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Calming the anxious mind

· Education

I want you to think of something that takes you back to your childhood, when you smell roses, does it instantly transport you back into your grandma’s garden? What about the smell of fresh cookies?. When I smell the smell of jasmine it instantly transports me back to my childhood, I get this rush of tingles and feel instantly happy. That is our incredible olfactory system working its magic with our emotional part of our brain .

How does this work?

The psychological action of essential oils takes place when the oil is inhaled, and the individual responds to its aroma. The olfactory system, otherwise known as our sense of smell, picks up these scent molecules during inhalation. (So when you are diffusing, or when you use your diffuser locket. The olfactory cells lie in the upper part of the nasal cavity extending into the limbic system of the brain which receives the scent, and within which lies the amygdala, septum, hippocampus, anterior thalamus and hypothalamus. The amygdala and hippocampus analyse the incoming information, and memories are invoked. The impulses then pass to the hypothalamus which regulates emotional and physical balance. Depending upon the response needed, the impulses will trigger different reactions.

* One triggers noreadrenaline which stimulates us when feeling tired; it also stimulates our immune system.
* The raphe nucleus releases serotonin, a sedative inducing relaxation and sleep.
* The thalamus secretes encephalin, mood elevators helping to alleviate low mood.
* The pituitary gland stimulates hormones connected with reproduction, birth, growth and metabolism as well as endorphins which, apart from acting as natural pain relief by inhibiting the transmission of pain signals, also stimulate feelings of euphoria.
The nervous and endocrine systems work together controlling the functions of all the body’s systems. It is easy to understand therefore, why experts suggest that inhalation is the most effective way to use essential oils.

Essential oils for mental health

One in four people will have problems with mental health at some point in their lives , suffering from anxiety, low mood, difficulty learning new tasks etc. Essential oils may be used to help manage these conditions. For example, Ylang Ylang essential oil stimulates the pituitary releasing endorphins which help to elevate mood. Aromatherapy oils such as Marjoram stimulate the raphe nucleus releasing serotonins which act as sedatives, giving feelings of calmness and relaxation. While oils, such as Rosemary act as stimulants and give feelings of alertness.

On a practical level, the oils can be used very simply throughout the day, either by placing a few drops of the chosen oil(s) into a diffuser, or by placing a couple of drops of oil on a tissue and inhaling as required. Here are a few recommended oils to try.
Essential oils to elevate low mood
(serotonin and dopamine)

* Bergamot
* wild Orange
* Sandalwood
Essential oils to reduce the feelings of disconnect or flatness.
* Petitgrain
* Melissa
Essential oils to improve concentration and aid memory
* Basil
* Rosemary

So now we know the basics of how essential oils work with our brains and moods. It’s important to learn how you can use these oils to help create Anchors during stressful times. An example of this is separation anxiety, when your little ones start to scream and cry at the thought of you walking out of that day care room or do. That feeling of anxiousness when we face something that scares us (like the dentist).

We can use these oils to create something called an anchor, or even a positive association or reaction to a stimulus of situation. some of you may have heard about Pavlov’s dog, In this study Pavlov was able to set off a salivation response in his dogs by simply ringing a bell, and that was though conditioning his dogs by ringing a bell every time they were to receive a treat or food, and gradually no food was required for the response and it was the simple act of ringing a bell that would stimulate the response. We are able to use these incredibly powerful oils to help us with conditioning during difficult times.

Just like our example at the beginning where my whole body would be covered in warm tingles and a feeling of happiness when I smelt jasmine, I found another fragrance that would flood my system with serotonin and dopamines and kick start my day into a positive mindset. That was when I would walk to work and each morning would pass a hedge with honeysuckle growing, it was one of my favourite things as a child to pick the honeysuckle flowers and suc the sweet nectar as i was playing at home. I would always bypass my normal route and find this hedge as the smell of this, would set my whole day on a different path. Just like these examples we don’t have to wait for stimulus to create a reaction, we can develop our own stimulus and conditioning. HOw do we do this?

An example of this is for our teens that are studying, try using rosemary in the diffuser when they are studying maths, every time they go to study diffuse Rosemary. Then when it's time for their exam, add rosemary to their diffuser bracelet or to a roller bottle for them to carry in with them. Use Ylang Ylang for Science, Peppermint for English etc. Always remember to use the right oil for the preparation phase to help with memory recall.

When our little ones are scared when we leave, I want you to start creating special moments where everyone is happy, our endorphins are flooding and we are creating happy memories, and I want you to assign a special blend to that. Maybe your daughter could pick that out herself. What oils make her happy? What oils call to her, then when you are about to do something fun, use that blend. Help create a connection between that oil and her feeling of fun and safety and happiness. Then when she is about to face uncertain times or separation, wrap the diffuser bracelet with her special blend around her wrist, remind her that you are right there with her and that she is loved and safe.

If you would like some assistance with finding the right blends for your child, send us an email on

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