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Posted in Mind/Body/Spirit by Rocky Mountain Oils

How Essential Oils Can Affect Your Mood

Emotions. We experience them every day, and they can either be fairly stable or all over the place. Emotions are natural and instinctive states of mind that usually pop up as a result of our circumstances or relationships, and they can very easily dictate our moods. 

Most of us experience a range of emotions and moods every day, from feeling happy or excited to bored, angry, or frustrated to sometimes worried or anxious. In essence, we typically don't experience a single emotion that we can identify on our "Today I Feel" magnet charts. 

While emotions play a big role in determining our moods, did you know that essential oils can also effect how we feel? Just like our emotions can put us in a good or bad mood (relatively speaking), essential oils can do the same. Let's take a look at just how this happens, and how you can use essential oils to change your mood - hopefully for the better. 

The Human Sense of Smell

Did you know that your sense of smell is about 10,000 times more acute than your other senses? Plus, a healthy human nose can detect over 1 trillion different smells! Your sense of smell is also the only sense that has a direct neural pathway to your brain. In fact, your sense of smell leads directly to the emotional processing parts of the brain, making the things you smell and your emotions connected and related. 

The part of your brain that processes your emotions, and to which your sense of smell is directly linked, is called the limbic system. The limbic system includes several different parts of the brain, including the: 

  • Hypothalamus, which regulates and releases hormones, and keeps homeostasis throughout the body. 
  • Hippocampus, which helps regulate long-term memory, focus, and attention. 
  • Amygdala, which is also responsible for memory, emotions, and survival instincts.
  • Septal nuclei, which receives messages from the olfactory bulb, hippocampus, amygdala, and other parts of the brain and is associated with feelings of pleasure. 
  • Cingulate cortex, which is involved in a variety of emotional and memory-related issues. 

Your sense of smell is also linked to your olfactory bulb, which receives and processes neural transmission from the nose, and sends the transmission to the proper areas of the limbic system. 

What Happens When You Smell Something? 

When you smell something, the odor molecules travel into and up your nose, where olfactory membrane nerves register the different molecules and trigger an impulse to the brain. These impulses travel to the olfactory bulb, which then forwards the impulses to the amygdala for interpretation. Such interpretation often involves the recall of a specific memory, or the release of particular hormones or neurochemicals that influence our emotions. 

How Essential Oils Can Affect Your Mood 

Just like inhaling any smell goes straight to your limbic system, inhaling an essential oil will do the same thing. When you inhale an essential oil aroma, those odor molecules go through the same process of sending impulses up to the olfactory bulb, then the amygdala, and being processed in the limbic system. 

Each essential oil is made up of different molecules, which can create different responses within the limbic system. Some oils can trigger the release of more thyroid hormones to increase energy while others can release more serotonin and other "happy" hormones. Some oils can help stimulate the amygdala (which stores emotional trauma) to help release stress or feelings of fear. In essence, your moods are all based on chemical reactions, and inhaling aromas from essential oils can help increase or decrease certain chemicals to change or even out your mood. 

Some essential oils can also pass through the blood-brain barrier, which can enhance your response by increasing the amount of oxygen in your limbic system and promoting the release of certain endorphins, antibodies, or neurotransmitters that can affect your mood. 

Essential Oils That Can Affect Your Mood 

Inhaling just about every essential oil can have some effect on your mood simply because your sense of smell is directly linked to your limbic system. However, some essential oils can be more effective or provide more specific responses. Here are just a few essential oils we recommend if you are looking to change your mood: 

  • Sandalwood: This particular oil is great for calming an overanxious or nervous mood. It can also help reduce irritation, fear, or grief. 
  • Vetiver: This oil is great for promoting feelings of relaxation and calmness. 
  • Citrus Oils: Generally speaking, citrus oils are great for promoting feelings of joy, focus, and greater energy. 
  • Rosemary: This oil is great for boosting memory, mental clarity, and focus. 
  • Coriander: This oil also helps with memory and focus while also creating a mood of general positivity. 
  • Tranquility: This expertly crafted blend is designed to calm overactive emotions and enhance feelings of serenity and patience. 
  • Sweet Oasis: This blend promotes feelings of warmth and comfort, helping you to let go of emotional pain and experience serenity. 

If you ever feel a little down in the dumps or don't feel quite as happy, energetic, or positive as you would like, essential oils are a great way to affect and change your mood for the better. With an oil's strong aroma and your body's incredible sense of smell, inhaling essential oils is a great, effective, and natural way to boost your mood.