Archives for posts with tag: aromatherapy
The Brain Limbic System

The Brain Limbic System (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s an exercise that demonstrates the power of aroma on the brain and how any treatment for anxiety that involves therapeutic essential oils may improve results.

Perhaps you have experienced a flash of strong emotion from simply smelling something like natural gas. Perhaps a particular aftershave or fragrance triggers a rush of emotions from your past. These are what Dr. Daniel Pénoël calls “limbic brain experiences.”

The American physiologist Paul D. MacLean spent his career studying the brain and in particular the limbic system. He explains that our brain is actually three superimposed brains, which he relates to the evolutionary process. He called them the reptilian brain, the mammalian brain, and the neo-cortex. Each brain is independent from the other two in certain ways.

The primitive reptilian brain manages our ability to survive. Hunger, thirst, sexuality, and self defense are governed by this brain. The limbic system is next. It is called the brain of the passions. It is in charge of emotional memory, food cravings, aggression, and maternal behavior. Our sense of smell is tied most directly into this area—the “heart” of the brain—the area of passion and pleasure. All our other senses are primarily associated with the neo-cortex. Here’s an experiment to show how it works.

Step 1: Think of an experience associated with your sense of sight.

Picture a favorite location. Think of all the words that come to mind to describe it. Get a sense of the number of words.

Step 2: Think of a wonderful listening experience.

Maybe it was a concert or favorite atmospheric sounds. Think of the number of words. How many rush into your mind?

Step 3: Think of a delicious taste experience.

How many words could you think of to describe this taste?

Step 4: Think of a tactile (texture) experience.

Perhaps it’s a fabric, sandpaper, leaf or tree bark. Think of how many words come to mind to vividly describe that experience?

Step 5: Think of an experience with your sense of smell.

Think of as many words as you can to bring back the actual smell you are describing

Step 6: Evaluate the five senses.

Which one was easiest? Which had the greatest number of words? Which came more quickly, and which took longer?

For most people the sense of smell is hardest to describe because it is experienced primarily within the limbic brain, the part of the brain with few logical words to describe an emotion or feeling.

Aromatic signals go directly to your brain without passing through your thought processes like your other senses. Aromas can instantly create a mood, a bond, a liking or a disliking without any conscious thought at all. For this reason aromas can anchor strong feelings, break self-destructive emotional habits, and create relaxing or stimulating emotions that are difficult to manage in other ways.

As you work with essential oils, you will find yourself finding emotional pleasure that you cannot put into words. You may find that aromas you use a lot for better health become extremely attractive to you emotionally, though at first they were not appealing. It will be interesting to experiment with your limbic brain and see which oils emerge as your favorites.
You’ll also find yourself gravitating emotionally to different oils at different times. If you keep records you may learn something important about yourself, your emotions, and what your body is craving.

Natural remedies for anxiety

1. Scan through the descriptions of the “emotion oils” on our website ( Decide which kinds of behaviors and emotional responses you would like to have and order a few of these oils.

2. Give yourself a positive experience with these oils. Anchor them in your emotional sub-conscious by using them during good, calm and happy times. Diffuse them. Use them in a relaxing bath. Put them on your pillow and enjoy them when you’re feeling great.

3. Then when anxiety, conflict or negative emotions show up, use these oils to turn your emotions around. It may start with a conscious process at first, but soon you’ll find your emotions automatically flowing where you are directing them with these aromas. Your thoughts don’t have to linger in negative emotions if aromas can help them flow in a better direction.

4. Go through the oils you enjoy using and try to identify the emotions they bring up. For example, if Heart Song is especially pleasant for you, then use it often in happy times. Then use it occasionally to calm anxiety, fears or grief.

5. Don’t try to reverse-engineer your emotions. For example, if you only wear Heart Song when you are anxious, fearful or in grief, your limbic brain may begin to associate Heart Song with these negative emotions. Make sure your particular aroma locks in the right positive emotion, then use it for that purpose.


