There are over 40 million adults and children that suffer from depression and anxiety. Scientists believe a chemical called serotonin may be responsible for maintaining mood balance. This chemical carries a signal alongside and between nerves (a neurotransmitter), and it is thought to be especially active in regulating and contributing to wellbeing and happiness. Some think that having too little of this chemical can lead to depression while too much of it can lead to anxiety.
In the 2015 February issue of Biological Psychiatry, an article reported that a depressed person has fewer serotonin receptors throughout the brain and significantly fewer receptors in the hippocampus, which is part of the limbic system. The hippocampus is necessary in connecting emotions and senses such as smell and sound. It is also necessary for making new memories and keeping older ones. It is the first to be affected in Alzheimer’s disease and when it is not working properly, it begins to shrink. Disorders such as schizophrenia and severe depression have also been known to occur.
Medicinal plants contain a variety of chemical compounds and some of these plants also contain essential oils. When essential oils are inhaled through the nose, aromatic molecules travel through the lining of the nasal cavity stimulated by olfactory nerves and are sent to the limbic system where they communicate to parts of your brain. The limbic system influences the endocrine and autonomic nervous systems. These systems control mood, metabolism, heart rate, digestion and many other key functions that help moderate the body.
When essential oils are applied topically to the skin, the healing components are absorbed by the blood stream. From there, they will travel to specific organs and other systems on which they work. Some components are able to pass the blood brain barrier into the limbic system where they will then influence the endocrine and autonomic nervous systems. Whether inhaled or applied topically, essential oils can and do bring significant changes to the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing by strengthening the body’s natural responses.
The good news is that the shrinkage of the hippocampus can be reversed with a proper diet. Increasing foods that are rich in tryptophan can increase serotonin levels. Exercise has an antidepressant effect and research suggests that it can also boost serotonin levels. There are certain oils that can induce feelings of happiness and help the body to become calm and relaxed.
Mindful Mixtures has formulated 3 special blends specifically for people who are in recovery for drug and alcohol abuse. The oils we use target the nervous system to help balance the body’s decreased levels of serotonin and dopamine. We also offer 2 products OM and PEACE-OUT that are formulated for every day stress that can bring on anxiety and depression.
In this time of busyness, with packed schedules and mile long checklists of responsibilities, it is vital to be mindful of yourself. Take a 15-minute break every now and then, go on a walk, eat as healthy as you can and don’t deprive yourself of sleep. It is too easy to get wrapped up in the every day busyness of life. Stop and take a deep breath, enjoy the scents around you, and take good care.