Scents Making Sense
BY DEBBY SIEGEL, VANESSA, ANDREA WREN, THERESA JONES
Debby Siegel’s essential oils story:
Other than a brief affair with Givenchy’s Amarige in the 90s, I’ve generally gravitated toward more natural scents. Bread baking, pine trees, rain in the dessert, honeysuckle, and campfires top my odor preference list. These smells send me to a good place. Just typing them brought some of these good connections back.
Noting the proximity of my nose to my brain, the power of scents makes sense to me. It’s like I’m waking up and smelling the coffee!
Enter essential oils. One does not need to be a yoga teacher long before essential oils make their way across one’s mat radar. The mind-body medicine research tells us of the distinct ability for our thoughts to affect our health outcomes. Since nostrils are connected to a section of the brain called the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that controls emotions, as well as the nervous system and hormones, I’m all ears when it comes to plant-derived oils for scentual healing.
I looked up “essential.”
es·sen·tial – əˈsen(t)SHəl/
absolutely necessary; extremely important. “it is essential to keep up-to-date records”
Essential oils are “essential” because they contain the “essence” of the plant, meaning the taste or odor. These popular oils have legitimate therapeutic use and the science to back it up. Although the exact benefit depends on the oil in question, some have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Others can affect cognitive function, mood, and memory. Some can even help alleviate sore muscles and joints. The first oil I bought was my trusty Nag Champa. It brings me back to incense burning at Singing Dawg – the record store in my childhood hometown. It’s also the most common scent in head shops and yoga studios. I like the way it smells, and prefer the oil to burning incense. Here’s a list of some essential oils in my potion collection that I use topically only and the benefit descriptors I would apply. I don’t use a diffuser since reading about how it might be dangerous for my dog who is four pounds of best friend. Also, I am not a doctor, certified herbalist, medical professional, nor essential oil rep. These statements have not been approved or evaluated by the FDA and none of this should be considered treatment or diagnosis. Just my current stash and what I’ve found through using them diluted in my home and topically.
- Bergamot: Uplifting, makes me smile as I inhale it, deodorizing
- Eucalyptus: Purifying, invigorating, balancing, cooling
- Lavender: Relaxing, soothing, I spray this on my pillow
- Lemon: Energizing, uplifting, refreshing, makes me want a lemonade
- Nag Champa: Rooting, masking of body odor and elicit drug odors (allegedly)
- Patchouli: Masking of body odor, uplifting, soothing, for inducing desires of twirling
- Peppermint: Revitalizing, refreshing, energizing, cooling
- Pink Grapefruit: uplifting, I used this edible one in homemade lip balm holiday gifts
- Rosemary: Clarifying, warming, invigorating
- Sweet Orange: Cheering, refreshing, uplifting
- Tea Tree Oil: Treating pimples and acne, as an anti-fungal for nails and feet, skin refresher
- Ylang Ylang: Sensual, euphoric, romantic, alluring, exotic, my lure scent…
These little mood potions have brought about many rewards for friends. Here are some essential oil stories from some YoGoGirls’ friends who integrate oils into their daily lives:
Vanessa Montenegro’s essential oils story:
As I grow and learn new things, move my body, take time to find a flow in breath, and fuel up with powerful pant-based products, I feel these invisible switches flip on inside me. Switches for energy, creativity, connection and ease that had been dormant, hanging out in there, are now on.
When the tough get going on the road, they grab oils! As a runner and yoga teacher I use essential oils daily. Essential oils are made by steam-distilling or cold-pressing plant material. More then just pleasant smells – essential oils cause a physical effect in our bodies. Because of the complexities of the human brain, certain aromas can elicit emotions by triggering memories and stimulating emotional responses. This concept, known as the “Proust Phenomenon”, suggests that although we all have different memories and experiences, everyone has the ability to experience a distinct response when inhaling aromas. This internal response acts as an “aromatic pathway” that connects the aroma to different areas of the brain, thus triggering an emotional response. When we inhale a distinct aroma, the scent is processed through the brain’s olfactory system, the sensory system responsible for controlling our sense of smell. The olfactory system is connected to the limbic system, an area of the brain where memories and emotions are stored. At this point, the limbic system produces a distinct response to the aroma based on memories that are associated with the particular smell—creating a rush of feelings that follow. Essential oils can produce responses that can be used to enhance well-being and manage emotions.
Andrea Wren’s essential oil story:
I got my first whiff of an essential oil during a massage then went on to purchase my first blend, Chill Pill, which I mixed with Epsom salt for bath time but I didn’t get serious about essential oils until another massage.
I experienced a major bout of congestion last year. A month before the congestion appeared, I booked a massage session and thought my stint with congestion and watery eyes would be short-lived but I found myself close to the date of the appointment and still acutely congested but not wanting to cancel at the last minute.
Upon arrival, I let the therapist know about the congestion and she told me there were several adjustments she could make to help me breathe better and she also gave me essential oils to rub on my chest; it was the first time that I had been able to breathe comfortably in a long time.
Since I’d had several reactions to allergy medicines, I decided to deal with congestion with oils; my go-to ones are lemon, peppermint and lavender.
At night, I like the fragrances, gentle percolating and soft colors that emanate from my diffuser. Nowadays, I put oil in my car diffuser before heading out and when I get to work, I put a few drops of lemon or grapefruit in my jewelry then I lean in the direction of my bracelet and take a deep breath.
Theresa Jones’ essential oils story:
My family started using essential oils four years ago for a chronic ear issue my daughter was having. After months of struggle, and missed surgeries due to the severity of her issues, we decided to give oils a shot.
They not only worked, but completely changed our lives. If applying and diffusing oils gave her the body the support it needed to be healthy… what were we doing that was having a negative effect on our health? Turns out, a LOT.
My journey with oils changed from addressing things that were wrong to wanting to support and encourage optimum function in all my body systems. Sleep, stress, emotions, working out, body care, cleaning products – we use oils in and for all of these things, and are by far the healthiest we have ever been. I love having options to care for my body at my fingertips in the form of concentrated and pure essential oils.
As my healthy and fitness journey continues I know I’ll have new needs arise (I’m nursing a badly sprained ankle currently), and I’m so grateful for the tool and benefits essential oils will provide me along the way!
- “Essential oils.” National Library of Medicine (n.d.): n.pag. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.
- “Emotional Aromatherapy: Psychology Meets Chemistry”
Theresa Jones is a hope spreader. Encourager. Wellness advocate. Wife + Mama. Jesus follower. Leader of Just A Little Drop.
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