Fostering Resilience with
Essential Oil Therapy
Resilience and Aromatherapy are both an Art and Science, and both use similar principles to promote holistic therapeutic healing. Uplifting emotions, promote mental, physical and spiritual wellness. Both utilize the human body senses: Sight, Smell, Sound, Taste, Touch.
Research conducted by The Third Space, has shown that participants who incorporate aromatherapy as part of their resilience building program have shown greater signs of improvement in mental clarity and sleep quality. Participants are also calmer, happier and have demonstrated the ability to bounce back and adapt quicker in comparison to those who did not use aromatherapy. In a similar controlled trial conducted by the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, it has shown that inhalation of essential oils as per aromatherapy / essential oil therapy resulted in lower perceived stress, depression, and better sleep quality
The limbic system, also known as the paleomammalian cortex, is a set of brain structures located on both sides of the thalamus , immediately beneath the medial temporal lobe of the cerebrum primarily in the forebrain. The limbic system often interacts heavily with the cerebral cortex. These interactions are closely linked to olfaction, emotions, drives, autonomic regulation, memory, and pathologically to encephalopathy, epilepsy, psychotic symptoms, cognitive defects. The functional relevance of the limbic system has proven to serve many different functions such as affects/emotions, memory, sensory processing, time perception, attention, consciousness, instincts, autonomic/vegetative control, and actions/motor behavior. Emotional life is primarily housed in the limbic system, and it critically aids the formation of memory. The limbic system operates by influencing the endocrine system and the autonomic nervous system (known as ANS).
The sense of smell (olfaction) was one of the earliest senses to arise in evolution and is well developed in animals. Olfaction is the process of the brain perceiving odor. It is utilized to detect odors of food, enemies, territory, and the opposite sex. In humans and animals, olfaction evokes emotional reactions that result in strong behavior changes.
The sense of smell acts mostly on the subconscious level of the brain; yet it offers us more than 10,000 times more information than the senses of sight, taste and touch combined.
Adrenal and Cortisol
The adrenals are small triangular glands that sit on top of your kidneys and produce and release the body’s stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol provides the body with the energy it requires to survive physical or emotional stress. When adrenal glands are overtaxed or fatigued, they are not able to supply the body with the energy it needs to heal. This state is often described as Adrenal Fatigue. In order to support the body to heal, we need to help support the adrenal glands for the optimal energy reserves required to support our healing. This means balancing the adrenals and addressing the common contributors to adrenal fatigue such as emotional stress, poor digestion, chronic inflammation, and an underactive thyroid.
In addition to providing the body with energy, cortisol also plays a role in anti-inflaming the body, regulating the immune system. Inflammation is often a sign that your body is working to fight off an infection, and cortisol stops this reaction from getting out of hand. If you can’t produce enough cortisol, then your immune system may go into overdrive. In addition to modulating the immune system, supporting our adrenals is a critical step in setting the body up for optimal success in healing.
How do we foster resilience using aromatherapy / essential oil therapy ?
Essential oils can help return your body to a balanced state known as homeostasis. For example, when inhaled, oils directly communicate with the brain, which signals the body to respond with elevated energy levels. Essential oils also affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function that can return the body to optimal balance and energy levels.
Smell is the only sense that goes directly to the limbic system, bypassing the cerebral cortex, (our intellectual part of the brain). The other senses of sight and hearing must register with the cortex before entering other parts of the brain.
Essential oils work like adaptogenic herbs to help the body adapt to stress. Adaptogens support better brain-gland communication, which becomes impaired under adrenal fatigue by improving the signals between the brain and the adrenals. If you are tired, adaptogens will increase your energy. If you are anxious and stimulated, essential oils will produce a calming effect.
Energy fuels our body’s internal functions and repairs, building and maintaining cells and tissues, and facilitating the chemical reactions that allow us to heal. This means that before beginning a healing protocol, we need to ensure that your body has the energy reserves and strength it needs to fuel the healing effort. Specifically, the energy makers – the adrenals and thyroid – need to be robust, fueling our body with the critical energy it needs to take on the additional stress of healing.
Dr Christina has helped many individuals across all walks of life around the globe. During the pandemic, she provided pro-bono coaching and incorporating essential oil therapy to many frontlines, nurses, and individuals who needed to balance mental and emotional stress. She also started a 'pay forward' program to help individuals and families who are in need.
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