If you're not familiar with essential oils or don't yet incorporate them into your lifestyle, it's fascinating to learn the many uses and benefits. I used to think that essential oils were had the same basic use as perfume: to smell good. But aromatherapy is much more than just good smells and it's only one aspect of using essential oils. Understanding how essential oils work with the body and the brain can help you to benefit more from the way you use them.
Three main ways that essential oils interact with the body:
1) Pharmacological: When essential oils enter the bloodstream, chemical changes take place when the oil reacts with enzymes, hormones, minerals...etc. Humans have used plants and herbs as medicine since we’ve existed. All over the world, people have figured out that by applying oils topically, they’re absorbed directly through the skin and into the bloodstream. A very small amount of potent oils can have drastic effects.
Essential oil constituents have the potential to affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes and then be metabolized like any other nutrient.
At some point, much of our Western culture has forgotten about the pharmacy of nature. Essential oils offer an extra way to use plants as part of diet, reflexology, emotional wellness, massage, and immune-boosting. It can feel overwhelming at first, but with a little education, essential oils can be used to replace every synthetic drug in your medicine cabinet.
2) Physiological: This has to do with the way that the essential oil affects various systems in the body. Certain oils will stimulate or sedate various systems or organs within the body. You can also affect the way an oil is used based on which nostril you breathe into or where you apply it in relation to acupuncture (energy meridian) points.
Essential oils have the ability to affect the brain more than drugs.
The blood-brain barrier is a filtering mechanism that prevents substances from reaching the brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid. 98% of small molecule drugs cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, which would be essential for the treatment of brain diseases and disorders. But certain essential oils can naturally cross the blood-brain barrier and impact neurotransmitter receptors therapeutically. This is why essential oils are so extremely therapeutic for any dysfunction of the brain or nervous system.
3) Psychological: When an oil is inhaled, our body has an individual response to the aroma (aromatherapy).
Our sense of smell is directly connected to the frontal lobe of the brain, so diffusing oils is one simple way to achieve a desired mood.
There are many ways to diffuse scent, without a nebulizing diffuser. You can simply inhale directly from the vial, add to a handkerchief or pillowcase, use as perfume, add in the shower or bath, or place a drop of oil on a cotton ball and add to air vents or attach to a ceiling fan. You might diffuse or inhale invigorating or citrusy oils while you’re working, and switch to soothing, earthy scents when you need to wind down. (TIP: Explore various blends of oils to find or create a combination that resonates with you and your body/brain chemistry. Everyone is different.)
Check out some of the uses of a few popular essential oils and DoTerra blends:
When going the holistic route, it’s important to choose completely pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. Otherwise, you’re simply adding other foreign substances to your body, putting a burden on your liver and kidneys to filter. Even though they can be pricey, what’s nice about good quality essential oils is that a little goes a LONG way. Essential oils are highly concentrated, so you’re just wasting product if you use more than a few drops. For many applications, essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil or water.
If you're looking to incorporate oils into your self-care, books are a great place to start! Modern Essentials is one really complete guide that I would recommend. Your local library or bookstore surely has many references and ideas for you...you can also just ask!
I sell DoTerra essential oil products. I chose DoTerra because they preserve purity by sourcing plants from indigenous regions all over the world. I love sharing creative ways to use oils and helping you find ones that will support you on your physical or emotional journey. I place an order on the 15th of each month, so just check in if you have any questions or are thinking about oils you might like to try!