The healing power of essential oils
I was not a believer
Initially, I was not a believer in essential oils, or aromatherapy. They smelled nice but, I was like, “Smell schmell. How’s that going to help me?” Two things came together to change my thinking.
When I was a health and safety committee member, I had to take workplace hazardous materials training. We learned about the major routes by which toxic chemicals can be absorbed into the body, including through the respiratory system and through the skin.
We learned that what we breathe in can directly damage the breathing apparatus. Toxins can also pass through the alveoli in the lungs and enter the bloodstream, causing harm throughout the body. Inhaled agents can also cause harm simply by displacing oxygen and producing asphyxia.
We also learned that the skin is the body’s largest organ. It has a total area of 20 square feet. It is one of the main routes by which toxins enter the body and pass into the bloodstream. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study that revealed that even people who lived in remote areas had hundreds of synthetic chemicals in their bloodstream.
It then made sense to me, when I began to consider essential oils as agents of healing, that if we can poison ourselves through our lungs and skin, why can’t we heal ourselves as well?
But what about emotions and mental health? Can aromatherapy and essential oils really help with that?
When I became a therapist, I learned about the role of the bodily systems in mental health. In particular, my training in trauma taught me that stress and trauma are body-mind-spirit experiences and that language, traditional talk therapy, is a limited tool for healing. I learned that it can be very helpful to work somatically, with the body, to help heal the mind and spirit.
When essential oils came back into my awareness, the brain science of trauma therapy and the chemistry of workplace health and safety came together in my mind and I thought, “Essential oils can be powerful tools for healing.” From that moment on, they have become key supports in my own life, and I offer them to every client as a potential tool for self-care and healing.
Heal the body, mind and spirit
Essential oils are a powerful way to support your body, mind and spirit in feeling good and coping well. When we’re stressed, we “flip our lids.” We can’t think straight, and we lose touch with our wiser, more skilled selves.
Sadly, language is not an effective way of helping ourselves calm down. (Ever tried to tell yourself to stop freaking out? Did it work?) The key is to work somatically, in other words, with body-based experiences, rather than language.
Essential oils are concrete, experiential tools that can support us in two ways: emotionally and physiologically.
The main area of the brain that deals with emotions is the limbic system. It houses the amygdala (emotion centre) and hippocampus (memory centre). The hippocampus also an important olfactory (smell) centre. The limbic system plays a major role in emotional experience. Some call it the emotional switchboard of the brain. It is also in direct control of the stress response.
Information from your body’s senses is collected by the limbic system and will affect your emotional state (among other things). You may have noticed, for example, that a loud noise can make you jump, and feel jittery, and a pleasant smell–like Nana’s baking–can make you feel happy.
The sense of smell is unique compared to other senses because it bypasses parts of the brain other types of sensory information often cannot. Therefore smell evokes inner experience–memories, thoughts, sensations, emotions–faster than we can be aware of what’s happening. We can end up feeling a certain way without even knowing why because our memory and emotion centres have been activated, but that activation is outside our awareness.
The good news
Of all the senses, only the sense of smell has a direct connection to the amygdala (the emotion centre), and through it to the limbic system. In moments of stress, we can use the scent of essential oils to communicate with the amygdala and limbic system, and thus our whole organism, recruiting our own relaxation response to help us respond with a clear head and heart.
When you’re stressed, apply a drop of two of a calming or grounding oil to your palms, rub them gently together, and bring your palms toward your nose while inhaling deeply. You’ll get the benefit of the breath as well as the oil’s volatile organic compounds which carry not only the scent but also the benefit of the plant medicine to your body, mind and spirit.
Oils classically recognized as grounding and calming include
Stress affects every system in the body: musculoskeletal, nervous, gastrointestinal, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular and reproductive. This means stress has far-ranging health effects. Essential oils, because they are holistic, and work synergistically with our body systems, are excellent supports for mitigating and recovering from the effects of stress.
Frankincense can be used to support immune function, which is affected by stress hormones. Peppermint, taken internally, can support better digestion, which can be thrown off by stress. Applied topically, it can also help with muscular tension and pain, both of which can be caused or exacerbated by stress.
Essential oils can play a role in emotional regulation, as we discussed above. Tea tree and clary sage can help us breathe better and more easily. (Ever notice how, when you’re stressed, your breath gets shallow?) Stress also affects the hormone balance in our bodies, and there are essential oils such as clary sage and sandalwood that can support hormone regulation.
