I love introducing people to essential oils. You probably do too. You know that you are giving them an experience which, consciously or unconsciously, they may have been thirsting for, and that this could be the beginning of an amazing journey of self-discovery. It is as if you are opening a door to a massively interesting new world.
After experiencing a variety of aromas many people ask, ‘Ok, I like them, but how do I use them?’
Interesting question. The best (and most factually correct) way to answer is to say ‘You just did!’.
Now this is not only a really cool reply because it immediately engages them and makes them feel it’s all a bit simpler than they may first have thought … but it also has the great benefit of being true.
Let me explain.
It has been known for some time that the nervous system (which carries messages to and from the brain and around the body), the endocrine system (which regulates hormones), and the immune system (which protects us from harmful bacteria, fungi, microbes, viruses, etc) work together using the same molecules to communicate with each other.
Working collectively, these three systems obviously have a huge part to play in our overall health and well-being.
More recently (10 years or so) it has been found that the skin also joins in this ‘conversation’. It has receptors for the same molecules and also it is able to synthesise and release them. It is therefore a fourth major player in this system of regulation.
This explains why the skin is a place where imbalances can manifest when we are under stress (skin diseases, etc); why skin health is such an important part of how we feel; and also why the skin can also play an important part in improving mental and physical health, such as the immediate enlivening, relaxing and satisfying effect a massage (or a hug) can have.
Ok so far?
But here’s something else: There is another element sitting above this complex dynamic interraction, rather like the conductor of an orchestra: this is the limbic system in the midbrain. The limbic system sends showers of chemicals to the other systems, constantly influencing, regulating and modifying their behaviour. The limbic system is part of the ‘old’ brain and is connected to emotion, behaviour, motivation, learning, memory, the desire to eat and drink, arousal and stimulation, and … wait for it … olfaction!
Yes, the olfactory bulb where our smell receptors are located is considered part of the limbic system!
So here’s the point: when you smell an essential oil you are immediately sending a powerful message directly to the limbic system, which in turn influences our nervous system, our hormones, our ability to withstand disease, and the health of our skin.
Amazing! Simply smelling essential oils can be the first important step to skin health …
So please never feel that the first sniff of an essential oil from the bottle is ‘just to see if you like it’. Whether you like it or not is very probably indicative of whether it will send a deluge of wonderful healing molecules all around your body.
And next time you take the lid off your favourite oil, whether it be Black Spruce, Jasmine Sambac, Palo Santo, White Rose, etc, and hold it under your nose, just close your eyes and take a little more time.
Feel how that cascade of enlivening, stimulating and harmonizing molecules permeates through your body. Pay careful attention and notice where it goes.
And listen to the ‘conversation’ that you have just initiated!