Over the last three months, I have explored how aromatherapy can support emotional (May), physical (June), and mental (July) health. However, to offer truly holistic support, aromatherapy must also support the spirit, the energetic part of us that is not our physical body, nervous system, or the biochemical processes within.
In various healing traditions, this is called prana, chi, ki, subtle energy, or life force. The scientific community refers to it as the body’s electromagnetic field, bioelectromagnetic field, or biofield. Biology, biophysics, neuroscience, psychology, and other fields suggest its existence as well as its interactions and implication to health and healing from the atomic, cellular, and personal levels to the interpersonal and cosmic levels.3, 4 According to Valerie Hunt, PhD, professor of Physiological Science and pioneering researcher into the biofield, the primary cause of all disease occurs first in the energy field before it impacts the body’s chemical processes.5 Therefore, in order for complete healing to take place, we must address this energetic part of our being in addition to the physical, mental, and emotional.
The vibrational aspect of aromatherapy is the part that addresses this field of subtle energy. In this approach, we consider several aspects of the essential oil and plant including its therapeutic properties, the plant part from which the essential oil was extracted, and how it survives its natural environment.
What a plant or essential oil can do for the physical body, it can do for the energetic and vibrational body. An essential oil that contains chemical constituents that are known to be antiviral can be beneficial in removing viral thoughts. These thoughts act like a virus acts in the body, but instead of taking over healthy cells to replicate its genetic material and spread, viral thoughts interrupt our productive day-to-day thoughts with doubts, worries, and fears that seem to grow and spread virally. In addition to selecting essential oils that are known to have anti-anxiety properties, an antiviral essential oil (such as those high in α-pinene like Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens, or Pinyon Pine, Pinus edulis 1, 7 ) can fight these thoughts on an energetic level.
Essential oils are extracted from leaves or needles, heartwoods, resins, seeds, fruit peels, roots, and flowers, depending on where the plant produces the most aromatic compounds. Each of these plant parts can support us in ways similar to how it supports the plant. For example, roots of a plant, like those of the grass Vetiver, Vetiveria zizanoides, that reach over 20 feet deep, help to literally ground and stabilize the plant. Therefore, they help to ground and stabilize us when we buzz with nervous energy. Additionally, roots draw nutrients and moisture up from the soil to nourish and strengthen the plant. We can use these essential oils to benefit our own digestion if we are having trouble digesting and extracting nourishment from our food.2 Root essential oils can help us digest and process difficult or shocking news while keeping us grounded and stable.
Examining where a plant grows and how it exists and survives gives us other clues to what kind of support it offers us. Utah Juniper, Juniperus osteosperma, is an wonderful example of this. This tree grows in an inhospitable landscape of dry, rocky, eroding soil under intense sunlight and strong winds. Its tap root can penetrate 40 feet down through rocks and crevices in search of nourishment and its lateral roots can grow 100 feet away from the tree. It continues to grow and survive when the soil erodes around it.6 Utah Junipers are resilient, tenacious, resourceful, and thrive in the face of adversity. The essential oil from this incredible tree supports those who feel drained by stress and difficulties by instilling its resilience and tenacity and reminding us that we have the resources within ourselves to face any situation. The trunk of this tree twists and turns as it shifts in the wind and eroding soil, but it continues to grow strong. The Utah Juniper reminds us to stay true to ourselves along our own winding journey.
The vibrational aspect of aromatherapy is what makes it a truly holistic method of addressing our entire selves and experience. Aromatherapy can not only address the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of being, but the spiritual and energetic aspects as well. We are unique and complex beings and if we do not address some aspect of who we are, something is missing on our healing journey. When we are addressed as an entire multifaceted being, it is easier to grow, move forward, gain inner-strength and confidence, and to find the love and joy within that helps us live and enjoy life. When we feel better about ourselves, we take better care of ourselves, we connect more easily with others, and life becomes more beautiful.
- Astani, A et al. “Comparative study on the antiviral activity of selected monoterpenes derived from essential oils.” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 24, no.5, 673-9. May 2010. PubMed, doi: 10.1002/ptr.2955.
- Gümbel, Dietrich. Principles of holistic therapy with herbal essences, 2nd revised and expanded edition. Brussels, Belgium: Editions HAUG INTERNATIONAL, 1993.
- Kafatos, Menas et al. “Biofield Science: Current Physics Perspectives.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine, vol. 4 supplement, 25-34. PubMed, doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2015.011.suppl.
- Muehsam, David et al. “An Overview of Biofield Devices.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine, vol. 4 supplement, 42-51. Nov 2015. PubMed, doi: 10.7453/gahmj.2015.022.suppl.
- Trivieri, Larry. “The Human Energy Field: An Interview with Valerie V. Hunt, Ph.D.” Health on the Edge. 28 Jan 2012. https://healthontheedge.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/the-human-energy-field-an-interview-with-valerie-v-hunt-ph-d/.
- “Utah Juniper.” National Park Service: Zion. 24 Feb 2015. https://www.nps.gov/zion/learn/nature/utah-juniper.htm
- Yang, Z et al. “Comparative anti-infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) activity of (-)-pinene: effect on nucleocapsid (N) protein.” Molecules, vol. 16, no. 2, 1044-54. January 2011. PubMed, doi: 10.3390/molecules16021044.