How does aromatherapy work on our emotions?

I was always skeptical about how essential oils could have any real impact on our emotions. When I first started using essential oils it was for a physical ailment and I hadn’t really entertained them as any deeper than that. However, have you ever wondered why a simple smell can provoke a strong emotion or trigger a specific memory? Our sense of smell is our fastest track down memory lane.

I recall the first time I smelled wild orange essential oil and it seriously was so amazing how it took me back to watching my brothers play footy and sharing oranges at half time with them. I was about 5 years old and this was a special memory for me as the innocence and joy of being was real. Oh, and I loved my brothers immensely so anything they were into I loved too – even the oranges at half time.

Dr Hill a founder of Doterra Essential Oils and one of the most brilliant minds on this topic explains why aromatherapy works so well: “Essential oils are simply a mixture of volatile aromatic compounds. These compounds are able to interact with the olfactory (smell) receptors in the nose. Our sense of smell can have a profound effect on our emotions, and simply inhaling the aroma can elicit an emotional response. The smell receptors located on the upper surface of the nasal cavity make direct links with the limbic system (emotional centre) of the brain, where the scent is perceived and processed.” So it would be fair to say – aromatherapy plays a powerful role in emotional wellness.

With our varied and oftentimes high and low emotional levels using pure therapeutic essential oils to support healthy emotions is a wonderfully empowering resource. Essential oils can provide us with a choice to support and encourage our emotional well being by creating a foundation for transformation. Simply, as they interact with the brain they can assist in renewal, regeneration or change of thought. When we deepen with these plants in a bottle we support our body, mind and soul in a harmonious way. Using essential oils for healing can be explained in 5 stages.

1/ Healing the physical body.
2/ Healing the heart.
3/ Release of limiting beliefs.
4/ Increase of consciousness, spiritual connection and awareness
5/ Inspiration and fulfilment of life purpose.

When working with emotional balance and wellbeing often we look first at the physical side of our challenges and omit the emotional turbulence that could be underlying. By sharing the categories of plants and elements with you my intention is to give you a broad idea of how the categories of plants can support you in stages 2-5 above. I have listed quite a few plants/oils however this list is incomplete as there are so many more that I could cover. This is really just a starting point. 

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Florals and bud oils give the user a flow of abundance and love. As flowers are associated with the water element on the emotional level they are supportive of your journey or your flow with love and celebration. Floral oils have a wonderful generosity and open your heart space just like a young bud opens to the sun and sky – your essential oil journey with florals will open your love for yourself and those around you.

Flowers are used to symbolise love and celebration and often when given to others also offer hope, generosity of spirit, and heartfelt emotional support. Oils from florals support the flow of love, trust, abundance, inner magnetism and creativity. Using floral oil provides a way to form an openness and willingness to go deeper into self and be confident in the magic of your inner dreams and desires.

Florals in this category include (but not limited to): Clary Sage – great for intuition, perspective and discernment. Known throughout history as a connector to the sacred feminine and all that is divine. Geranium is a wonderful builder of trust and self-love. It also offers a gift of intimacy and letting go of past hurts where trust and betrayal were at the core. Lavender as a floral provides openness, relaxation, and communication. It offers honesty in a relationship and instills a healing awareness of natural surroundings. Other florals include- Jasmine, Neroli, Magnolia, Helichrysum, Chamomiles and not to forget the mother of them all Rose. Rose gifts the user with divine love, passion and worth. It opens up compassion and self-love and alignment with the universe.
Florals and buds magic is similar to the flow of water in flooding the opening of the heart chakra with blessings, love, and an intimate connection to self and other

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This category of plants opens up the element of air. When you imagine these plants swaying in the energy of sunlight – the air. Imagine the leaves on trees and grasses as you wander through a forest, the leaves are alive with sun energy providing both shade and sunlight. This group of plants support you with energy, healing and clarity amidst the changing of times and circumstances.

Like the sun shining a light and the air permeating the lungs with freshness. When you work with oils from this category you are blessed with perspective and guidance for your dreams and visions, and the seasons of change that come through transcendence of life stages.

Leaves, herbs and grasses include – Myrtles, Basil, Spruces, Cilantro, Cypress, Firs/Pines, Eucalyptus,Lemongrass, Manuka, Marjoram, Melissa, Oregano, Patchouli, Mints, Ravensara, Rosemary, Tea Tree, Thyme, Wintergreen. The herbs in this category such as basil, oregano, cilantro, tea tree in this offer a deeper healing of the heart and physicality and support focus and clarity. Leaves of firs/pines and spruces provide a grounding to mother earth connecting you with your bigger picture and expansion of your wisdom via the universal connection.

