Emotional Aromatherapy Or How Essential Oils Affect Our Emotions

What really makes us different from a computer is the ability to feel and experience different types of emotions. Emotions are inescapable part of us, humans. They are often responsible for our actions, choices, and they definitely have a serious impact on our lives, our happiness, well being and even our physical health. Until now emotions are still remain somewhat mysterious. There is no exact explanation to what they are and how they are created and what really triggers them.

We all have our unique personalities and unique past experiences, therefor we will experience different emotions in different unique ways. And we will express these emotions in our own way, or may even not express them at all. In any case, emotions have a huge influence on our behavior, our motivation, choices, perception of the world, our thinking and our responses. Emotions can have both negative and positive effect on our life. Suppressed emotions can seriously affect our life by impacting both our psychical and emotional health. And of course its needless to say that suppressed emotions will bring the emotional imbalance and disharmony within ourselves, as well as can create physical illnesses.

No matter of your choice on how to react or respond to certain emotion but the fact is that you can’t avoid having emotions. So what are emotions? From scientific point emotions are complex, multi-factorial responses that are triggered by multiple mechanisms and stimuli. And what makes is so damn hard to understand them is that they are dependent on a multiple factors, causes and situations.

Simply speaking, emotions are our responses to the environment we are in, situations, experiences, believes, surroundings, attachments, instincts and many other factors which affect our lives and our perception.

There are however many ways to deal with our emotions. And the beauty of it is that there is no right or wrong way to it. What works for one person may not work for another. Some people, like myself, find it very effective to do physical exercises in order to release negative emotions, some may find it good to meditate or be left alone, some may want to share their emotions with others, like with a friend for example, some may start having unhealthy habits like drinking or using drugs in order to numb the emotions. As you can see the way we cope with our emotions will vary from person to person.

Experiencing positive emotions helps us to improve the quality of our life and well-being while negative emotions, which also can motivate us to act in order to uplift the mood and improve the quality of life, can negatively affect our psychical body, emotional and mental  health if not dealt properly.

Now lets get to the point, what aromatherapy has to do with our emotions and how it works. Aromatherapy at this point works via olfactory system. Everything is made up of molecules, and so does aromas. To put it simply, when we inhale an odor molecule alone with the air, it passes  through a special patch in our nose called olfactory epithelium. Olfactory epithelium is made up of special sensory nerves that reads the odor molecules and support the nerve cells. Then the olfactory nerve, which carries the information of the odor molecules, enters the brain and connects with various parts of the limbic system, which is the seat of our emotions.

In a time that we live in, its crucial to develop a healthy habits for dealing with negative emotions. The way we cope may and probably will vary from person to person. Incorporating essential oils into a daily routine can benefit and accelerate literally any of the methods you choose. There is a large variety of essential oils available these days which makes it great to experiment and finding the right oil for you in order to uplift the mood and promote positive emotions as well as to help releasing and dealing with negative emotions.

Essential oils and herbs were used for their benefits for emotional, spiritual and physical health long before a modern medicine was established. And probably one of the reasons why aromatherapy is gaining its popularity is that over the years it proved that it works, and now with scientific research and findings it proves more of its effectiveness.

So why aromatherapy? Well, firstly its a natural alternative to unhealthy habits (alcohol, drugs, smoking etc), secondly, it can generate a pretty fast response via olfactory system and stored memories, thirdly, it can be combined with other methods to enhance its effectiveness, and  fourthly, essential oils have their own energy and vibrations (negative emotions have low vibrations when positive emotions have high frequency) which lets them work very well on our subtle body including chakras.

Of course it would be wise to note that it relates mainly to pure and high quality essential oils, not a synthetic version of it which may contain toxic and possibly harmful for the whole body chemicals. There are a number of companies that provide high quality essential oils.

How do I know which oil is good for this or another emotional support? First I want to note that as we are all different, experience it differently, perceive it differently and react differently, so the choice of oils may vary upon our own preferences and reactions to it. However, there are some guidelines which I want to share and think are helpful for choosing the right essential oil for you.

By the aromatic group and chemical composition:

  • Mints (peppermint, spearmint, wintergreen, eucalyptus): contain a high concentration of ketones, which are typically energizing, invigorating, and uplifting.
  • Florals (rose, neroli, lavender, ylang ylang, clary sage): naturally high in monoterpenols and esters, floral essential oils are known to promote toning and calming properties.
  • Citruses (lemon, lime, grapefruit, bergamot, orange, tangerine): high in monoterpenes such as limonene and beta-pinene, citrus essential oils are very uplifting.
  • Tree, grasses and herbs (tea tree, cedarwood, frankincense, cypress, lemongrass, citronella, sage, goldenrod): naturally high in esters, oxides, and sesquiterpenes, these essential oils promote soothing, renewing, and grounding feelings.
  • Spices (clove, cinnamon, tarragon, cardamom): high in phenols, these oils particularly useful for their warming and comforting properties.

