Essential Oils and Naturopathic Medicine for Mental and Emotional Health
Many are struggling to cope with today’s tumultuous world. As a result of recent events, the prevalence of mood disorders has spiked. For these reasons, I feel that it is imperative for society to have access to safe, effective, and integrative mental and brain health tools, as they are currently lacking in conventional psychiatry.
As a naturopathic and functional medicine doctor, I believe my profession has an important obligation to assist with filling in this gap in psychological treatment. By supporting the emotional wellness of our nation holistically, individuals’ physical health will also benefit.
There is an intricate connection between how mental health impacts overall wellness and vice versa. Depression can result in physical symptoms that mirror other diagnoses and those with mental health issues are at higher risk for many chronic diseases, such as heart disease. Furthermore, the earlier one is traumatized, the more negative ramifications can occur on the mind-body. This is because little ones’ brains are still developing.
Recently, a new study further exemplified the detrimental effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The researchers sought to specify specific biomarkers that are impacted with trauma that can lead to chronic disease risk. As the article in Knolwedgabe states:
Fisher and other researchers are now working to understand why ACEs have such impacts on physical health. Childhood adversity, they are finding, has lasting effects on stress hormones, inflammation, brain development and gene regulation. By identifying such measurable physical changes, or biomarkers, the scientists hope to be able to pinpoint which kids are at greatest risk of long-term health effects — and provide a metric for studying the effects of treatments such as specialized therapies.
Since mood and emotional balance is one of my specialties, I have learned over the years what clients find the most helpful. Some techniques I regularly incorporate in my wellness plans are the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), mindfulness and meditation, deep breathing, and various other self-care practices.
One of my favorite tools are essential oils. They provide an integrative and synergistic ability to modulate cognitive, psychological, and mood effects simultaneously. Their mode of actions include balancing neurotransmitter biochemistry, brain electrical signaling patterns, and physiological responses. This is why they have been scientifically and clinically validated to assist with calming, focus, and mood disorders.
Essential oils are in alignment with many of the naturopathic principles. They have multiple beneficial effects which simultaneously impact the emotions, body, and spirit.
Naturopathic Medicine and Essential oils for Integrative Heart Health
Just as we need more accessible, safe, and complementary psychiatric options, we also need the same for heart health. February is appropriately deemed heart health month and heart disease is still the number one killer. Yet, most of allopathic medicine continues to narrowly focus on fixing the end result, rather than addressing it at the root cause. Diet, exercise, supplements, and medication, if needed, are important, but they are not enough to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death.
As I previously wrote:
…In fact a clinical study has shown that naturopathic doctors who provide lifestyle interventions for supporting cardiovascular health get better results than usual care. Furthermore, it is cost effective.
Yet, I believe that naturopathic medical doctors’ “secret sauce” for triumphing in circulatory support is in their ability to build quality, therapeutic relationships. After all, the most important predictor of cardiovascular death is not a healthy diet, exercise, or weight.
Thankfully, this connection between our psychology and biology is becoming more accepted in mainstream medicine. Just recently, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a scientific statement that encourages healthcare professionals to consider the emotional health of adults with or at risk for CVD.
The statement, Psychological Health, Well-Being, and the Mind–Heart–Body Connection, reports:
Based on current study data, the following statements can be made: There are good data showing clear associations between psychological health and CVD and risk; there is increasing evidence that psychological health may be causally linked to biological processes and behaviors that contribute to and cause CVD; the preponderance of data suggest that interventions to improve psychological health can have a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health; simple screening measures can be used by health care providers for patients with or at risk for CVD to assess psychological health status; and consideration of psychological health is advisable in the evaluation and management of patients with or at risk for CVD.
In a commentary in Medscape, it was stated:
Depression, chronic stress, anxiety, anger, pessimism, and life dissatisfaction are all associated with potentially harmful biologic responses. These include irregularities of heart rate and rhythm; increased digestive complaints, blood pressure and inflammation; and reduced blood flow to the heart, the writing group notes.