This category of plants and oils support several of the chakras – the root chakra for the grounding and connection to mother earth and the sacral and solar plexus chakras for the inner healing via emotional centres of the energetic and spiritual body

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When we use essential oils sourced from woods, trees, barks and roots we are gifted by the earth with a strong connection to the element of Earth. This gift comes in the form of grounding, security and strength. Many of the “Earth” plants offer stability, security and centredness as well as anchoring your soul to the earth – Mother Gaia.

On an emotional level Wood Oils such as Cedarwood, Frankincense and Arborvitae have a divine connection to the Earth Element while allowing expansion of your connection to a heavenward and divine source – allowing you also to reach higher by expansion of your foundation from within.

Bark oils such as Cinnamon bark, Balsam fir and Cassia offer an outward protection much like an armour or the bark of a tree as a protector of the noble and strong trunk of a tree. This protection offers you a healthy development when interacting with your environment.

Bark oils instill self-love and self-worth and protect you from overly pleasing others.

Root oils such as Turmeric, Ginger, Vetiver come from the roots or rhizomes of plants and give you a balance and relationship depth with Mother Gaia and the Earth element. Mostly, these root oils offer renewal and return. Taking you back to your core being and healing emotionally inflammatory issues that may be lingering.

Overall this category of oils or the grouping of Earth oils are considered base notes and can be used in aromatherapy blends to ground the base chakra and remind you to anchor there in a healthy and grounded way. Emotionally this could also be a way to acknowledge, deepen with the emotion present without judgment, and anchor in the faith of the healing from the Earth. This group of oils are masters for use in meditation and spiritual rituals to connect to the divine source and the earth bringing renewal, illumination and awakening.

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This wonderful category of plants provides a two fold blessing. Fruits provide nutrient to the body and often we incorporate fruit in our diets for exactly that reason. However, fruits also have a purpose to nourish the seed within. Their main purpose is to provide nourishment for growth, transformation and new beginnings, a renewal or regeneration.

The association to fire at first may have you thinking of fire as destructive, however, these fruits and peels offer renewal and regeneration through the emergence of the seed following destruction from fire. Imagine the pods and seeds from the fruits only opening after a destructive event such as fire – how amazing is nature in this element. It is at this time the seeds and pods provide new growth and new beginnings. In this space too we can find renewal and regeneration for the inner being – particularly if coming from a depth of darkness or disbelief.

Citrus and peels such as orange, lemon,lime, grapefruit and mandarin provide a zesty life force with their obvious colourful skins flowing into the aroma of the oil within. These magical citrus oils provide renewed joy and happiness, abundance and zest for life.

Darker fruits such as black pepper, juniper berry and pink pepper help you to release the darkness or those things that are limiting your beliefs. Bringing with them the ability to find new ways, new wisdom and insight.

This category of plants also work amazingly well with the chakras of the crown and third eye – creating clarity, cleansing of dark thought and renewal of purpose and strengthening of wisdom and belief.

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Essential oils from resins of plants such as Frankincense, Myrrh and Copaiba have an ability to connect you to the divine wisdom of truth and intuition. These oils come from the resins of these plants and are akin to the tears or blood of the plant. It is within these resin oils that you will find your true purpose and allow you to release destructive patterns whether consciously or subconsciously.

Frankincense oil also supports a detox process for the pineal gland which is that part of the brain that connects you to the divine source or godliness. The pineal gland is and has been highly revered in tradition as the key to enlightenment of spirit.

As the frankincense tree is harvested for its oil it is given a wound incision and the resin immediately forms a tear to repair and heal the incision. Such is the oil – it has immediate and healing effects on incisions of the heart and soul. It is also one that can cross the blood brain barrier and support a neuro protective layer to the cellular structure of the body, mind and spirit.

Other oils in this category from seeds are (and not limited to) cumin, cardamom, coriander, dill, fennel and anise. Many of these oils while providing digestive support and cleansing also parallel this emotionally with cleansing of thought and roadblocks. These wonderful seed and spice oils shower you with potential, self awareness, nourishment and protection. This category of plants is aligned with exploring higher states of psychic wisdom, divine femininity and masculinity, spirituality and sensuality and sexuality.

When using these oils and plants for chakra balancing they can be supportive of the crown chakra, third eye and the lower chakras – sacral and root chakra. In a way these oils connect the top to the bottom of the chakra cord and deepen the wholesomeness.

The element of Akasha connecting the seeds and resins is akin to the hidden space or the ether above. When using this category of plants and connecting with Akasha the hidden becomes enlightened, self awareness develops and an unhindered connection to spiritual realms is encountered.

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