The benefits of Natural Aromas and Essential Oils on our Emotional and Mental Health, is often either overlooked or under estimated.
Essential oils are the concentrated version of the aromatic substances of plant botanicals. It takes 10,000 roses to fill a single 5ml bottle.
I was reminded of this magical effect that natural aromas have on our emotional state by the excitement experienced by my friend from smelling frangipani flowers that we found underneath a tree. Soon after, all of us were picking them up and getting “high” on their sweet aroma and putting them in our hair.
Some flower aromas can have a seductive effect on our mood, as the sweet aroma is produced to lure bees to spread the pollen between flowers. The most common in this category is probably Jasmin and Ylang Ylang.
Why does Essential Oils and Aromatherapy have such a powerful effect on our Emotional and Mental States:
The result comes from the relationship between the sense of smell and the limbic system.
the benefits come from the subsequent impacts of the aromas on our endocrine and neurological systems.
When it is breathed in, it is carried into the limbic system of our brain. It then enters into cerebral circulation through the capillary beds of our sinuses, and into the respiratory system and bloodstream.
The limbic system is a complex system of nerves and networks in the brain, involving several areas near the edge of the cortex concerned with instinct and mood. It controls the basic emotions (fear, pleasure, anger) and drives (hunger, sex, dominance, care of offspring). Wikipedia
Specialized receptor cells (olfactory receptor neurons) in the nose detect the fragrance and transmits them to the olfactory bulbs that has sensory receptors.
They are part of the brain, and communicates to the most primitive centers:
- Where they influence emotions and memories (limbic system structures), and
- The neo cortex, regarded as the most recently evolved part of the cortex which modify conscious thought.
Because of this direct route into the brain aromatherapy directly effects our emotional and mental well-being….
Essential oils have long played an important role in rebalancing our systems within Ayurveda, from ancient times to modern. In Chinese medicine, there has been a similar recognition of these potent oils’ ability to balance our constitutional types and circulate chi (or life force energy) to where we most need it.
The effect of essential oils on Shen
Shen is an expression of one of the three energies or treasures where:
- Jing 精 “nutritive essence, essence; refined, perfected; extract; spirit, demon; sperm, seed”
- Qi 氣 “vitality, energy, force; air, vapor; breath; spirit, vigor; attitude”
- Shen 神 “spirit; soul, mind; god, deity; supernatural being
In Traditional Chinese Medicine Shen , is seen as the spiritual essence that resides in the heart and governs consciousness. The spiritual radiance can be seen shining through a person’s eyes – the emanation of a universal loving-kindness, compassion, forgiveness and generosity.
A healthy Shen is related to positive mental and emotional states, where an unhealthy Shen related to unhealthy mental and emotional states.
Essential oils is a primary treatment for many kinds with Shen disturbances:
The following oils are known both historically and in modern research to have significant effects on the mind, emotions, sleep, relaxation, and other parameters that describe the expressions of Shen. Extracted from my Medicinal plants course by David Crow:
- Oils that calm and uplift the Shen and rejuvenate vitality through improved sleep and rest. These include Lavender, Clary Sage, Palmarosa, Geranium, Rose, and most other floral oils.
- Oils that work directly on releasing repressed memories and emotional traumas stored in the subconscious by the limbic system. These include Jatamansi/Spikenard, Valerian and oils that induce dream activity such as Clary Sage.
- Oils that uplift the mind and heart by evoking spiritual moods. These include Agarwood, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Palo Santo, Rose, Lotus, and most exotic florals.
- Oils that enhance cognitive functions in general, specifically concentration, learning and memory, and oils that prevent and reverse neurological degeneration. These include oils that clear the mind such as the cone-bearing seed plants (majority is trees) and Eucalyptus, those that focus and relax the mind such as Lavender and Melissa, those that stimulate the mind such as Peppermint and Rosemary.
The effect of Essential oils on Prana Vata (Ayuverda)
Ayurveda: is an ancient health care tradition that has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years. The word comes from the Sanskrit terms ayur (life) and veda (knowledge). -LifeScience.com
Prana Vata in Ayurveda is connected to higher cerebral functions, it governs the movement of the mind, thoughts and feelings, and is correlated with the brain’s neuro-electrical activity. It promotes enthusiasm, inspiration, mental adaptability, the ability to communicate and coordinate ideas in the mind.
