I am sure you can remember as a child that you didn’t need to know your mother was baking an apple pie as you could smell it. And each time since then you have encountered a similar smell. You can probably close your eyes and remember exactly how your mom’s homemade pies smelt; and recall how calm and peaceful the emotions were as your senses inhaled that lovely and unique aroma.
Also, just from a simple touch of your mother’s hand, it is easy for us to remember the feeling of security and love and all the emotions we felt … the days of our youth … what wonderful memories they hold! Our brain has an enormous ability to recall such things simply based on our sense of smell.
There is some simple science as to why aromatherapy can play an integral and important part of healing. We have a sensory system in our brain called the ‘olfactory system’ and our sense of smell is a vital part of that system. When we smell an essential oil, the molecules enter our nose and dissolve into the mucus inside a membrane called the ‘olfactory epithelium.’ The membrane is located about 5-7cms above our nostrils. Once the membrane processes the chemical molecules it transmits signals to parts of the ‘limbic system,’ the primary structures within the limbic system include; the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, basal ganglia and cingulate gyrus. The amygdala is the emotion centre, while the hippocampus plays an essential role in relating new memories about past experiences. This is why essential oils are a powerful tool when healing of some kind is required.
Essential oils have the same ability to heal however they are applied: in a diffuser, personal inhaler, massage or even compress etc. Treatment with essential oils must always be approached with caution as a single drop of an unadulterated pureoil is 98 per cent times more potent than the source it came from (such as a leaf, bark, flower, etc.) Treating a client with issues such as PTSD or anxiety for example must result in calming of the person’s central nervous system and needs be uplifting at the same time. That said, it is an extremely balanced and precise treatment using the chemistry of the oils to provide the necessary relief.
There are hundreds of essential oils in the marketplace today that can help ease pain, whether that pain is emotional or physical; a wide variety of symptoms and diseases such as stress, anxiety and depression are just a very small minority of health issues treatable with essential oils. However, only when the complete health profile of a client is known (e.g. allergies, medications, conditions and emotional state) can the use of the right essential oil(s) provide profound natural healing. (knowing what oil is pure is always the issue, which will be covered in another article).
As an example, the topical application of oils such as fennel, ginger and rosemary can help anyone (excluding infants) with mobility issues as they have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. However, carrier oils (such as jojoba or organic almond) are used in a specific dilution to transport the oils safely through the dermal layers and into the blood stream, so it is very common to use a blend of oils for a specific malady. For instance, aging skin is thinner so the ratio of dilution is very important; by using the correct blend of essential oils and carrier oils, they are more easily absorbed and there is no oxidization therefore leading to sustainable pain relief. Yes this may be scientific, but it is very basic at the same time.
My next column will delve deeper into the basics of reflexology and essential oils.
Annette Hubley, RRP, is a Board Certified Reflexologist, holds a certificate in nutrition, practices Clinical Aromatherapy and owns the Ideal Protein Clinic in Bridgewater.
Her office is at 129 Aberdeen Rd, Suite 209, Bridgewater, N.S.
You can contact her via email, at 902-521-1710 or by visiting www.wellnessforalifetime.ca.