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A Peak at Anatomy and Essential Oils

by Rehne Burge, C.A.

Have you ever wondered where it all started? How did we discover the circulatory system and how it functions? And what does that have to do with essential oils? It has everything to do with them For essential oils to be effective, the must first enter the blood stream (circulatory system).

Anatomy has been recorded as the oldest known of medical science. And through the history of anatomy, there have been many theories, a great deal mostly inaccurate or simply wrong, explaining anatomy and physiology. These theories, some dreamed up, were by physicians, surgeons, quacks, witch doctors, alchemists, faith-healers, astrologers, and charlatans. These professionals in their day were for the most part highly paid and respected “professionals”.

Hippocrates, also noted as the Father of Medicine, was the most famous and well known of them all. His knowledge of internal medicine was remarkable, although limited due to the lack of dissections. Based on his history, Hippocrates could be said to be the father of holistic medicine.

There have been brilliant discoveries and true clear thinking that has brought us to what we now know as modern medicine.

Moving forward, it was an English doctor named William Harvey that showed that blood circulated around the body and further proposed that the heart pumped the blood through the arteries and understood the significance of the valves of the heart. Although many thought this to be outlandish, his findings were confirmed by the invention of the microscope in the late 17th century. This allowed scientists for the first time in history to be able to observe so much more than what the naked eye could reveal.

By the 19th century, practices and procedures were able to be performed with anesthetics. In 1896 the first x ray machine was invented. Soon after, the first MRI came about. Prior to these inventions, many dissections and crude methods were used.

Now we can study and learn the human body more freely. By understanding it, we can better understand and learn how the body and specifically the circulatory system and aromatherapy work hand in hand. And how it can benefit the body. The chemical components that make up essential oils are so small and is why they can enter the skin.

The lymphatic system, a part of the circulatory system, has its own important function of draining access fluid from the tissues of the body and filtering out bad bacteria as well as producing lymphocytes to fight off infection. The lymphatic system runs up the body. However, the circulatory system flows in both directions; up and down the body and includes the arterial circulation, CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) a clear watery substance, and pulmonary function.

The arterial system carries blood from our heart to provide nourishment as well as oxygen to the organs and tissues of the body. The CSF is part of the central nervous body system and surrounds the brain as well as the spinal cord. The cerebrospinal fluids job is to protect the brain and spinal cord from injuries. It also cushions the organs of the body. The nervous system is divided into two parts, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). It consists of 12 pairs of cranial nerves which emerge from the brain stem and 31 pairs of spinal nerves which arise from the spinal cord. The nervous system includes the neurons, the myelin sheath, the peripheral nerves, the autonomic nervous system and the parasympathetic system.

The pulmonary system (respiratory) is located within the lungs. The vessels extend from the heart to the lungs. Its function is to deliver de-oxygenated blood to the lungs. Here it is re-oxygenated and removes the waste of carbon dioxide. It enables blood to come in contact with the function structures of the lungs called the alveoli and this allows the gaseous exchange to take place.

So how does essential oils work with the body? As mentioned above, certain components from essential oils have the ability to enter in through the dermis (skin). And there are some components that will with a little "push" from those (cicatrisants) able to be absorbed into the body. And then some components simply are too large to enter through the body. Once they enter the body, they must cross the blood brain barrier and make their into the brain. Once essential oils are absorbed into the circulatory system, whether topically or through olfaction (inhalation), we can see how and why the essential oil components that have entered the blood can affect our central nervous system and other functions of the body with each action depending on the oil(s) and its components.

Knowing how intimately essential oils interact with our anatomy gives a clearer picture as to why safety guidance should always be a priority when using these lovely oils. Please keep in mind that not all essential oils are safe. Nature does not dictate safety as we know. Bee's sting. snakes bite, poison ivy....well, we know what it does as well. Essential oils should always be diluted if used topically. For further information on dilution rates, email us at and we'll gladly assisT. Safety first.


1. De Burgh, J. (2019). Introduction . In J. De Burgh (Ed.), Human Body, Understanding Anatomy (pp. 7–11). essay, Amber Books.

2. Buckle, J., & Buckle, J. (2015). How Essential Oils Work. In Clinical aromatherapy: essential oils in healthcare (pp. 15–16). essay, Churchill Livingstone.

3. Tisserand, R., Young, R., & . (2017). Kinetics and Dosing; Distribution. In Essential Oil Safety (2nd ed., pp. 51–53). essay, Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

4. Moore, J. J. (2017). Dreadful diseases and terrible treatments: the story of medicine through the ages. Metro Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing.

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