By Lisa Greenbaum, E-RYT 500
Our sense of smell is the only direct communication our brain has with the external world. It is precisely why we are instantly transported back in time when different smells waft through the air, warming our hearts with fond memories or sending us into a flashback and kick starting our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode). The olfactory bulb is responsible for this and is located in the limbic part of our brain, where we experience emotions, and also store our memories. Linked to our autonomic nervous system, as an odour is sensed our body responds at a primal level.
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils, derived from natural sources. That being said, at such high concentrations, we must be careful as not all oils are safe. We should look for those that are therapeutic grade and also ensure we are using them correctly. Some can be diffused with water, some diffused under heat, some can be applied topically or need a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil), and others can be ingested. The quality of the oil matters – all it takes is a simple smell of higher quality Frankincense oil, selling at approximately $100 versus one selling at $30, to understand the difference. It is imperative to research not only the oil itself, but the manufacturer of the brand as well, to make sure you are using it correctly and to understand the processing on how the oil has been derived.
From physics, we understand that everything we perceive is based upon its vibration. The human organism is buzzing with vibration and different areas of the body, from organs to tissues, measure at their own frequency. This is measureded in hertz (HZ). A healthy person’s overall frequency measures in the range of 62-68hz. When imbalance occurs, frequency drops and in the instance of disease, is noted at 58hz.
From a therapeutic perspective, we place value on essential oils based on their individual vibrational frequency, measured in hertz. Each oil measures at a different frequency based on its source. The lowest measures in at 52hz, while Rose oil measures at 320hz. Frankincense measures at 147hz and many use this oil as an additional support in cancer treatment. Based on this, the molecules from the oils resonate differently with different parts of the body based on frequency, which is why certain oils affect our immune system, hormonal imbalances, our nervous systems, to swollen joints, muscle aches or skin irritations. Certain oils are also more effective when diffused into the air, while others work best when applied topically to our skin (always use a carrier oil, especially for sensitive skin). As our skin is our biggest organ, we must respect that what we put on our skin is similar to what we ingest as food. Considering that essential oils offer the highest HZ of any natural product, I stress the importance of understanding the brand of oil you choose and their recommendations for use.
As per above, smells connect us to our emotional brains and so different essential oils can invoke very different emotions. If you’re using oils in a public place (such as a yoga class), always ask if everyone is okay not only with smell, but the particular oil you are using. Also ensure that you are in a well ventilated space. Though essential oils listed as 100% pure or therapeutic grade are the optimum quality, and the smell produced is quite different from the effects of an alcohol based perfume, we always must be respectful of those around us.
The following are easy tips for how best to use your essential oils:
- To increase energy: citrus oils (orange, lemon or grapefruit) or peppermint oil
- To decrease energy and help with sleep: lavender oil
- To reduce anxiety: frankincense, lavender
- For grounding: woody-like smells such as vetiver, pine, sandalwood
- For cleaning: lemon, tea tree or orange
- For immunity: oregano, tea tree or lemon
- For digestion: fennel, ginger or peppermint
Clearly, the very best part of essential oils is the smell, to which technology hasn’t caught up for me to provide for you here! Hopefully with this additional info you are inspired to give them a try.
Lisa is E-RYT 500, YACEP and the Director of YogaFit Canada. Known for bringing an easy-going style to her teaching by encouraging everyone to honour and listen to their bodies, Lisa has been teaching group fitness and yoga in Toronto since 2001.