This post is shared by a dear friend, Candy Raymond. When I read it, I knew I had to ask if she'd be willing to be a guest blogger and was delighted when she agreed!
Have I ever talked to you about the limbic system? You may remember hearing something about it when you first learned about essential oils. (Of course, we covered a LOT of information then so, if you don’t remember, don’t feel bad.)
The limbic system is a relatively small part of the brain but it is HUGE with regards to governing our emotions, memories and behaviors. I won’t bother with all of the technical stuff; that’s what Google is for, right? But here are a few specifics of what the limbic system is involved with:
- Controlling emotions
- Regulating eating, hunger, and thirst
- Responding to pain and pleasure
- Controlling functioning of the autonomic nervous system, including things like pulse, blood pressure, breathing and arousal
- Controlling aggressive or violent behavior
- Responding to sensory information, especially the sense of smell
Ever wonder why certain smells conjure up memories and even physical feelings so vividly? Our sense of smell is unique compared to our other senses because it bypasses parts of the brain that other types of sensory information often can't. This is the reason smells can often cause immediate and strong emotional reactions based on memories; bringing us back to past events within milliseconds, making us feel a certain way based on past events, whether we realize why we’re suddenly feeling that way or not.
Essential oils can have dramatic effects on limbic function and how you feel. The fragrances they hold, make their way into your bloodstream then travel directly through the blood/brain barrier very quickly.
Research shows that the olfactory bulb sends information to the hippocampus, and the hippocampus then passes it along to the main olfactory bulb. This is how memories and smells become tied together. Once engaged, sensors emit strong emotional signals based on smells starting from your limbic system and spreading throughout the rest of your body to places like your heart and digestive tract.
Because essential oils can impact memory, balance hormone levels and support healthy limbic system functions; scientific evidence shows that inhaling essential oils may be one of the fastest ways to create physiological or psychological benefits. These include decreasing anxiety, anger or even fatigue.
Because essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream when they are inhaled, using a diffuser can help you experience the benefits of essential oils, or you can directly inhale them from the bottle or a cotton swab. For example, diffuse lavender to reduce stress, orange to improve your mood, frankincense for spiritual connection, and peppermint to improve focus and energy.
(Much of the above information comes from Dr. Axe, ”What Is the Limbic System? (Plus How to Keep It Healthy & the Role of Essential Oils)”).
There is so much more to the limbic system and how it effects our physical and emotional well being but I’ll stop with the science there. While I’m not a doctor or even a scientist, and therefore am limited in what I’m allowed to say, I encourage you to do your own research anytime you want to dig deeper into what essential oils may be able to do.
For today, I can tell you some of my favorite oils that support the limbic system function of balancing emotions. Again, these are just a few of the amazing oil blends that D. Gary Young studied and formulated for emotional support. There are others that may turn out to be your favorites.
This is one I keep in my purse (along with Stress Away, Lavender and Peppermint). Brain Power is a blend of essential oils high in sesquiterpenes—like Sacred Sandalwood, Blue Cypress, and Frankincense—to promote a sense of clarity and focus when used aromatically. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself in a brain fog; usually when I feel overwhelmed or over-tired. I apply Brain Power to the bottoms of my big toes and/or on my brain stem and crown of my head. It’s like getting a “second wind” to carry on. This one is a good choice for kids too, as is the next one.
When you need a boost of support for focus and sorting through information, I’d recommend Clarity. I usually diffuse it, but you can apply it to the same areas as you would Brain Power. Clarity blends Basil, Rosemary, Peppermint, and other essential oils for an aroma that invites a sense of clarity and alertness.
The powerful scent of Motivation may promote feelings of action and accomplishment when diffused. Don’t feel like getting after a project? Is your “To Do” list longer than your arm? Diffuse this for about 30 minutes and see what happens! (That’s what I’ll be doing later today when I need to declutter my art supply closet.)
Maybe like me, you have some mindsets that need adjusting. The oils in Transformation include Idaho Blue Spruce, Palo Santo, and Ocotea and this combination can empower you to replace negative beliefs with uplifting ones when diffused. When my mind tells me “I can't,” I use this to move past limiting beliefs or destructive patterns toward a new and healthy mindset.
We all need a little mood lifting sometimes. Some days, I don’t always know why, I just feel “off”. Joy is great for uplifting my mood and balancing emotional ups and downs. I usually apply it over my heart and on the back of my neck, but it’s also great in the diffuser so everyone can benefit from this sweet, citrusy, floral combination.
Every oil that comes in the Premium Starter Kit can have a benefit on your limbic system function. (Yes, even DiGize! ). So, as you can guess, there could be an entire series just on essential oils for emotional support.
For now, “Don’t Worry. Be Happy!” (That song reference may be lost on some of you. You know how to find it. ) ;)