Originally submitted for Women Raise Our Voices Newsletter, Fall edition 2023
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Lao Tzu
As we approach the season of waning, we witness one of nature's most beautiful releases. Autumnal leaves display color, beauty and light, before the tree releases the very thing that has helped sustain its life. Leaves are the main organ responsible for turning sunlight into food for our green cousins.
When I think of letting go, or "release" I recognize it is a Verb, indicating the act requires movement and transition. Change or transition may not always be comfortable. While experiencing the accompanying emotions felt during times, essential oils can provide gentle and impactful support to our body and mind.
Working as a certified Aromatherapist, I have an understanding of anatomy and how the chemicals in plants and essential oils interact with our physiology. The use of essential oils for emotional support is based on the biology of our human bodies and our sense of smell.
The sense of smell works because of our olfactory system. While a system is composed of many parts, our sense of smell is greatly influenced by the olfactory nerve. Our olfactory nerve happens to be the first cranial nerve and is the shortest nerve in the human body. The nerve begins in the olfactory cortex located in our brain's cerebrum, and it ends in the upper inside part of our nose. The brain plays an important role with smell because the cerebrum is involved with the processing of emotions, survival instincts (stress response), and memory.
By using our sense of smell paired with the chemistry in essential oils, we influence and support healthy physiological responses. With release work, and in times of transition, we can experience a range of emotions and feelings. While some folks may be seeking to release tension, depression, anger and/or frustration, others may want a feeling of calm, uplift or grounding to accompany them through the process of release. The essential oils selected are for the purpose of emotional support during a time of letting go.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium was selected to help release bitterness or rage that one may not be aware of. Anger may be a difficult emotion for some to experience. An aromatic blend using essential oils of Grapefruit, Bergamot, Palmarosa, German Chamomile, Blue Cypress and/or Yarrow encourage emotions to rise, relax then release.
Myrrh, Commiphora myrrha, has been found to calm the mind, inviting a sense of inner stillness. It provides warmth and grounding and has been suggested to help connect the physical and emotional bodies when jarring news creates a feeling of separation or disconnect.
Grapefruit or Citrus paradisi is well known for promoting uplifting emotions and soothing feelings of tension and frustration. Bergamot, Citrus bergamia relaxes both mind and body.
German Chamomile or Matricaria recutita offers grounding in stress related conditions as well as acting as a tonic to restore health and vitality. It has been found to be calming but not depressing.
Similar to German Chamomile, Blue Cypress, Callitris intratropica contains chamazulene, which gives the essential oil its dark color, and has been said to soothe feelings of tension, frustration, irritability and moodiness.
Neroli, Citrus aurantium var amara, may be used to reestablish a link when experiencing disconnect. Neroli relaxes the nerves and uplifts the spirit. It can provide a sense of calm thereby reducing depressive and anxious features.
Palmarosa, Cymbopogon martinii stabilizes the heart and nervous system and has been distilled since the 18th century. It is used in both Oriental and Ayurvedic medicinal practices to stabilize the heart and nervous system and is noted for its ability to calm where there is tension and exhaustion.
Santalum album, or Sandalwood has anti-depressive qualities. The use of sandalwood is vast, it was used in the Tang Dynasty by Tibetan monks, ancient Egyptians and Vedic texts and is estimated to have been used by humans for almost 3000 yrs. Sandalwood may help to ground and protect one energetically as they begin to accept a new reality.
As you work with different oils you may want to try them in a variety of blends. Inhalation is the most direct route for fast impact. When I make an inhaler, I generally try not to use more than 6 essential oils (plants). You can find aromatic inhaler containers on the internet. It isn’t necessary to use more than 12-16 drops of essential oils in an inhaler for an adult; I recommend less for children, fragile and/or immunocompromised adults.
With topical application, dilute your essential oils with a carrier oil; olive oil or coconut, sweet almond etc. Although there are some essential oils that can be used directly on the skin, most should not be used in this way. This is because an essential oil is the most concentrated form of a plant’s chemical makeup. Most essential oils are made up of compounds that are inflammatory or irritating to skin if not diluted. Essential oils can create burns, redness and many are flammable.
If you choose to apply your essential oils topically to skin, remember citrus oils can be photosensitive. Don’t apply orange, bergamot or grapefruit to my arms if heading outdoors. You can find citrus essential oils steamed rather than cold pressed. The method of steam distillation removes the Furocoumarin present in citruses as bergapentin, otherwise known as the component that makes your skin sensitive to sunlight and increases your chance of burning. Learn more about proper and safe use of essential oils through my website (blogs/writing and workshops) @www.KristinaLdaniels.com
The essential oils I’ve recommended are a place to begin, and I find there is no one essential oil for any one specific symptom. Trust what works for you and if you would like to know where I am pulling resources and information, please check out the reference list. Happy Blending.
Olfactory Cortex, Physiopedia; https://www.physio-pedia.com/Olfactory_Cortex#:~:text=The%20Olfactory%20Cortex%20is%20the,forebrain%2C%20composed%20of%20several%20areas.
Encyclopedia Britannica; Leaf Plant anatomy; https://www.britannica.com/science/leaf-plant-anatomy
Aromatherapy for grief and loss, Untamed Alchemist; https://theuntamedalchemist.com/2014/08/27/aromatherapy-for-grief-loss/
Stillpoint Aromatics Website; Stillpointaromatics.com
Cranial Nerve Impairments, In Clinical Neurology for Psychiatrists (Sixth Edition), 2007; https//www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/olfactory-nerve.
Mikiko Kadohisa; Effects of odor on emotion, with implications; US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3794443/
Queensland Brain Institute; The University of Queensland Australia; The limbic system; https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-anatomy/limbic-system
Gabriel Mojay, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit; 1997.
Valerie Ann Wormwood, Aromatherapy for the Soul; 1999.
Fatemeh Bina, PharmD, PhD Candidate1 and Roja Rahimi, PharmD, PhD; Sweet Marjoram; A Review of Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry, and Biological Activities; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871212