How do thoughts and emotions affect immunity?
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Did you know there is a proper science called “Psychoneuroimmunology” that studies how thoughts and emotions affect our immunity? Don’t bother to retain fancy terms, I know it’s hard, but I want you to understand briefly how this works.
I guess everyone knows that thoughts and emotions can strengthen or suppress immunity. However, that is not quite accurate.
It has been discovered that the perception of our circumstances is more important than the event happening to us. Basically, stress is different than stressors. If for instance, our perception of a situation is that it will never end then we are in our most vulnerable spot.
In the past, stressors had sharp claws and teeth. Nowadays they come in the form of unpaid bills, lack of job security, relationship, or family issues and whatnot. However, our unconscious brain does not know how to tell the difference so it will react the same by generating a “flight, fight, fawn, or freeze” response.
In the past, the stress response used to be completed either with us being killed by the lion or with us escaping the chase and surviving which would mark the end of the cycle.
The issue is nowadays this cycle very rarely gets completed since we are bombarded by so many stressors that we cannot seem to conquer. Let’s say your boss is one, or at least your perception of him/her. Your brain will respond with the same flight, fight, or freeze mechanism that will become a loop since there is no easy way to end the situation. This will lead to chronic fatigue, depression, and other health issues.
This stress response mentioned above is also known as the sympathetic response (yang) and it was developed to save our life. When in danger, the heart pumps blood faster, muscles contract, pupils dilate, serotonin is inhibited, and digestion and sexual activities are put on hold. The same goes for immunity. Who needs immunity when being chased by an animal? Nowadays this doesn’t make too much sense but that doesn’t mean the physiology of our brain has adapted so let’s learn to live with it.
On the other hand, when we are relaxed our body generates a “rest and digest” or the parasympathetic response (yin) that calms us down, slows the heartbeat, and improves guess what? Immunity of course.
How can essential oils enhance immunity?
There is this not-so-accurate concept that immunity only refers to white cells defending against invaders, which is not entirely true. The nasal hairs, the skin, the stomach acids, the hormones, the mucus lining, and the white cells are all playing a part in the immune response of helping the body maintain balance.
Since essential oils are the fighting mechanisms of plants, we could state that all of them have some sort of immunomodulatory effects in the sense that they are anti-microbial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.
In a previous article, I was explaining how the olfactory nerve branches out in the brain and impacts the limbic system which is the center of emotions, memories, behaviors, and many undiscovered functions.
When we smell essential oils those volatile compounds will travel via the olfactory nerve and have an impact on our mood, sleep cycle, heart rate hormone secretion, and memory to list just a few. Whenever we smell something enjoyable our brain already triggers a well-being reaction.
Below we came up with 5 combinations of oils that have an immunostimulatory effect and on top of that can regulate your stress response so you can give your immune system full focus to fight off invaders rather than be busy worrying about money or work problems.
1. Lemon+Lavender+Tea Tree+Eucalyptus
This combination is the best for supporting the body with colds or flu and clearing the air in your house. All these oils have strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial properties. Lemon clears the head, and flushes out negative emotions, Tea Tree and Eucalyptus fight infections, purify the air and help with breathing while Lavender reduces the stress response and improves sleep and well-being.
2. Bergamot+ Clove Bud+ Ginger
This trio is a powerful antidepressant and is equally recommended for colds and flu. Bergamot is one of the most valuable oils for emotional health, while Ginger and Clove Bud have a warming sensation on the body and are great decongestants. Ginger is excellent for cough or any lung issues and if used preventively it can ward off colds and influenza. Clove Bud has a direct positive effect on the white blood cells and is a powerful antiviral.
3. Peppermint+ Rosemary+ Geranium
Peppermint oil is thought to stimulate immune function and it also can cool the body in case of fever. It pairs excellently with Rosemary in alleviating respiratory issues, healing painful muscles and joints, and protecting the liver. Geranium acts as a tonic when the body is depleted of vitality and can reduce anxiety.
4. Lemongrass+ Palmarosa+ Frankincense
All three oils are thought to have a good immunostimulatory effect due to their strong antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. On top of that, they help cool the body when ridden with fever and improve mood drastically. They are also neuroprotective and can release anxiety.
5. Patchouli+ Rose+ Sandalwood
This combination of aromas is such a delight for your senses. When you hear the amazing properties these 3 oils have you will refuse to let go of the bottle I promise!
Patchouli is believed to strengthen immunity and resistance to infections as well as help with muscle pain. Together with Rose, it will produce a higher state of calm and relaxation. Rose in combination with Sandalwood will alleviate coughing and will support the respiratory system. Sandalwood is also a great remedy for sore throat.With love and care for you,
The Oil Stories Team