Essential oils are widely recognized for their aromatic use in personal care products, and are often enjoyed for their inviting scent alone. But beyond these aromas, essential oils can also play a catalytic role in supporting our day to day emotional wellbeing.
So what exactly are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are volatile aromatic compounds which come from plants and they are 50-70 times more potent than herbs- a little goes long way! These aromatic compounds are extracted from plant roots, stems, leaves, flowers, berries, barks, resins and seeds and they make up the plant's immune system and protection from disease. The incredible thing about these aromatic compounds lies in their ability to interact with our brain chemistry, to support us to release or re-route negative emotions- how empowering is that!
Have you ever had an experience where a whiff of a particular smell, transports you back to an emotional memory? You're going about your day then all of a sudden you're flooded with an old memory? This is because of a chemical reaction in our brain between our sense of smell and our stored emotions.
When we inhale the fragrance of an essential oil, the odor molecules travel up the nasal passageways where they’re registered by the nerves of the olfactory membranes in the nose lining. This triggers electrical impulses to the olfactory bulb in the brain; the olfactory bulb then transmits the impulses to the amygdala - where emotional memories are stored. The limbic system is the most ancient part of the brain- sometimes referred to as the lizard brain, which is responsible for the body's survival functions and the sense of smell which was at one time, crucial to our survival. The limbic system, specifically the amygdala is our emotional control centre where emotions are stored and processed, and our sense of smell is the only sense which has a direct interaction with the amygdala, making essential oils a fantastic resource for working with buried emotions, and breaking our old emotional patterning.
"Because the limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance, essential oils can have profound physiological and psychological effects… Olfactory responses to odors induce the brain to stimulate the release of hormones and neurochemicals that in turn alter the body’s physiology and behavior. " Essential Oil Desk Reference, 4th Edition
Whether we are conscious of them of not, our emotions play a huge role in how we understand who we are and how we behave in the world. To have tools to support us to release unpleasant, troubling and traumatic emotional states, is to be truly empowered in our wellbeing.
But of course essential oils are not magic bullet. You have to do the work too.
The oils may help to release and reroute emotions, but we still need to actively participate in their processing. Perhaps you enjoy journalling, or a chat with a trusted friend, a daily yoga practice or maybe you prefer to work with a psychologist; these are all ways you could deepen your path of self study to release stuck emotions and find freedom.
In Sydney and keen to learn more about Emotional Aromatherapy?
You're invited to join us on Thurs October 13th, 7pm with special guest Santoshi Stone.
Space highly limited. This event will sell out. Book your spot here.
And here, I made a quick video, sharing a few of my top oils I use for emotional well-being.