Essential Oils and your Emotions

One of the greatest powers of essential oils is their ability to affect our emotions. Most of us have experienced the uplifting aroma of citrus or coffee in the morning, the soothing scent of lavender or chamomile tea, the homey comforting aroma of ginger, cloves, and cinnamon baking in an apple pie in the fall, or the romance of floral scents like rose or jasmine. Scents evoke strong emotions and are closely linked with our deepest memories, and we can use this to our advantage throughout our days. In addition, when you inhale essential oils, the molecular components are absorbed by your body and giving you for systemic therapeutic effects.

There is good science to explain why scent is so closely connected with emotion and memory. The nerves that carry scent from our noses to our brains are called the olfactory nerves. The area of the brain where the olfactory nerves travel overlaps with the limbic system in the brain where emotions and memories are stored. At this point, the limbic system produces a distinct response to the aroma based on memories that are associated with the particular smell—creating a rush of feelings that follow. Essential oils can produce responses that can be used to enhance well-being and manage emotions.

Just as scents can trigger emotions and memories, the memories and emotion associated with certain smells can have a positive or negative effect.  For instance, my mother used a certain face cream when she was in her 20s. The cream had a pleasant floral fragrance which would normally be calming and reassuring. When she was about 28, she became very ill with gallstones. Before she became so ill that she had to seek medical care the smell of her cream made her extremely nauseated. Once she had surgery and recuperated, she was never able to use that brand of cream again because her association with her illness was so great it would make her nauseated whenever she smelled it.

I don’t recommend using an oil that elicits negative feelings or that you don’t like the aroma of. Use the following guides as a starting point and experiment to find the essential oils that give you the effect you are looking for.

The following is a list of general categories of essential oils, their main constituents, and their usual effects. Use it as a guide for choosing the essential oils to support your emotional needs.

Essential Oils Constituents Effects
Mints ketones and alcohols uplifting and energizing
Citrus monoterpenes uplifting and revitalizing
Spices ethers and esters renewing and intriguing
Herbs/grasses phenols comforting and soothing
Trees/woods alcohols grounding and balancing
Florals esters calming and reassuring

 

And here are more specific recommendations for which essential oils to use for emotional states you might want to address.

Essential Oils for Anger Management

  • Bergamot
  • Jasmine
  • Orange
  • Patchouli
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang Ylang

Essential Oils for Anxiety

  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver

Essential Oils for Confidence

  • Bay Laurel
  • Bergamot
  • Cypress
  • Grapefruit
  • Jasmine
  • Orange
  • Rosemary

Essential Oils for Depression

  • Bergamot
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit
  • Helichrysum
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang Ylang

Essential Oils for Fatigue, Exhaustion and Burnout

  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Black Pepper
  • Clary Sage
  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Helichrysum
  • Jasmine
  • Lemon
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver

Essential Oils for Fear

  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Grapefruit
  • Jasmine
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver

Essential Oils for Grief

  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • Helichrysum
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver

Essential Oils for Happiness and Peace

  • Bergamot
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang Ylang

Essential Oils for Insecurity

  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Frankincense
  • Jasmine
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver

Essential Oils for Irritability

  • Lavender
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Sandalwood

Essential Oils for Loneliness

  • Bergamot
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Helichrysum
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rose

Essential Oils for Memory and Concentration

  • Basil
  • Black Pepper
  • Cypress
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary

Essential Oils for Panic and Panic Attacks

  • Frankincense
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Rose

Essential Oils for Stress Reduction

  • Bergamot
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang Ylang

 

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