Lets start at the most basic of questions: Do essential oils support emotions?
The short answer is yes, and there is a lot of science to back it up. But most people who need emotional support from oils don't really want the science. (it's down a bit for those who do). What is more important to know is that essential oils can play a role in assisting people to cope with, manage, and move beyond emotions and emotional barriers.
An emotional response, simply put, is a reaction of the body and mind to stimuli. It is evoked primarily by an outside influence such as other individuals, groups, things or situations. These initial responses are accompanied by a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body. That release of neurotransmitters can stay in the body for hours. So yes, emotions cause a physiological response. After the initial 90 seconds however, the emotional response changes based on the psychological stimuli that enhance it. What does this mean? To say it simply, thought processes occur and can fuel the emotion to continue, meaning we can fuel the emotion with our thoughts. Like stress for instance, a situation may occur that produces the stress hormone cortisol, but our thoughts and ruminating can cause cortisol to continue to be released keeping our body in stress mode and creating say anxiety that actually gets transmitted into our DNA. Emotions that continue for long periods can become unhealthy or even become disorders.
So how can oils support emotions? When we encounter an emotionally charged situation, instead of being overwhelmed, fueling intense emotion, or getting stuck in an emotions grip, we can choose to diffuse essential oils or apply topically and actively work to change our thought processes. In essence, working to retrain our brains response.
***Now let me state something very clearly!!! There are ABSOLUTELY situations in life that create physical and emotional responses that CAN'T just be oiled and thought retrained away. When those occur, I truly hope you have the courage to address them with a professional therapist (you go to school to learn skills for work and life, and you go to therapy to learn how to manage and cope with emotions - which means yes I think everyone can benefit from therapy. And no I'm not a therapist, but I had an amazing one.) Essential oils can help as part of a therapeutic process, but professional help is a crucial piece of the healing process.
So how do the oils help (scientifically speaking):
The aldehydes, esters, sesquiterpenes, etc... (hereafter referred to as constituents) of certain essential oils can have varied effects on the central nervous system (both the sympathetic and parasympathetic). To be more specific, the olfactory bulb (that translates smell to electrical impulse) has a direct connection to 2 important parts of the brain, the amygdala and the hippocampus. Interestingly, visual, taste, auditory (sound), and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas, but are processed in the neocortex (frontal lobe). That means smell doesn't get processed like the rest of our senses. This may be why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories. You can read more about a study done where participants were exposed to Essential oils while they had an MRI to show how the brain responded.
The Amygdala is responsible for Emotions & Aggression, while the Hippocampus is responsible for learning and memory. So our focus will be on the Amygdala and how to help manage emotion, with a sprinkling about the Hippocampus and how we can release past emotional baggage. For more on releasing negative emotional patterns with essential oils, pick up a copy of the book by that title. We will also focus on some of the oils Young Living has available that are formulated for emotional support. I encourage you to do your own research and try different combinations to see what works for you and your loved ones. Remember oils are a biological substance and they interact with your biological makeup, which means each persons response may vary. So there are no hard and fast rules of what will work for you, but there are loads of resources to help you find the right combinations for your emotional wellness.
**Not all oils are created equal and I only recommend Young Living oils for their pure therapeutic benefits and Seed to Seal guarantee as well as their NON-GMO certification for those oils that can be used as internal supplements.
The aromatic molecules from essential oils absorb into the bloodstream while they are being transmitted into the limbic system. There they activate the amygdala or hippocampus. The Amygdala helps control emotion and can be responsible for a myriad of emotional responses. It's the place where our fight or flight reactions occur, and the place where stress responses are generated. These reactions and/or stress responses flood our bodies with neurotransmitters, which can actually be so strong they can shut down logical thought aka an Amygdala Hijack. Both the amygdala and the hippocampus contain many receptors for neurotransmitters.
Did you know Essential Oils can play a role in modulating the release of neurotransmitters? That's why oils can be inhaled and applied topically, to help redirect emotional responses, as part of a process to retrain the brain to cope with certain emotions. Easier said than done right? Well we have personally found that with some of Young Living’s Essential Oils and blends, this retraining process can be made easier.
Lets get personal: I first started studying the Amygdala and how it can hijack areas of the brain, when I was studying ADD & ADHD for my oldest daughter. I came to understand that there are 7 forms postulated by Dr. Amen. My daughter and husband have one of them. You can read more about that through ADDitudemag. I could probably do a whole post on ADD/ADHD & Essential Oils based on our experience and my research into EOs that help to balance Serotonin, dopamine, yadayada...
Anyways, I realized early on that my daughter is super susceptible to the Amygdala Hijack. The problem was when emotions ruled without logic, she was at risk of hurting herself (getting so made she fell off her bunk bed) or someone else (kicking me so hard in a temper tantrum that she broke my rib). Since oils we have found a better way and with practice, consistency, and coping mechanisms she has successfully retrained her brain to handle emotions without losing all sense of logic. Which has truly changed our lives and our parenting.
So lets talk about some specific Emotions, and some of the Young Living oils that may help. My hope is that you find ways to heal and maintain the type of healthy emotional balance you long for.
Ultimately, true joy is the emotion we focus on in our home. We understand that life will have its ups and downs, but through it all if we focus on positivity, gratitude, and joy we have a much healthier emotional outlook.
If you'd like more information about starting a journey with essential oils for emotional wellness, please contact us. Ordering your Premium Starter Kit and becoming a member of Young Living with our team is usually the first step. Then we resource, educate, and help you create a customized plan for your journey. Our goal is to provide you with oils and community, and if needed help you find other resources for both physical and emotion wellness.