- ESSENTIAL OILS: FEEL GOOD OR SCIENCE & INTELLIGENT DESIGN? -
ESSENTIAL OILS: FEEL GOOD OR SCIENCE & INTELLIGENT DESIGN?
Joy, peace, calm, forgiveness, valor – it is quite common for essential oil brands (us included) to associate essential oil blends with feelings and emotions. While we know that this stems from the unique capacity of essential oils to support us both on a physical and emotional level, this can easily be met with skepticism.
Personally, I did wonder if essential oils merely act as a “feel good” aroma or could it potentially be medicine with real research, science and chemistry to support it? Do essential oils simply give us a short moment of delight because it smells amazing or is there so much more going on in a few drops?
My desire to uncover an answer to my question led me to write about this in the research paper requirement of my aromatherapy certification and for those of you who are curious to know, (don’t worry I won’t be asking you to read my entire research paper) I’m excited to share with you some of my key takeaways.
OUR MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, SPIRITUAL & PHYSICAL STATES ARE INTERCONNECTED
Either this is new to you or you’ve heard this countless of times since the emergence of the term holistic health but I think it serves us well to be reminded because it can be easy to forget that there is a link between our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical states – that the thoughts we think in our minds, the emotions we feel in our hearts have real physical consequences and creates either a positive or negative environment in our physical bodies.
In talking about his book Medicine, Religion and Health, Dr. Harold Koenig, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences says, “if somebody is in turmoil about their spiritual life or feeling as though God has deserted them or doesn’t love them, that creates a negative psychological atmosphere in which the body responds in a kind of a shut-down mode where the immune system doesn’t operate as well. People get high-blood pressure they have cardiac arrhythmias or the wound won’t close after a surgical operation because the immune system isn’t working as well. Our emotional lives influence these basic physiological functions that is responsible for healing and response to treatments.”
In essence, there is complexity in our design as human beings. We are designed to generate thoughts and feelings impacted by our situation in life and relationships both with the people around us and God who made us and all these do not operate in a bubble. Our thoughts affect our feelings and our emotional state affects the physical environment inside our bodies and consequently our immune system.
ESSENTIAL OILS MOLECULES CAN INTERACT WITH OUR ENDOCRINE SYSTEMS
In an article written by naturopathic doctor Scott A. Johnson, N.D. in 2017, essential oils are defined as volatile molecules obtained from seeds, leaves, bark, resins, and other parts of plants. It has been used for hundreds of years before the advent of synthetic medicines however, one of its most remarkable aspect that cannot be replicated synthetically is its ability to influence us not just physically but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Which leads us back to our question does the aroma simply generate a feel-good moment or is there more depth in the way essential oils are designed to support our wellness?
In the same article, Dr. Johnson mentioned that pioneering researchers are beginning to unlock the influence of essential oils on brain-wave activity. In a study published in the May 2011 edition of Flavor and Fragrance Journal, inhalation of Siberian fir needle essential oil for 40 minutes promoted a more relaxed state and increased theta brainwaves.
Other essential oils specifically mentioned to directly influence mood and mindset according to recent research are clary sage, clove and lemon and its capacity to produce endorphins (neurochemicals responsible for producing an overall sense of happiness and well-being), lavender, ylang-ylang and bergamot in moderating cortisol (a hormone produced during periods of stress), lavender, lemon and rosemary in increasing serotonin (a key neurotransmitter that can trigger a feeling of being in a utopian environment) among others.
In another study mentioned by Salvatore Battaglia in his book, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy: Foundations and Materia Medica, a combination of bergamot and other citrus oils used for 4-11 weeks resulted to either completely eliminating or reducing the intake of anti-depressants for 20 male patients. “The researchers stated that urinary cortisol and dopamine levels were significantly high in both groups before treatment. However, they said that the levels were significantly lower in the citrus fragrance group. They also found that the citrus fragrance caused high values of natural killer cell activity to return to almost normal range. The authors concluded that bergamot could be of psycho-neuro-immunological benefit.”
If you are still with me at this point in the article, I hope that the reality of how amazing these gifts from nature are is starting to sink in. The studies may need more depth but I like how Michael Behe, an American Biochemist, author and advocate of the principle of intelligent design said it, “I think science should follow the evidence where it seems to lead. It is the only way to make progress.”
THE COMPLEXITY OF ESSENTIAL OILS POINT TO AN INTELLIGENT DESIGNER
Which leads me to my last point. The same God who created us and understands our complexity also intentionally created nature and essential oils to support our healing. Ezekiel 47:12 says, “and on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, AND THEIR LEAVES FOR HEALING.”
I may be unable to go in-depth about the chemistry of essential oils in this article but the hundreds of components found in a single oil working together synergistically also reflects a complexity designed to interact and communicate with the different molecules in our body. It can help calm us down, find focus or prepare us for sleep together with a host of other ways to support our wellness we commonly find in over-the-counter medicine.
It seems to me that it will serve us well to look deeper into the beauty of these pure, natural, intelligent and synergistic designs rather than just breaking it down and replicating a single component as we often do in the development of synthetic medicine today. While I’m not against breaking things down, I also hope that doing so will not lead us to miss the bigger picture – that there is value in keeping essential oils in its purest and natural form because these means all the different activities of the individual components within the essential oil will be able to work synergistically together versus isolating a single component and trying to replicate its’ activity synthetically.
What I’m driving at really is that the hand and the mind that created the complex activities found in a single essential oil is none other than that of the creator of all things. Everything we are still learning now, He already knew from the very beginning. His thoughts and ways will always be higher than ours and it makes sense to look to Him for wisdom not just in spiritual matters but even in physical, mental and emotional aspects because He cares about our well-being more than we do. Why else would He design essential oils and all its remarkable healing qualities to begin with?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi, I’m Des and I’m an entrepreneur, certified aromatherapist and Christian cognitive behavioral therapy practitioner. After leaving behind a 10-year career in the corporate world, I took my certification in aromatherapy and started Aurae Natura. My hope goes beyond providing you reliable and credible information about aromatherapy and therapeutic-quality essential oils but to serve you meaningful content that will also nourish you mentally, emotionally and spiritually.