December 2012 125

What is Epsom salt? Epsom Salt or magnesium sulfate, is best known for…

  1. Soothing and relaxing sore muscles
  2. Drawing toxins from the body
  3. A sedative and regulator for the nervous system
  4. It reduces swelling (great for soaking feet after a sprain)
  5. It’s a natural skin softener and helps exfoliate
  6. Studies have shown that the magnesium raises serotonin levels for calming and mood-elevation
  7. It lowers blood pressure as well as the negative, stressful effects of adrenaline
  8. When used at least three times a week, studies have shown that it can raise energy levels

For more information see the Epsom Salt Industry Council.

Why add a carrier oil

Coconut, jojoba or grapeseed oil are all great choices to add a light moisturizing effect to your bath salts. Depending on how dry your skin is, you’ll want to add more or less. You can even use a heavier oil like olive oil, but be careful not to add too much of any oil because you’ll deal with an oily ring around the tub. Only add a carrier oil if you have dry skin.

Why try Sea Salt

English: Salt deposits on the shore of Dead Se...

English: Salt deposits on the shore of Dead Sea in Jordan Français : Dépôt de sel sur les rives de la Mer Morte en Jordanie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s naturally higher in minerals and less processed than more highly processed table salt or the coarse Kosher Salt or Ice Cream Salt. These minerals can benefit the skin and body. Look for a brand that’s course ground not bleached. The minerals reflect the qualities of the sea they were taken from. The most famous are the Dead Sea Salts and Celtic Sea Salts. You’ll get better prices when you buy online and in bulk.

Why use table salt, Kosher salt or ice cream salt

It’s cheap and easy to find. The ice cream salt has attractive, large crystals that look expensive and decorative in gift bottles. Large crystals also take longer to dissolve in bath water. Put these crystals in the water early to allow them time to dissolve so you won’t be sitting down on rocks.

Why use baking soda

  1. It’s detoxifying and helps wash away oil and perspiration
  2. It neutralizes acids on the skin.
  3. Helps sooth skin rashes and even chronic problems like eczema and psoriasis
  4. Some claim that it helps counter negative effects of radiation (whether from sun, x-rays, cancer treatments, etc.)
  5. It helps drain the lymphatic system of toxins and infections (take a soda bath at the first sign of illness or after a massage that may have released toxins from muscles or lymph nodes)

Because of this last point, use two, three, or even four times the amount of baking soda in a detoxification bath salt.

Why try glycerin

Glycerin or glycerine is used in soap and candle making. It’s also a byproduct of some biofuels. In bath salts it’s effective for skin-softening. If you are making a bath salt mix that is particularly formulated for softening and conditioning the skin, glycerin is a good ingredient to include.

Why use ground oatmeal

Oatmeal is often used in bath salts for soothing itchy skin rashes like poison ivy, allergic reactions, or eczema. Make sure it’s ground very fine.

Why use therapeutic essential oils instead of cheap, synthetic fragrancesDecember 2012 079

Essential oils are highly concentrated, so they give a strong scent that will not dissipate too quickly. They don’t have the harmful effects that can come from cheap recreational essential oils, synthetic perfumes or scents. Your greatest benefit is to match an exact essential oil to the health benefit you’re after. For example, Lavender for relaxing bath salts. Peppermint or Spearmint are better for a cooling or energizing bath. Eucalyptus is perfect for respiratory issues. All you have to do is go through the product descriptions on  to identify the type of bath salts you’re making.

Be careful to use the right amount of essential oil in your bath salts, generally about 10 drops per bath. In the application instructions for each oil, you’ll read of those that are especially effective in a bath.  Be sure you read our safety guidelines on our website.

Why add dried flowers or herbs

These can make your bath salts appear to be more luxurious. Flower petals floating on the water may give your bath a feeling of greater beauty and indulgence, but they won’t add considerably to the therapeutic effect. That’s what the oils are for. Make sure the pieces are small enough that they won’t clog the drain.

Why add coloring … or notDecember 2012 084

Some essential oils will color bath salts a little, but most commercial products use synthetic coloring … not a good idea for an extra absorbent therapeutic bath. You may want to use herbs or spice powders to add color. Try using a fine ground parsley for a subtle green color, paprika for a peachy-pink color, or turmeric for a light yellow color.

For more information

Order a therapeutic essential oil online that’s perfect for your bath salts.

Learn more about therapeutic baths here.