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PTSD & The Benefit of Essential Oils

Updated: May 26

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosable, mental health disorder that may occur after exposure to psychological stressors during a specific, severe, potentially psychologically traumatic event or series of events.

PTSD has specific psychological symptoms and can affect people of any age, culture or gender.

PTSD may involve different combinations of

  • Triggers

  • Mood swings

  • sleep disturbances

  • intrusive memories

  • regular, vivid recall of the psychologically traumatic event

  • trouble remembering parts of the psychologically traumatic event

  • avoiding reminders or thinking about the psychologically traumatic event

It can affect the person in the following ways: 

Behavioral: being reclusive, difficulties in feeling emotionally connected to family or close friends, feeling low, negative thoughts, emotional outbursts, irritability, hostility, anger, hypervigilance, self-destructive behavior, loss of interest in activities

Mental: nightmares, triggers, overthinking, unwanted thoughts, negativity, guilt, self-hate, difficulty concentrating

Psychological: frightening thoughts, flashbacks, triggers, severe anxiety, mistrust, emotional numbness

Physical: shaking, erratic heartbeat, loss of breath, body aches, chest pain, feeling jumpy, nausea, stomach upsets

PTSD may be diagnosed if:

symptoms last for more than a month, and symptoms cause significant distress or impairment: at work or school, in social or family life, in other important areas of functioning

The general belief is that most people who go through a traumatic event may have temporary difficulty in adjusting and coping, but with time and good self-care will usually get better.  But without correct help, a person is emotionally scarred for life.  The limbic (emotional) brain is now dysfunctional and not connecting with the rest of the neurological system which will ultimately create immune system issues as well as emotional ones.

The limbic system is one of the oldest structures of the brain. It controls emotions, motivations, mood, memory, the Autonomic Nervous System and tells your body how to respond to surroundings (flight or fight). It is especially susceptible to the effects of fragrance. Scents have a chemical effect as they are absorbed into the bloodstream via the nose and work at a psychobiological level.

Essential oils have been found to be beneficial, due to the effect they have on the limbic system. “They have the potential to rewire the emotional system and close the files on bad memories allowing everything to work together again” (Jennine Stromkins, BCAOA). Emotional states that can be altered by fragrance are: Depression, apathy, melancholy, indecision, despair, anxiety, nervous tension, anger, impatience, panic.

Benefits also come from massage as it eases muscular aches and tension, promotes relaxation, releases endorphins (the brains natural opiates), reduces stress, promotes well-being, alleviate tension headaches, and help to deal with difficult emotions such as anxiety, grief, depression or a sense of being unloved.

Depending on the symptoms and how the PTSD manifests in each individual, there are many Essential Oils to choose from.

A skilled aromatherapist will create a specific blend which can be equally as healing as prescription drugs in the way the blend will reprogramme the limbic system. This can be offered for use by inhaling, in a bath or can be combined with massage for an extremely beneficial treatment due to the powerful interaction of touch and smell.

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