Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Enhancing Your Wellness with Essential Oils

Aromatherapy can be defined as supporting the efforts of the body and mind to heal themselves through the inhalation and external application of essential plant oils.  Essential
oils are the vital essences which come from the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruit of plants, and they have various healing properties.  Even though they are called "oils," they are not actually oily to the touch.  They are volatile, which means they can evaporate.  True essential oils are obtained through distillation or expression.  These are pure and therapeutic.  Some of the cheaper oils are obtained through the use of chemical solvents which extract the vital essence, but which are adulterated by the solvent, and are therefore not safe to use with babies and children.  In fact, I wouldn't recommend them to anyone.  Spend a little more and get a pure, unadulterated oil.  Then you don't have to worry about the effects of the solvent on your immune and nervous system.

How do essential oils work?  The molecules are extremely tiny, and are absorbed through the hair follicles and pores when applied to the skin.  They also enter the system between the skin cells, by dissolving in the natural fatty lipids surrounding the skin cells.  They are then taken up by the fatty layer underneath, transferred to the bloodstream, and circulate to all parts of the body.  When inhaled, some of the vital constituents of the oils are dissolved in the mucous at the top of our nasal cavity.  The tiny little hairs, or cilia, convey the message of the oils directly to the the brain's receptors, and enters the lymbic or emotional system of the brain.   Some enter the lungs where they are absorbed into the blood stream.

There is so much to learn about essential oils, this is just an introduction to get you familiar with the basic oils and how to use them.  But you may ask, is there any scientific research to support the idea that essential oils can assist the body's healing process?

Studies with brain wave frequency have shown that smelling lavender increases alpha waves in the back of the head, which are associated with relaxation (as well as intuition).  Fragrance of Jasmine was shown to increase beta waves in the front of the head, which are associated with a more alert mental state.

A company in Japan decided to do a study on how different fragrances effect people.  They exposed a room full of keyboard entry operators to different fragrances and then monitored how many mistakes the operators made.  They found that when exposed to lavendar oil, keyboard errors dropped 20%.  When exposed to jasmine, errors dropped 33 percent.  And when exposed to lemon, the mistakes fell by 54%!!!!  These oils relax our anxieties while making our brains more alert.

Lavendar and Lemon are two oils everyone should have.  They are adaptogenic, meaning that they adapt to your body's needs and the situation.

The human memory is able to store up to 10,000 different smells.  In our distant past, we were able to detect fear and other emotional states by just smelling them.  Indeed, I believe this is one very important part of how our intuition works.   Our olfactory sense picks up a smell, our brains identifies it without us even realizing it, and the brain translates this information into a thought or feeling  which we understand, but can't pinpoint HOW we understand.

The memories of different odors are stored in the limbic part of the brain.  Each smell is associated with a memory, so when you smell and particular fragrance, it either evokes that specific memory, or it simply evokes the emotion associated with that memory.  For instance, the smell of lavender may remind you of your grandmother.   Or perhaps you had a very traumatic experience as a child, and during that experience you internalized the smells which were present at the time.  You may not even remember the event which caused the emotional memory.  You don't have to.  From now on, that smell will be associated with that particular emotion.

There are also essential oils which evoke a biochemical response that creates certain changes in emotion.  We will be dealing with this aspect of essential oils later.
Children are born with a wonderful sense of smell.  After a baby is born, in only a few days it will recognize it's mother's scent.  Babies learn to associate food, warmth, security, happiness and love to the smell of their mothers.  If the mother will routinely wear a particular essential oil or combination of oils, then that scent can be used to help calm the baby down.  Also, if a particular oil is used during the process of childbirth and immediately after, and the birth is a good experience for the baby, then that particular oil will always evoke good feelings for the child.

One particular class of oils that children usually love are citrus oils, including lemon, mandarin, orange and bergamot.  These are often referred to as "happy" oils, and evoke a more cheerful demeanor.   Lavender and vanilla are two fragrances that studies have shown to reduce stress.  However, experience with your own child and the oils should be your best guide.

Essential oils should not be ingested except in cases where the oils are Therapeutic Grade.  Essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil before being applied to the skin.  The only Therapeutic Grade oils we can recommend are Young Living Essential Oils.

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Copyright 2015  Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living

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