Another way to look at it is by looking at plant parts:

  • Roots: essential oils that come from roots are usually grounding, strengthening and calming. These are angelica root, ginger, vetiver, spikenard.
  • Woods: essential oils that come from woods tend to be very centering, balancing and grounding. These are sandalwood, cedarwood, palo santo, rosewood.
  • Resins and gums: essential oils from these parts are often used in spiritual and religious practices, and they also tend to be very healing and nurturing for emotional wounds. These are the oils that encourage the feeling of appreciation, gratefulness, self-reflection, awareness: frankincense, myrrh, copaiba, elemi, balsam peru, galbanum.
  • Leaves, needles and grass: essential oils from these parts of the plant are very refreshing, stimulating, soothing. These are: cypress, pine, spruce, citronella, lemongrass, palmarosa, laurel, patchouli, myrtle, manuka, petitgrain, tea tree, geranium, eucalyptus, lemon myrtle, cajeput.
  • Seeds: essential oils extracted from seeds support the new growth, very nourishing and nurturing, soothing, stimulating: aniseed, cardamom, carrot seed, coriander, dill, fennel, nutmeg.
  • Flowers, petals, buds and flowering herbs: floral essential oils are very calming and tonning, relaxing, calming, soothing, promote a sense of love, help to evoke unexpressed thoughts and feelings, help to bring positivity just by smelling them. These are ylang ylang, chamomile, jasmine, clove, helichrysum, neroli, rose, basil, clary sage, lavender, lavandin, melissa, marjoram, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, spearmint, sage, yarrow, thyme.
  • Fruits: essential oils that come from fruits are emotionally uplifting, energizing and cleansing, they can easily blow away bad pessimistic energy and emotions and replace them with cheerful, happy, bright, nourishing, shiny and clear energy. These are lemon, lime, bergamot, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, yuzu, juniper, black pepper, may chang.

Another way, and this is one of my favorite, is to apply it on chakra system, where each chakra, or level of perception, corresponds with different needs and emotions, and of course different essential oils are associated with different chakras. More about chakras and essential oils you can find here.

  • Root/muladhara chakra: feeling of insecurity, fear, low self-esteem, needy, excessive negativity in our thoughts and behavior (atlas cedarwood, vetiver, patchouli, myrrh, sandalwood, juniper, angelica root, copaiba, black pepper, spruces, cypress, frankincense)
  • Sacral/svadhistana chakra: emotional instability, inner insecurity, feeling of guilt or shame, manipulative behavior, feeling of detachment, sexual insecurity, lack of confidence (jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, sandalwood, patchouli, cardamom, orange, clary sage, copaiba, coriander, clove, fennel, geranium)
  • Solar plexus/manipura chakra: low will power, low self-esteem, feeling of helplessness and irresponsibility, jealousy, low vitality, irritability (aniseed, atlas cedarwood, roman chamomile, frankincense, helichrysum, ginger, grapefruit, juniper, lemon, rosemary, peppermint, pine, vetiver, hyssop)
  • Heart/anahata chakra: feeling of possessiveness and co-dependency, broken or unhealthy relationships, lack of compassion or empathy, inability to forgive others or ourselves, feeling of separation, loneliness (bergamot, lavender, melissa, palmarosa, rose, ylang ylang, neroli, jasmine, inula, blue tansy, black spruce, cinnamon leaf, goldenrod, cistus, helichrysum, hyssop, manuka, marjoram sweet, may chang)
  • Throat/vishuddha chakra: difficulty in communication, inability to listen and being heard, judgment, nervousness (chamomile german and roman, cypress, geranium, peppermint, myrrh, blue tansy, coriander, lime, juniper, laurel leaf, palo santo, saro, spike lavender, wintergreen)
  • Third eye/ajna chakra: feeling stuck due to lack of clarity, living in illusion, denial (juniper, helichrysum, basil, laurel, rosemary, thyme, angelica root, clary sage, elemi, frankincense, patchouli)
  • Crown/sahasrara chakra: lack of empathy, spiritual disconnection, inability to connect with others, sleep disorders, confusion and mental fogginess (angelica root, frankincense, cedarwood atlas, sandalwood, lavender, myrrh, spikenard, rose, jasmine, elemi, rosewood)

Whatever system or guideline you choose to apply there are definitely plenty of oils to choose from and you can see how versatile they are. Try several oils and see which one is most appealing to you (for more ideas on emotional support read my older article here). Or you can use blends of oils. Diffuse these oils in the room, before bed time, use them as a perfume or just inhale, combine with whatever you’re doing for releasing your emotions or working with emotional traumas, with EFT tapping, massage, yoga, meditation, sports.

The only suggestion I would make is choose good quality essential oil. I’m sure you can find plenty these days.

Have a good day,

Anna