The Mighty Lizard Brain
Inhale the scent of a fresh baked cookie, fresh cut grass, or lemon zest. Do they trigger a treasured memory? Or on the flip side does a certain fragrance cause your body to tighten, your nose to wrinkle in disgust?
Our olfactory bulb is attached to the amygdala and hippocampus. The amygdala is thought to be part of the limbic system, which is sometimes called the lizard brain because it is responsible for our fright or flight survival response. Part of the function of the hippocampus is long term memory. So, it is no wonder that smells trigger so many memories and responses.
Many essential oils trigger certain feelings and memories. The use of essential oils in a therapeutic way is known as aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy dates back around 6000 years ago and has been documented in ancient India, China, Egypt and many more.
Essential oils have many molecular constituents – terpenes, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, ketones, and phenols are the most prevalent. Each of these constituents have certain qualities that affect on different systems of the body. For example, peppermint is known as a stimulant but it is also a euphoric, lavender is relaxing and helps you fall asleep faster.
There are three different avenues for aromatherapy – smell (diffusion), absorption through the skin, and ingestion (gel caps). Our skin is the largest organ of our body. There are studies that show essential oils applied to the skin affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes, and also pass the blood brain barrier. It is very important what we put on our skin. Essential oils should be of therapeutic grade. Lotions should be paraben free and organic. For a full list of ingredients to avoid take a look at the dirty dozen for lotions. Did you know that baby oil and Vaseline are petroleum-based products?
However, there are risks of using essential oils that also need to be considered. Young children, babies, pregnancy, even your pets can be at risk to adverse effects of certain oils. It is important to study, use reference materials, seek a certified therapist so that these risks can be avoided. Citrus oils (and the sun) also degrade plastic, so only adding them to a drinking container that is non-plastic.
Many of you may have heard that perfumes include base notes, middle notes and high notes just like music. But did you know that essential oils do as well? When mixing essential oils to diffuse, using a mix of high, middle and low notes makes for a wonderful experience. Some examples of base notes are vetiver, patchouli, jasmine and lavender, middle notes are eucalyptus and peppermint, high notes are any citrus.
Blends of essential oils provide bang for the buck if they are being blended for a specific purpose. There are blends that help with muscle pain, help reduce stress (see my article about How Bad Stress Affects the Body), help memory while studying, assist healing, reduce nausea….the list is huge!
Again, it is important to know your essential oils or work with a certified aromatherapist to ensure that the essential oils aren’t harmful. At BeeTranquil we only use organic products and Young Living Oils. Why did I pick Young Living? As a certified aromatherapist their Seed to Seal guarantee was very important, as was the rigorous testing process. The final kicker was how DiGize essential oil made my tummy quit hurting. I also believe that StressAway reduces many of my client’s (and mine) anxiety. I chose aromatherapy as an add on service because I believe the benefits are tremendous. For more information check out my website BeeTranquil.com.
As always, question, question, question! Please add any suggestions, questions or comments.
Julie Fisher NC/SC LMBT
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