Essential oils and emotional well-being

People may forget what you told them, but they will never forget how you made them feel. This is because emotions, rather than words, help us to navigate the intricate social landscapes of our lives. How do you know you’re in love? Because you feel butterflies in your stomach. Why do couples split up? Well, because at least one of them doesn’t feel anything anymore. Emotions also serve as protective mechanisms that increase our chances of survival by preparing us to act. For example, when we are afraid, our body prepares us to flee or fight by shutting down digestive processes, expanding our visual field and increasing blood flow to the legs. In evolutionary terms, had it not been for the wide range of emotions we can feel, we would have never made it so far as a species. That’s why intellect may be confused, but emotions never lie because they are the engine of our survival.

Where do emotions come from?

The most beautiful things in the world are not to be seen or heard. They are to be felt. But where do all those feelings come from? What gives rise to emotions such as happiness, surprise and trust? Surprisingly, it is not the heart. In fact, our emotions are created in the limbic system, a set of brain structures located on both sides of the thalamus. It is no exaggeration to say that our emotional life is largely housed in the limbic system. And while it’s true that a wide range of sensory stimuli are involved in the process of generating emotions, some senses turn out to be a lot more important than we think. 

Interestingly, and perhaps astonishingly, a human’s sense of smell is estimated to be over 10,000 times more acute than other senses such as hearing and taste. That’s why we only have five well-recognized tastes, but we are able to recognize more than 10,000 different odours

Here is what makes this possible. When sniffing a flower, odour molecules from it are drawn to the top of the nose as we breathe in. They then dissolve in the olfactory epithelium, a flat sheet of mucous membrane lining the roof of the nasal cavity. The olfactory epithelium contains specialized neurons that bind to odour molecules and send signals to the brain that are interpreted as smell. 

Although humans’ ability to smell is remarkable due to a total of around 12 million olfactory receptor cells, there are animals whose sense of smell is even more acute. Depending on the breed, dogs possess between 100-300 million olfactory receptors and, in contrast to humans, their olfactory epithelium forms an intricate maze that folds and curls over a number of bony protrusions called turbinates.


Essential oils have positive impact on our mood and well-being

Considering how acute our olfaction is, it is no surprise that the use of essential oils and aromatherapy goes back to ancient civilizations including the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Distilled essential oils have been employed as medicines since the early eleventh century, when Avicenna isolated essential oils using steam distillation. Sometimes referred to as “a Leonardo da Vinci of his time and place”, Avicenna is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age. 

Although aromatherapy has no doubt stood the test of time, it was not until recently that we discovered how exactly plant oils affect our emotions: a study on the effects of essential oils found that the signals sent to the limbic system cause our brain to release neurotransmitters such as serotonin, endorphins and noradrenaline. This is incredibly important because in addition to being important chemical messengers that transmit messages from nerve cells to target cells, neurotransmitters are key to our emotional stability. Research shows that reduced serotonin transmission frequently results in depression. Essential oils are also a highly effective tool in holistic addictology because they may help patients overcome negative energies and destructive memories. A scientific study published in the International Journal of New Technology and Research found significant alpha and theta wave changes, based on EEG analyses, as a result of inhalation of lavender and bergamot essential oils. Additionally, the study revealed that physical and mental states became more stable, comfortable, and relaxed after essential oil aroma inhalation by the experimental group compared to the control group.

Only buy quality that you can trust

Sadly, not all oils are created equal. My advice is only choose 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils as only these guarantee the desired effects. Avoid synthetic essential oils as well as oils that smell ridiculously sweet. If your essential oil smells like a dessert, it usually means that its therapeutic properties are either decreased or non-existent because vanillin was added. Essential oils should smell exactly like the plant that was used to created them.

I have been working with essential oils for nearly twenty years and am confident in saying that as far as quality is concerned, nothing comes even close to Young Living. In addition to selecting only the strongest seeds from strong thriving plants, Young Living ensures all plants are hand-weeded and no toxic chemicals (such as pesticides and fungicides) are used. Plants are also harvested at peak times and distilleries are located on site to prevent contamination. Moreover, every batch must pass many tests prior to being shipped.

Single ingredient essential oils and blends available

Young Living offers a range of essential oils containing a single ingredient as well as blends and collections meticulously formulated to achieve a particular purpose. The Feelings™ collection features six essential oil blends that inspire feelings of emotional well-being and promote peaceful thoughts and spiritual harmony while the Freedom Sleep™ collection is designed to make bedtime your favourite part of the day.

Smell is a potent wizard. Are you ready to let it transport you across thousands of miles and the years you have lived?