“A large body of study data now make it clear that psychological health can impact a patient’s heart health, just as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia can, and that improving our patients’ psychological health is likely to lead to reduced cardiac risk down the road,” Levine said.
How Essential Oils Bridge the Body-Mind-Brain-Heart Connection
Due to the fact that our world is so separated and isolated, the importance of connection and effective communication in safe ways is imperative. One way I assist my clients to create resilience and build courage in relationships is by using essential oils. This is because their molecular components simultaneously support physical, psychological, and biochemical healing. By balancing emotions, they aid in clearing blocks that prevent deep connections and living to one’s highest potential. Furthermore, by alleviating negative reactions to stress, balancing hormones, and promoting bonding, they can allow one to feel safer in relationships.
Essential oils also promote cardiovascular health directly through various mechanisms of action. For example, ylang ylang oil has been shown to lower blood pressure as it relieves stress and promotes calmness.
Next week, I will highlight several other essential oils and blends that demonstrate how they promote healthy relationships and bridge the body-mind-brain-heart health connection.
Conclusion: Redefining Heart Health Month
I believe we can do better for heart health than prescribe medications, diet, and exercise. As the AHA has emphasized, we need to look more at the person with the disease, not just peer at their pathology.
Below are some steps to take as a medical community to redefine cardiovascular care and make it more whole.
- Consider the efficacy and wellness benefits of the mind-brain connection and applications from the research of HeartMath Institute.
- Be open to new approaches and bridge valid ones with conventional treatments, rather than heightening adversary between various practices in integrative heart medicine. Acquaint ourselves with “out of the box” approaches, such as the philosophy presented by Dr. Cowen, that the heart is not just a pump.
- Keep at the forefront of all patient and client interactions the impact of healthy, unhealthy, and absent relationships on cardiovascular wellness.
- Evaluate the role of blood type and genetics on cardiovascular risk and how epigenetic factors such as lifestyle, stress management, and nutrition can mitigate harm.
- Promote to the public the use of mind-body therapies and essential oils which can be used to enhance emotional resiliency, stress relief, and hormonal balance for better intimacy skills and healthier hearts.
Stay tuned for more resources on step five above in a follow-up post on essential oils for the body-brain-mind-heart connection.
Addendum: Supportative Resources for You
I have been aiming to provide a variety of information and tools for dealing with chronic stress, anxiety, and overwhelm through my naturopathic blog. A summary of some of the highlights are listed and updated at the bottom of all my latest naturopathic blogs. Last week, I concluded my two-part series on the Havening Technique, which is an additional modality that seeks to calm the brain and soothe anxiety through incorporating touch.
Mental Health Resources
*If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and/or are suicidal, please seek professional mental health support:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (U.S.) — Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Crisis Text Line — Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis counselor
- Lifeline Crisis Chat — Chat online with a specialist who can provide emotional support, crisis intervention and suicide prevention services at www.crisischat.org
Other Helpful Resources
Below are some of the highlights of the many free resources on this website:
- Four Essential Oils Blends for Supporting the Mind-Body and Easing Tension
- VIDEO: How Your Brain and Body Suffer with Too Much Stress & Naturopathic Medicine Tips for Calming the Mind and Relieving Overwhelm
- Video Recap: Essential Oils to Ease the Stress & Anxiety of Back to School
- The Importance of Fun, Music, & Play for Mental Health
- Video Recap: Essential Oils for Brain and Mental Health & Soothing Stress
- 10 Natural Ways to Relieve Stress and Calm the Mind-Body During Trying Times
- Video: A Naturopathic Doctor’s Approach to Thyroid Health Using Essential Oils: Video Recap & Additional Resources
Additional Supportive Techniques & Tools
- The Tapping Solution, A Technique to Lower Cortisol and Reduce Stress- Podcast interview by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald with Nick Ortner.
- Stress management tips and resources
Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.