- CO2 + H2O -- complex carb
- Distilled from plant parts. Each type of oil has a different distillation technique, hence why each oil has a different name.
- Volatile – easily evaporated at normal temperatures
- Used for therapeutic benefit
- Not an herb or a tea
3 things you should know about your essential oils:
- What is it? It’s common name
- What is it really? Its genus and species
- How was it extracted? Either distillation or extraction (citrus oils)
How do essential oils work?
The Stress Response:
In your brain, you have a structure called the hippocampus, which is a part of your limbic system. Your limbic system is what controls your emotions, reactions to certain stimuli, smells, sounds, memories, etc. Your hippocampus is what alerts your body when stress occurs. Your hippocampus passes those alerts to the amygdala, which takes the messages and translates them into their meaning. Your amygdala will attach the meaning of your stress response to the certain problem in terms of smells, sounds, images, sensations and memories. After your amygdala translates the message, it sends it to the hypothalamus, which triggers your fight-or-flight response.
We have all heard of this reaction: Fight or flight, but what does that mean? Your fight-or-flight response is the reaction of your sympathetic nervous system when a problem occurs and your body needs to react to help the problem, this causes your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, your pupils to dilate for increased vision, respirations to increase, and your muscles contract. (Here is a great picture to explain more about fight-or-flight responses on your body).
Once your hypothalamus triggers the response, your adrenal glands start secreting epinephrine and cortisol hormones into your blood that causes a stress response!
If you are having trouble thinking back to your 5th grade biology class (I needed a refresh too), here is a little bit of details about epinephrine and cortisol!
Epinephrine – This hormone is your powerful stimulus that helps your body survive when your fight-or-flight response is kicking! Epinephrine increases your heart rate, makes your respirations become more shallow, increases blood supply to your muscles for more power, increases your senses, and even works as a bronchodilator (which is why your use this in an acute asthma attack or anaphylaxis).
Cortisol – This hormone is what promotes your survival when feeling threatened in some way. Your blood sugar increases, it metabolizes carbs, fats and proteins, triggers the immune response, has anti-inflammatory actions, increases blood pressure, constricts your blood vessels and most importantly stimulate your central nervous system (CNS).
As I go on this rant about your fight-or-flight response (stress response), there is good reason! If your body is triggered into a stress response often, called chronic stress, cortisol can start to have negative effects on the body.
As I said earlier, the amygdala translates emotion reactions from your senses into a meaning, decision and memory. (This includes your 5 senses, sense of smell)
Aromatherapy can help the amygdala translate messages that are associated with emotions, especially calmness. A calming affect can lower your epinephrine and cortisol levels in your blood.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!
Aromatherapy can help influence your overall state of health by your sense of SMELL.
- Soothing the mind
- Cleansing the body
- Nourishing the body
- Releasing the spirit