The holistic perspective begins with the observation that the ‘sum is greater than the parts.’ Thus, the whole organism acts with an intelligence and direction that govern the parts.
The medicinal plant, unlike the drug, constitutes such a ‘whole organism’. The unique slurry of plant chemicals is the material expression, so to speak, of an intelligent being that has learned to survive in a challenging niche in the natural environment.”
Matthew Wood, The Earthwise Herbal
Want to connect with me to learn how essential oils can help with your stress?
I teach free classes on stress reduction with essential oils, breath and movement on the last Thursday of every month in Perth. Click here to subscribe to my email list for notifications of these classes and other free essential-oil related events.
What are essential oils?
If you have used mint toothpaste or a pine- or lemon-based cleaner, you’ve experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. Essential oils are distilled from seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants.
Essential oils serve two functions in plants: to repel and attract. They repel germs, diseases and predators, and attract natural helpers to pollenate and spread their seeds. They do the same thing for humans: they help us fend off threats to our health, and improve our wellbeing.
Each oil contains thousands of different compounds from the plant. Because of the environment, season, time of day and other factors, the composition of the oil can vary, making every step of the production process a critical determinant of the overall quality of the essential oil product.
I like doTERRA essential oils because they are pure and effective. They are meticulously produced and 3rd-party-tested for quality. doTERRA’s oils are harvested around the world, where the oils have their highest therapeutic value.
Perhaps most importantly to me, doTERRA’s oils are produced by growers with whom doTERRA works co-operatively so that all can benefit. doTERRA’s Healing Hands Foundation provides communities where oils are produced with fair and on-time wages, hospitals, schools, clean water, education, and other resources so that they can have sustainable businesses. To learn more about Healing Hands, click here. To learn more about co-impact sourcing, click here. To learn more about the journey of doTERRA oils from the source to you, click here.
How can you get this powerful plant medicine?
Of course you will–and I encourage you to–do your own research. You may or may not choose doTERRA essential oils. But if you do, please consider buying them from me. This way I and my doTERRA family can support you.
The first option is to buy from my doTERRA store. Your order will be shipped directly to you. Click here to go to my store.
But why pay retail when you could get 25% off?
A better deal than my store is to buy a one-year membership. It’s just like Costco but with more benefits. Paying a $42 CAD annual membership fee saves you 25% off all your oils all year long. The best part about this is you don’t have to sell or start a business to get this deal.
$42 one time fee + 25% off oils = BIG TIME SAVINGS
•25% OFF RETAIL
•NO OBLIGATION TO PURCHASE OR SELL
•$42 MEMBERSHIP FOR 1ST YEAR (OR FREE WITH ANY ENROLLMENT KIT)
•FREE BOTTLE OF PEPPERMINT UPON RENEWAL
•24/7 ACCESS TO YOUR ONLINE ACCOUNT
•ORDER ANYTIME, NO MONTHLY ORDER REQUIRED
•EARN 10%-30% BACK ON PURCHASES THROUGH FREQUENT BUYER PROGRAM
•ACCESS TO WHOLESALE MEMBER ONLY PROMOTIONS
•ABILITY TO EARN COMMISSION
•ABILITY TO GET SHIPPING REFUNDED THROUGH PRODUCT CREDITS
•EDUCATION, SUPPORT, AND ACCESS TO MY TEAM’S PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP
I need some help deciding what I need
No problem at all, let’s chat! I love helping people decide on what would be the most beneficial for their unique needs. So if you want to chat via phone, click here to schedule a free, 30-minute call. Or pop over to my Contact page to send me an email.
I’m ready to order and join the doTERRA family
Yayyyy! I am looking forward to walking with you along the path of mental and physical wellness.
Here are the steps to order:
- Click here to go to my doTERRA store
- Click on Join & Save
- Click Join doTERRA
- Choose Wholesale Customer or Wellness Advocate
- Fill out all your info
- Choose your Enrolment Kit, add it to your cart, then add any additional items to the A La Cart section
- Add your payment info and process your order
Once I get a notification in my inbox, I’ll be contacting you to make sure you know exactly how to use your new oils!
I’m Shulamit Ber Levtov, MA, RSW, a counsellor and Yoga teacher. You can call me Shula for short.
I support business women and busy women to transform their stress so they can feel good *and* cope effectively when the crap hits the fan. I have many tools at my disposal including doTERRA essential oils, Yoga, Nonviolent Communication, Focusing, the Tapas Acupressure Technique and Reiki.