How Essential Oils Affect Your Limbic System

woman applying balm in her wrist at work

What is your limbic system?

The limbic system is a small part of the brain that deals with memories, emotions and stimulations. The limbic system is split into different sections that work in different ways. The amygdala for example helps record memories and associate them with feelings, like a fun day out with your family and how that made you feel happy and content. The cingulate gyrus connects different areas of the limbic system together, creating pathways for information and brain messages to travel across. 

The hypothalamus is one of the most important and relevant parts of the limbic system, because this is where hormones are formed. These chemicals control important bodily functions like water percentage in the body, your sleep cycles, body temperature and food consumption. The limbic system is a complex structure beneath the temporal lobe and makes us a large portion of your brain structure. It’s functions can affect your life on a daily basis so it’s important to understand how your body works and how making adjustments to your lifestyle can affect your limbic system. 

How do you strengthen your limbic system?

The limbic system inside your brain helps to govern emotional behaviors and reactions to memories. You are subconsciously making choices every day about what you do or say because of previous experience. If you understand how your limbic system works you can begin to recognize when you are making these decisions. 

For example if you are feeling a lot of stress the cause of this will most likely come from a memory or experience you may have had that triggered such a response; getting into debt once before and having new upcoming financial commitments. Now you know where this emotional behaviour is coming from you can consciously work to rewrite this information to trigger a new positive response instead. 

Becoming aware of how your body works in this way can really help to strengthen your limbic system, stabilise your emotions and build a healthy outlook on life. It’s not an easy quick fix and will take time, as with anything. But using coping mechanisms like aromatherapy can help to create that new positive response to your ‘bad memories’. 

What happens when you inhale essential oils?

Inhaling essential oils is the fasted route into the body for essential oils. When you breathe in essential oil vapours and odours the molecules are absorbed by the hairs inside your nostrils that have receptors, these then send a signal to your into the olfactory bulb in your limbic system. The amount that gets absorbed depends on the essential oils ‘bioavailability’, anywhere from 30% - 70% is actually absorbed into the body.

Essential oils largely affect the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which once stimulated release hormones into the body. So if we inhale essential oils with a stimulating properties it will produce a response in the appropriate part of the limbic system. For example lavender essential oil can have a positive effect on your sleep, by relaxing your muscles and allowing you to fall asleep easier, this is a decision made by your body in the limbic system once you’ve inhaled lavender essential oil vapours. 

Aromatherapy effects on the brain

It’s important to note that too much of anything is never good for you, your brain needs variety to distinguish one thing from the other. It’s always best to use essential oils from a trusted source and in small doses, or with a carrier oil. At Scentered we create candles and balms with essential oils to use in aromatherapy practises and rituals. Essential oils in these forms make it easy to incorporate the benefits of essential oils on your limbic system into your lifestyle. Relax at home with a candle or on the go with our balms.