• Jan Baker

Nothing but the brain...

It's 6am and I'm sat in bed with a cuppa listening to the rain on the window. My husband has just gone to work (woke me about quarter past 5 - if it's not him, it's the cat!) Scrolling through my Twitter feed as you do, I've just been reminded of a quotation that comes from Hippocrates:

Men ought to know that from nothing but the brain comes joys, delights, laughter, sorrows, grief, despondency and lamentations.

Because essential oils affect how we feel, this means that they also have the capacity to alter brain chemistry. Did you know that the first test on the effects of smell (aromas) on the brain was conducted as long ago as 1966?

If you're still a bit sceptical, what's your reaction to freshly cut grass? Is it, I really love the smell of it, it reminds me of a summer day that I spent outdoors, or uh oh, that means my hayfever is about to start again? And if you're of a certain age, who can forget those famous Bisto ads...?

You also probably won't know this either but one of my cousins suffered with schizophrenia, so mental health is a subject very close to my heart. Did you know that during periods of intense stress, bereavement or when the black dog of despair descends, if you're schizophrenic, links with reality become blurred?

And what does this have to do with smell and aromatherapy? Well, thankfully, familiar smells can be a reminder of a safe world, and coupled with massage, can become a beacon in the fog, bringing you back to reality. Aromatherapy oils in particular, can help lift mood, calm anxiety and hyperactivity, and above all, bring back the balance to your body and brain that it craves. You can't overdose on essential oils. The body will simply discard what it has no use for. And because they're plant-based, there are no chemical side-effects to worry about either. A note though. They can't "cure" anything; aromatherapy as I keep saying, is all about restoring balance.

This week, I've been working with Fewsion (see my blog post last week about this if you have no idea who they are) and I've prepared a lotion with eight blended essential oils for one of their customers to use.

Now me being me, I slathered myself in it before posting it. I have such sensitive skin that if anyone was going to react to it, it would be me. I am really happy to report that as well as having no reaction, I also had something of a euphoric experience afterwards, because I used melissa (lemonbalm) and bergamot (pictured below) as part of the blend. The energy boost it gave me was fantastic. So much so, I went back and used some of the left over lotion the following day. And do you know what? I love it so much, I may just make myself some as a self-care treat!

There are so just many reasons why people may be in need of support. Genetics, environmental issues, internal and external stresses sometimes combined with underdeveloped coping systems. So if we know that smell affects what we crave, what we find pleasure in, what we become addicted to, what we dislike and that it can even affect how we perceive reality in extremity, it makes sense to explore how smell can support mental health too. After all, a familiar smell that creates good memories allows us all to feel safe.

So if you're in need of a boost or some support, don't dismiss essential oils and how they can help. You'll be surprised at the difference they can make to your life!

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