ESSENTIAL OILS AND THE RECOVERING BRAIN
One study with mice done by the Department of Public Health at Keimyung University in 2009 in Korea, found that bergamot, lavender, and lemon essential oils are particularly therapeutic. Using the sense of smell, they prompt the brain to release serotonin and dopamine.
JoDee Anderson, a physician located in Portland, Oregon, is also a certified in aromatherapy. She is of the opinion that essential oils can be used as instruments to stimulate and support lasting changes in the following areas:
· neurotransmitter release, etc.
She explains, “Essential oils are volatile, therapeutic compounds derived from plants.” By inhaling them, “They stimulate the neurons in our olfactory bulb, which is directly connected to the limbic system. Our limbic system is responsible for memory, learning, and emotions and is under the control of various neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters most profoundly affected by addiction include, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, GABA, and acetylcholine,”.
So powerful are oils, that they can “affect the release, uptake, and availability of these neurotransmitters, thereby restoring physiologic balance in the limbic system,” explains JoDee.
Essential oils are best used to aid symptoms including depression and anxiety. Generally speaking, lavender, lemon and peppermint are the first line defense against stress, anxiety, insomnia, depressed mood, and lethargy.
Essential oils which help to balance the dopaminergic system include clary sage, oregano, thyme, lavender, rosemary, roman chamomile and lemon. Black pepper, jasmine, rose, and grapefruit essential oils have been shown to stimulate epinephrine which can increase motivation and help overcome the lethargy.
Chronic stress results in anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, weight gain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system; managing stress is paramount to restoring and maintaining health. Vetiver, frankincense, and lavender can be used to promote relaxation, alleviate anxiety, improve insomnia, reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, and lessen inflammation.
Lavender, passionflower, roman chamomile, and vetiver essential oils have been shown to reduce the time to fall asleep, improve the architecture of sleep, and limit early wakening. Paired with sleep hygiene habits, regular use of essential oils can help to improve the quality and quantity of sleep.