Ahh summer the best time of the year for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the time we’re reminded of how incredibly gorgeous this part of the country can be. The clear sunny skies revealing the mountains ranges hidden most of the year by gray skies. The best part of summer for me is all of nature’s aromatic plants in full bloom.
However, summer can also be a time of dread for many parents of children with trauma because the effects of full time care for a traumatized child are incredibly taxing. It can be hard to be “on” 24/7 and be “connective” in all our interactions with our children. I believe the goal of most of my readers is to build bridges of love and compassion with our children who are standing on a mountain of stress, anxiety, fear, and/or other trauma behaviors.
A child who has been traumatized doesn’t have a reference point for the way we strive to interact with them and what we’re trying to accomplish. They are usually suspicious of our motives as in most cases they’ve rarely or never been treated with compassion. They’re frequently fearful that this new style of adult interaction is not something they can trust. This is where clinical aromatherapy can acts as a bridge to help with building connection.
When you're living with a trauma survivor be it an adult or child you quickly realize trust is a foreign entity to them. This is because chances are their physiological system is over stimulated from stress (as mentioned in a previous blog post). Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is the authority on the biological aspects of trauma on the body and his most recent book The Body Keeps The Score” is an absolute must read for anyone living with trauma (personally or a loved ones) who wants to better understand the dynamics of trauma and human biology.
From the field of neuroscience, we know we have mirror neurons and synaptic transmission. Mirror neurons are the pathway of learning. This is why when we remain calm in times of stress and frustration it helps our child stay calm as well.
Neurons that fire together, wire together. This is synaptic transmission. If the brain is in a constant state of anxiety then every experience is filtered through that state. It takes calming the limbic system to help support the development of new neural pathways from a place of peace.
Clinical aromatherapy can bring peace to the limbic system allowing the traumatized individual a chance to build new neural pathways and healthier relationships. This is where I geek out so feel free to ask questions if I get too technical.
Clinical aromatherapy is an effective support for the limbic system. It helps reduce the cortisol levels from stress and allows for the release of serotonin and dopamine. Due to aromatherapy's adaptability it can be used anytime and anywhere to assist a trauma survivor in maintaining their equilibrium. The length of noticed benefit from aromatherapy support on the limbic system is different for each person, because each individual processes trauma differently. Therefore the effect on their biochemistry is also unique. However, most of my clients average a benefit duration of between 2.5 to 3 hours. In my practice I have observed that following a clinical aromatherapy program to support the limbic system allows the limbic system to lay down new neural pathways from a place of peace.
Most of the clients I work with have trouble that is rooted in the dysfunctional behaviors they've experienced. These dysfunctional behaviors have left them with mirror neurons of dysfunction. Usually, they have also lived in a prolonged state of stress. This prolonged state of stress caused them to develop dysfunctional neuronal processing of emotions by a limbic system (amygdala, hypothalamus, hippocampus, etc.) that is flooded with stress hormones. The hypothalamus releases corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). CRH then tells the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which tells the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
I purposely narrowed the specialty of my practice to act as a bridge between the fields of neuroscience, trauma research and clinical aromatherapy. The reason being is because no one else in any of these fields is conducting studies to integrate the knowledge from all three specialties. It is my goal to be a bridge between these three fields.
It was neuroscientist Dr. Candace B. Pert that stated the limbic system is but a single synapse away from the olfactory system. This gives clinical aromatherapy a direct pathway to the limbic system through the olfactory system. It's as simple as inhaling a clinical aromatherapy blend to start the process. Dr. Pert also discovered the opioid receptor. I wish that Dr. Pert was still with us, I would love to partner with her in a study.
The use of specifically blended olfactory transmitted aromatherapy blends allows the limbic system to calm down enough for the individual to build new neural pathways. These new neural pathways are formed from a mentally calm state that is not flooded with stress hormones. A mental state with serotonin and dopamine at work. This allows a 'new way' for the individual to think and process things that come their way. A peaceful limbic system allows the individual to be more connected to themselves. This now supported limbic system makes it easier for the individual to relax and subsequently makes them more receptive to develop the skill of building healthy, connected, and respectful interpersonal relationships.
©2017 Cynthia Tamlyn-CCA
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