The Emotional Essence of Essential Oils
Inhaling a whiff of sweet basil and oregano, coupled with the moist, pungent smell of pipe smoke, may invoke childhood memories of walking into yourgrandma’s house for Sunday dinner. The response is powerful; you can almost taste the macaroni and gravy simmering on the stove. Not only is there a physical reaction to the smell, but an emotional response as well.
Your sense of smell is the only one of the five senses that taps into the emotional control center of our brain, the limbic system. Your olfactory senses are 10,000 times stronger than the other senses and provide the fastest path to memories and emotions. The use of essentials oils for emotional well-being has garnered a surge in popularity.
New York Medical University’s Joseph Ledoux, Ph.D., “was one of the first to suggest that using aroma could be a major breakthrough in helping to release hidden and suppressed feeling and memories of emotional bondage,” according to the Essential Oils Desk Reference.
The cell structures of plant-based essential oils are similar to that of the human cell structures, enabling the human body to recognize and process the oils. The oils attach to cell receptor sites and elicit the emotional responses needed. They calm the amygdala, the small nuclei located in the temporal lobes of the brain that is associated with emotions, aggression and memory. Their soothing effect can release and relieve stress and trauma.
A powerful illustration of the emotional strength of essential oils is the application of the oils following the tragic Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. After the incident, thousands of dollars of oils were donated by essential oil company doTerra to assist with trauma recovery. Marian Edvardsen of Norwalk, a wellness advocate for doTerra, volunteered in Sandy Hook. She said a protocol of thirteen oils was chosen specifically to address the key issues at hand. “Each oil has an intelligence of its own,” Edvardsen explained. “For example, lavender is not just the pleasant odor in your potpourri, it’s also the oil of communication. This calming oil was used for children, teachers and first responders who couldn’t find the words to process what they had experienced.”
Betty Shaw, a raw food educator from Woodbury, says the oils have the power to change our emotional state, not just temporarily, but for lasting change. “If I don’t like the way I feel, I know I have the power in my essential oils medicine kit to change my mood,” she says.
“Your soul reaches for the oil you crave,” explains Greta Adams of Simply Essential.
She has created a mindful moment technique combining affirmation and thought with the oils. “I love the instant short-term results, but long-term consistent use aids with conditions such as chronic anxiety and depression,” Adams says.
Norwalk-based massage therapist and Reiki practitioner, Lauren Bailey Peters, was drawn to the spiritual aspect of the essential oils. “Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years in temples and spiritual practices. However,” Peters says, “the quality of the oils determines how it affects your body and brain, so choose wisely.” As with food, oils produced from plants and flowers that are organically grown and sustainably produced are recommended.
Kristen Hallett Rzasa is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings Fairfield County and the owner of InterPlay Health, a whole life wellness company in Norwalk focused on fitness, nutrition and fun for women. She is a Jazzercise instructor, health coach and MELT Method instructor. Find her at InterPlayHealth.com.
Lauren Bailey Peters
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