On my podcast, I had an incredible talk with essential oil expert, Jodi Sternoff Cohen. We talked about some of the wonderful properties of essential oils. They can help lift our moods, relieve chronic stress, detoxify our organs, and bring us into healing states.
Essential oils are the concentrated essences of plants. These aromatic oils are extracted through distillation. Almost any part of the plant can be used. Herbs, fruits, flowers, stems, barks, leaves… all of these can be distilled down into essential oils.
These oils are filled with the plant’s healing properties. We can apply them topically or simply inhale their wonderful aromas.
Balancing our Nervous System
Oils help us heal in many ways. One thing they do is show our bodies what balance looks like.
When we’re under stress, hormones like cortisol and adrenaline spike. Chronic stress triggers inflammation, depression, anxiety, and can lead to chronic illness.
Simply relieving the stress doesn’t always help. When stressful situations end, these hormones can leave us feeling drained, depleted, and exhausted.
Once stressors are alleviated, we need to know how to bring ourselves back into balance.
The Parasympathetic Healing State
Have you heard of the parasympathetic state? It’s a more clinical way of describing when your body is in a state of calm, relaxation, and general ease. The parasympathetic nervous system controls this.
It slows our heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and takes us out of the stressful fight or flight response.
This system interfaces with our body, via the vagus nerve. This is the largest single nerve in our bodies. The vagus nerve begins in the brain, weaves through our bodies, and ends near the colon.
Stimulating the vagus nerve helps bring us into the parasympathetic state. Surgeons will even implant medical devices under the skin, to electrically stimulate this nerve. This can reduce depression, lower inflammation, and boost the immune system.
Another option is to simply apply certain essential oils, in areas where the vagus nerve is closer to the skin. This will then stimulate it to bring us into a parasympathetic healing state.
Essential Oils for System Balance
Essential oils bring us into balance by matching the blueprint of wellness. They remind our systems how to function, restoring homeostasis, and giving us the energy to heal.
We need to stimulate the vagus nerve, to induce the parasympathetic state. Highly stimulatory essential oils with very fine molecules are perfect for this.
Jodi’s favourite parasympathetic blend is clove and lime. You can apply this behind the ears or on your lower back, to reach the adrenals.
We can also use gentle soothing oils like lavender or chamomile. Look for lavenders grown at higher altitudes. These contain more polyphenols, anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Essential oils help us support detoxification, by encouraging our bodies to open up drainage channels.
When we detox, we mobilise toxins out of our tissues and systems. If our lymphatic fluid isn’t moving properly, these toxins won’t be eliminated. They may even end up redistributing in worse ways.
Essential oils help to flush congestion. They shepherd the toxins out of our bodies.
This prevents symptoms like acne, hives, and rosacea.
We can use almost any oil to reduce panic and anxiety, with a simple breathing technique. Close your right nostril, then breathe the oil in through your left. This stimulates the left frontal lobe, which brings both hemispheres into balance.
Blue Tansy is an excellent oil for our minds. It helps us move emotions, release frustration, and let go of anger.
Applying and Using Your Oils
Essential oils are quite powerful. If you’re pregnant, take medications, or have any pre-existing health conditions, you may want to check if any oils you use for contraindications.
That aside, here are a few guidelines to follow.
First, always follow your own intuition when using oils. Don’t assume that an aversion to an oil means that your body needs it. Listen to yourself, trust your instincts, and go with what you feel is best.
You can also use kinesiology techniques like muscle testing.
Some oils are considered hot. This means they must be diluted before application to the skin. Dilute them as much as you need to but try not to over-dilute.
Oils like frankincense and lavender are generally considered safe for direct application, Jodi advises. These oils are incredible for soothing and repairing skin.
You should always do a small patch test to see how you respond to individual oils.
If an essential oil irritates your skin, apply a natural carrier oil like coconut, olive, or almond to that area. Since oil and water don’t mix, trying to rinse your skin off with water can drive the essential oil further in.
Where to Apply
You can, of course, apply oils anywhere you like. Or you may want to try certain areas like pulse points, acupressure points, glands, or nerve zones.
Pulse points are areas close to major blood vessels. This is good for getting oils into the bloodstream and enhancing aromatherapy.
Acupressure points are found throughout our body. They unblock, stimulate, and balance our body’s life energy. Combining acupressure with aromatherapy can enhance the benefits of both practices.
The vagus nerve is closest to the surface, right behind your ear. You can apply a stimulatory oil here when you need to calm down.
You can also apply essential oils to the area in front of an organ or gland you’d like to treat. The adrenals are in our lower back. Try applying some Jodi’s clove and lime blend the next time you feel drained.
Adding essential oils to a nice, warm bath is a lovely way to relax. Your pores open up, receiving the wonderful properties and you benefit from some aromatherapy.
If you like to use Epsom salts, try this special tip from Jodi. Add the salt into the bath first, then mix the oils in on top of it. Once that’s done, turn on the water. This way, the oils will be evenly dispersed throughout the bathwater.
We’re all unique as individuals, but our basic biological functions remain the same. This makes it easy to find an oil likely to work for you. You can simply look up a condition or effect you want, to find suggestions for blending or using alone.
There are also many lovely blends available to purchase. Jodi has some if you’d prefer to get one ready-made.
You can discover more about essential oils in Jodi’s newest book, Essential Oils to Boost the Brain and Heal Your Body. She’s also made a chapter available for free.
To find out more about wellness, acupressure and Face Yoga you may like my book Danielle Collins’ Face Yoga.