Some of the oils that balance Prana Vata is: Jatamamsi, Vetiver, Calamus,Frankincense, Jasmine, Rose and Sandalwood.
These can be used with Pranayama which is control of the Breath”. “Prana” is Breath or vital energy in the body. On a subtle level, prana represents the pranic energy responsible for life or life force, and “ayama” means control.
Essential oils can also be used to balance Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and are combinations of these elements and refer to the three psycho-physiological principles that govern all the activities of mind and body. Each one of us are born with a unique composition of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Maintaining that original unique balance is vital for ongoing good health.
Essential oils for balancing the 5 Elements:
Aromatherapy has the ability to help transport the healing wisdom of herbs and herbal oils to the brain, cells and tissues of the body.
They also have energetic signatures that can influence healing and have an emotional response.
If you look at essential oils in terms of the five elements, essential oils is a combination of the water element that has absorbed nutrients from the soil, moonlight and sunlight, then it is carried into the body using the air element.
Each oil has a different elemental profile based on the elements it was exposed to. Essential oils are volatile, meaning, their atoms interact with the world around them.
Eucalyptus oil which is made from the leaves of the tall eucalyptus trees has an airy element, therefore it is good for your lungs and emotionally creates an euphoric effect to the psyche when inhaled.
Earthing or grounding Essential oils like Vetiver are made from the root of the plant, which is more of a grounding, calming and supportive type of oil.
Vetiver is a grass like plant that grows up to 1.5 metres. The roots are used to make a earthy fragranced essential oil that is good for grounding balancing and soothing the nerves among other uses. Vetiver is native to India, Indonesia, Tahiti and also grown widely in Vietnam. Vetiver is not only a truly healing oil but is also very popular for soil. It is part of a program to tackle bad soil erosion in the Highlands of Central Vietnam and other places around the world….. David Crow on Vetiver Oil: Through purification and regeneration, plants cure diseases of the earth’s ecological terrain in the same way that they cure diseases of the body’s inner terrain. Vetiver grass is one of the world’s most important botanical solutions for a wide range of environmental problems. Its deep roots hold the topsoil and prevent its erosion by wind and water. These roots also capture the rain and percolate it into the soil, preventing runoff, recharging depleted groundwater, and bringing springs back to life. Like many other plants, vetiver has amazing metabolic powers that allow it to thrive in polluted environments and digest the endless stream of man-made poisons that we dump everywhere. Because the grass has a special appetite for pesticides and agricultural toxins, it is now used in over a hundred countries for phytoremediation purposes, helping to cleanse the environment in the same way that medicinal plants detoxify the organs of the body. #vetiver #soil #erosion #essentialoils #earth #green #herbal #sustainable #grounding #vietnam #travel #health #healing
Flower oils like Night Blooming Jasmin produces a flower-inducing hormone in its leaves when exposed to bright sunlight. It migrates from the leaves to flowering shoots during the day. It accumulates in the flowering shoots of the Jasmine plant and induces flowering during the night. Because it flowers at night it has a very cooling feminine effect. It is the psyche and emotions that are the principal beneficiaries of Jasmine’s powers. In general, feelings of love and peace surround this exquisite and delicate floral oil.
When inhaling the aroma of your chosen oil, think about what elements the plant were most exposed to and experience the effect in your body.
How to use the aromas:
Choose any oil that gives you positive sensation when smelled. The one you personally like most will have the biggest effect.
You can incorporate this into your daily life by putting a drop onto cotton wool and placing it in your room or car.
You can also use it as part of your meditation practice. Because the aromas is connected to memory, you can then use your selected oil outside of meditation to evoke the same experience you have during your meditation.
Add a few drops to your bath, diffuser or massage oil.
Remember to use essential oils safely. Never use them undiluted!
Also, stop and smell roses and flowers from time to time….
Most importantly, the oil should be a 100% pure essential oil. Expensive oils like Frankincense and Sandalwood are usually adulterated, so be careful when choosing your oils.