This is a follow-up to my previous post on anxiety. In addition to breathing techniques, music and other strategies I’ve talked about before, I’ve recently discovered the wonderful potential of essential oils.
Not just a pretty scent…
We all understand that smelling something pretty, like inhaling the perfume of a rose for example, makes you feel happy. But it’s worth understanding a little deeper, because the therapeutic power of essential oils goes a lot further than that.
Without going too deep into the sciencey part, when your nose detects a scent, it means that tiny molecules have evaporated from an object, and entered your nose. The molecules interlock with specialized receptors and communicate with the brain through the olfactory bulb. This captures information from the scent molecules, and actually helps to form and record memories.
Ever had a sudden flashback from smelling an aroma wafting from a restaurant, or the perfume of someone walking by? I can totally recall the moldy, nasty but comfort-inducing scent of my parents’ old minivan, for example (lol). When you think about it, scent has a profound effect on our memories, feelings and emotions.
What you inhale affects your health
We all understand that inhaling bad molecules from the air can negatively affect our health. Car exhaust, glue fumes, poison gases, cigarette smoke, mold spores and airborne viruses for example. We easily acknowledge that these things, which we can’t see with our naked eye, wreak havoc on our health when we smell and inhale them into the body.
So what if good, happy, healthy airborne molecules could do the opposite? Re-program our system for better balance and energy, and help prevent and reverse illness? Well surprise, they can! Essential oils are the lifeblood of plants; they are the substances that help protect and support the successful growth of the plant. When they are harvested through gentle methods from excellent quality plants, they form wonderfully rich natural medicines for the human body.
And it doesn’t stop there…
Out of all five senses, smell is the only one directly linked to the limbic system in the brain, which is our emotional control center. The limbic system is directly connected to the parts of the brain that control heart rate, digestion, blood pressure, breathing, stress levels, arousal, and hormone balance. What this means is that essential oil molecules can impact not just emotion, but the body’s physical function.
All of these physical functions compile to form the body’s sympathetic and asympathetic nervous systems. The asympathetic system is the one you want to activate to calm down and turn off the stress response. Influencing the limbic system with essential oils is one way you can directly activate the asympathetic nervous system, like pressing a “chill out” button.
In summary, the use of therapeutic grade essential oils can have profound effects on our physical and emotional well-being. Recent research is showing that essential oils may help relieve symptoms just as effectively as medication, but without the side effects of anxiety drugs.
The best essential oils for anxiety and stress relief
Frankincense is a beautiful, warm woody oil distilled from the sap of the boswellia tree. The sap is sustainably harvested in crystal form, as shown here. Then it’s steamed and the distilled oil is collected.
The sesquiterpene molecules in frankincense help calm anxiety and create feelings of joy and happiness, by stimulating healthy neurotransmitter and hormone production from the hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal glands.
I like to rub frankincense on my face as it helps smooth and heal the skin, and that way I can inhale its calming scent and get a prettier complexion while I’m at it.
Lavender oil has been commonly used for centuries as an antiseptic, a natural antibiotic, an insect repellent and a calming sedative.
Lavender is well-known as a natural sleep aid to bring relief from insomnia. I like to put a few drops on my pillow before I go to bed, or add some to my epsom salt bath water.
During the day I also mix a few drops with a little bit of frankincense and rub on the back of my neck. This is a nice stress-relieving ritual; take a few deep breaths as you massage your neck and clear your mind a bit. The warmth of the skin helps waft the calming aroma into the air.
They are excellent for the purpose of uplifting the mood, creating a sense of well-being and chasing away those dark shadows in the corners of an anxious mind. They are said to aid in the body’s ability to respond to stress and also help with circulation and detox.
I like to diffuse these oils at home for a freshening and uplifting vibe. You can also add a drop of therapeutic-grade citrus essential oils to your drinking water or to recipes.
Quality is important
Please take into account the quality of the essential oils you purchase. By using natural medicine you are already saving a huge amount of expense on conventional medical care, plus the lost time you would have wasted with being sick, plus the side effects and toxicity that medications place on the body.
So it’s worth investing in the best quality essential oils to apply and inhale into your one precious body.
Drug-store or health food store grade oils are often laced with synthetics and they have very few quality standards applied. I choose to respect my body and my health, and in turn get the best results (!) by only using the best essential oils. Here is where I buy mine.
Please share your tips…
What oils do you like to use to relieve stress and anxiety? What strategies do you combine with essential oils? Please share so we can all help each other! :)