Would you try something with me now?
Pinch the bridge of your nose with one hand and place the other hand on the back of your head. This is the path of a nerve in our head which travels from our nose to the back of the brain where it accesses our emotions (amygdala) and memories (hippocampus). This is the limbic system and it combines higher mental function with our more “primitive” feelings like stress, depression, and anxiety. It is directly connected to our sense of smell and it is why scent can bring up memories so vividly — think chocolate chip cookies at Grandma’s house.
Scent is on my mind this week as I am inundated with the luxurious smells of essential oils. I am participating in an essential oil study this week for stress and anxiety. Every time I feel stressed or anxious, I am to put a drop of Wild Orange essential oil in my palms, rub them together and inhale for 20-30 seconds. Then I rub the excess oil on the back of my neck. I haven’t done it yet because the study just began and I haven’t felt stressed… yet. It won’t take long, I’m sure. I am already planning to administer my dose of essential oil at dinnertime tomorrow because this is my stress-out time for reasons I have yet to figure out. Perhaps I wait too long to eat after I am already hungry. I really have no clue, but I am excited to arm myself with an ally in my wild orange oil.
Will it work?
I have always loved and used essential oils for my handmade body butters and bath products. I luxuriate in the intoxicating smells and studied layering scent to be the master body butter maker that I am. You could definitely call me an addict. When Mom Life came to me and offered a collaboration with Natural Mama to expand the shop with certified pure therapeutic-grade essential oils, I jumped at the chance. But supporting health and wellness through essential oils? I have always been skeptical. It turns out my skepticism was a good thing as I look back through my collection of oils and find many of them not of the highest grade… Thank goodness I wasn’t ingesting and using aromatically.
I recently read a fascinating article in National Geographic about the healing power of faith. Scientists are finding that belief can be a more powerful indicator for healing than anything else. And this fact crosses cultural lines from aboriginal tribes to our modern society.
Do I believe that an essential oil can heal my dinnertime anxiety? I am willing to believe a lot. In fact, I am more ready to believe in alternative methods of healing than anything that modern medicine prescribes. Each decade I hear conflicting information from “authorities” leading me to believe that no one knows what they are talking about. One decade butter was sure to kill you if it so much as touched your lips. The next decade butter was a whole lot better than the butter alternatives that had been on the market for the same decade that saw a concurrent explosion in obesity. Thankfully, I never fall for the hype — thanks to my natural philosophy — and I had been eating butter all along, still trim and healthy.
Meanwhile, kooks spill out of the woodwork with claims of miraculous healing, and, somehow, the kooks make more sense to me – a willingness to go out on a limb seems more believable than the fall in rank and file scientists who aren’t allowed to have any new theories because everything has been discovered. Really?! Isn’t that the point of science? That it is forever evolving? And yet science isn’t very good at curing stress or anxiety, rather the rise of science sees a concurrent rise in overall society anxiety…
And essential oils are kooky, right?
I don’t know. It makes a lot of sense to me. My study of emotion keeps bringing me over and over to the conclusion that our emotional state is integral to the body, mind, spirit connection. I think it is the fourth point in a 3-dimensional triangle. It is in the center—it is a pyramid.
Speaking of the pyramids, did you know that archeologists have uncovered vials of intact essential oils in the Egyptian tombs? Intact. That means that the oils are still alive thousands of years later, kept perfectly maintained in the darkness and sealed environments of the tombs.
What does that mean for our body? We put synthetic chemicals in our body for medication — medication imitating single compounds in the much more complex herbs and plants with hundreds of chemical compounds. Aspirin is fashioned on two compounds of the many compounds in Willow Bark, used for millennia by the Lakota. What is the use of stripping a natural and whole plant whose properties must be numerous for healing to use just two?
Controlling nature? Extending profits? Collusion with the medical industrial complex?
So, yes, I am willing and excited to try my Wild Orange sample for the week and report the results back to you. To answer my earlier question, I don’t know that my body needs anything to heal. I wonder if my mind isn’t the more integral factor in my healing and when I finally figure out exactly what is bugging me at dinnertime, my frustration will evaporate.
I get the power of using smell to access memories — I have experienced this like everyone. I get that the quickest way to put a body under for surgery is through anesthesia. The lungs pull in oxygen and it is delivered straight to our bloodstream. Yes, breath is life.
Will it calm my inevitable irritation at dinnertime? More than food? I just don’t know. We will have to wait until next week, won’t we?
Results forthcoming…Click here for Part II.