OK, I get it.
You’re a little dubious to the whole essential oils thing.
I don’t blame you.
I was the biggest skeptic going until September 2015 and I even gatecrashed an educational workshop to shut the whole farcical operation down…
But, while this is quite a funny story, I’ve covered it before so won’t be going into it here.
Instead, I will do my best to stay on point & explain how essential oils work on the brain (because after all that’s why you’re here!).
I will give you a little background in case you haven’t come across essential oils before though.
So, essential oils are simply the plant ‘juice’.
When still contained in the plant the oils keep the plant healthy.
Because, we share very similar DNA to plants (did you know we’re 60% banana?), our cells can use the plant ‘juice’ (essential oil) to support our own health.
The essential oil penetrates the skin within 30 seconds & positively affects every cell in your body within 20 minutes.
So what about the brain?
Well, I want you to just stop for a moment and think about a memory you have which comes back really vividly when you think of the smell.
For me, if I smell ‘wash & go’ shampoo I am instantly taken back to the showers at Arthog, in year 9 (way back in 2007) & I can ‘see’ everything in excruciating detail.
When we smell an aroma and are also experiencing an emotional moment (positive or negative), your brain implants a memory and attached to this memory is the smell. The more you smell the aroma and recall the same memory the deeper this memory is implanted.
Now, what’s important to realise is the emotional response you experienced at the time also comes flooding back with the images.
& this happens automatically without you even thinking about it.
This is why things like PTSD can be so scary for the person suffering.
For example, smelling something burning may bring back awful visual memories of an event which included burning and also the emotions of the time also come back.
The person with PTSD literally re-lives the event because the brain and the body have gone into autopilot.
Now, we can absolutely use this to our advantage and really easily.
For example – what if you need to study for a test?
You may really struggle to recall anything as soon as you have the test in front of you because your emotional and physiological systems jump into autopilot & shut down.
To stop this from happening you can diffuse a certain scent every time you are studying that specific subject then take the same scent into the exam (e.g., place a few drops of essential oil on a scarf/on your jumper) and when you are experiencing writers block close your eyes, smell the aroma and the facts should come flooding back to you!
It may be that you experience writers block because you are just overly anxious about the whole exam/test process & this stops you being able to access any information you have tried to store in your memory.
In situations where we have conditioned ourselves (thoughts drive behaviours which then in turn drive the thoughts … on repeat) to act in a certain way (e.g., be anxious) relying on our own abilities to calm down can be quite difficult.
If you become anxious thinking about a situation, you may start to experience physiological responses (e.g., palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath…), this then makes you feel more anxious and you think there’s something to be anxious about…
It really is a vicious cycle.
Yes, you can absolutely do things like deep breathing to help cut off the physiological response and get yourself back in control of what’s going on – but sometimes, if you’re super worked up you just can’t seem to breathe deeply enough.
Or, your thoughts just seem to be running away with themselves and not allowing you to even contemplate deep breathing!
This is when essential oils can be extremely useful.
Oils like: lavender, wild orange and ylang ylang have a calming effect on the systems responsible for emotional wellbeing (e.g., endocrine system).
Basically, the essential oil will get into your system and support your body to calm down and release your anxieties.
The best thing, you don’t need to be consciously aware or ‘force’ yourself to do anything.
It just happens.
& it happens really, really quickly.
Even more importantly, once the essential oil has been applied and is in your system it’s going to be doing whatever it needs to for 2 hours before naturally dissipating.
Now, essential oils are not magic.
They cannot do anything your body can’t do.
It’s better to think of them as supercharging your own cellular healing abilities.
Because let’s be honest, our bodies & brains are fantastic all on their own (e.g., your brain rewires itself, your liver can regenerate & your bones grow, knit and repair after being broken).
We don’t need medication to heal ourselves because that’s what our cells are designed to do naturally.
But, when we have overloaded our system sometimes our cells need a little support.
This is what essential oils do.
You can also use essential oils to disrupt negative automatic thoughts, emotions and physiological responses and implant new positive automatic thoughts, emotions and physiological responses.
But you’ll need the help of a therapist to do this because you will have to actively work on the things that are troubling you & sometimes when you start it’s like opening a floodgate.
Anyway – I hope this post has enabled you to gain a little information about how essential oils work on the brain.
Catch you soon – Katie.
Please note – this post first appeared on my business blog site – Woodland Psychological Services Ltd
- It’s important to seek the advice of a professional before embarking on a new health regime.
- These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
- This website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
- Essential Oils are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease
- Not all essential oils are of the same quality and it’s important you check with your oil brand whether you can use your oils aromatically (A), topically (T) and/or internally (I).