the respiratory system. Some essential oils may surprise you, but their internal benefits help the respiratory system for a variety of reasons depending on each individual person and what they’re treating. They also help the respiratory system particularly when seasonal threats are high when the seasons are changing or when traveling to an unfamiliar area.
  • Supports the cardiovascular system. It is very beneficial to your health to take good care of your cardiovascular system. As you may remember from school, the cardiovascular system is responsible for transporting oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and cellular waste throughout your body. The engine of it all is the heart, the body’s hardest-working organ. Using essential oils internally can give the extra support our heart needs.
  • To aid in the normal digestive process. Our digestive systems serve us by taking in nutrients, eliminating waste, and absorbing and using the nutrients we eat. The digestive system is constantly at work for us. Adding a few drops of certain essential oils can help regulate and balance your system.
  • Supports and Calms your nervous system. From your brain to your nerves, the nervous system is understandably quite complex. In addition to getting good sleep, providing vital nutrients, and getting exercise, essential oils can help support the nervous system which will lead to a stronger nervous system

It’s important that no matter what avenue you choose when using essential oils it’s vital to do your research and consult with a physician.