Blog : brain

Why I think essential oils are rad! Part I

Why I think essential oils are rad! Part I

I was an essential oil skeptic. I thought, “How in the world can smelling something pretty help me emotionally – let alone physically.” I went to one of those parties dead-set not to buy a thing. After trying them, I bought a set. Soon, I was staying up way too late to read about the science behind these mysterious oils. Now, I have a full-on collection.

With copious amounts of research, I began to understand what comprises an essential oil. Yes, they often smell good, but they are also so much more!

There are a few different ways to use essential oils, including aromatically, topically and internally*.

Additionally, they support multiple health domains – physical, emotional and spiritual.

Let’s begin, in the first article in a 3-part series, with their typical association, how they smell.


Humans are ten thousand times more capable of smelling than tasting, and we experience scent long before it reaches our cognitive brains. In fact, scent is the only sense (of the five senses) that relays messages directly to the limbic system of the brain – the “emotional and memory center” – and bypasses the slower cortex.

This is why the brain establishes a strong emotional connection between certain smells and memories, and why scent can access the unconscious (what we typically term that which is less accessible by the cortex) and can conjure almost visceral imagery and associations.

Brain tidbit: Smell stimulates the olfactory bulb, which converts the information into a neural code. This code is then, in turn, relayed to the limbic system of the brain (emotional center), the hippocampus (short-term memory center), the hypothalamus (long-term memory), the pituitary gland (master gland) and other endocrine glands. These glands secrete hormones in response, which can restore hormonal balance depending on the initial code, aka the scent, inputted into the system. In short, essential oils have the capacity to alter chemical messages, relayed within the limbic system of the brain!

The Brand I Trust

Rarely do I promote a specific product. However, I going to make an exception here. I use and, can highly recommend, doTERRA for multiple reasons, but my top 3 are:

1) Quality (you can rest assured these oils are not adulterated – aka “cut” – to reduce costs),

2) Sustainable and ethical harvesting through their co-impact sourcing, and

3) A corporate culture of caring with numerous initiatives underway (doTERRA Healing Hands Foundation, a non-profit seeking to free the world of disease and poverty and “ultimately empower impoverished communities with the tools needed to become self-reliant”).

And, one more for good measure – their science is extremely impressive! And, you know I like that!

To learn more, feel free to contact me or click here.

Stay tuned for our next article that explores the science behind topical usage.


Dayna Wood Creative Life Coach

Dayna Wood, EdS, LMHC, NBCC, REAT

Dayna is the founder of Integrative Counsel, where she shows stressed-out professionals how to reignite their innate creative wisdom and spark new meaning and adventure in their lives through the power of brain science. She delights in combining out-of-the-box thinking with solid scientific research, so her clients get the best of both worlds. Take the 7 Day Creative Brain Challenge to reclaim and recharge your creativity – in 10 minutes a day or less!

How to Bust Out of a Rut in 3 Easy Steps

How to Bust Out of a Rut in 3 Easy Steps

Feeling uninspired at the job? Bored with your relationship? Daily grind got ya down? Don’t panic! It’s normal to get stuck in a rut every now and then. By definition, a “rut” is “a habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive but is hard to change.” Here are 3 simple ways to breathe life back into a situation that has lost its oomph and bust out of that rut!

1) Switch up your routines.

Doing everyday tasks a little differently helps awaken your brain to the present moment, fresh perspectives and creative solutions. So go ahead and put on your right shoe before your left; brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand; alter your commute; and once you get to your destination, be sure to open the door without using your hands!!

2) Bust a new move.

If you’re a ballerina, take a tennis lesson. If you haven’t shaken your groove thang in twenty years, hit up You Tube for a ‘how to crunk dance in three easy steps.’ Gym rat? Take a Yin Yoga class. Our brains grow by trying new things. When you challenge mind and body in new and uncomfortable ways, the growth is exponential. That narrow rut won’t be able to hold you.

3) Send out an SOS!

Ruts thrive in isolation and the notion that you have to handle everything on your own. You may convince yourself that it’s more hassle to involve others even as the rut seems to close in around you. Start with a trusted friend. Tell them you’re stuck in a rut and ask them to help you shake things up by planning a surprise day together where you do something out of the ordinary. Take it to the next level by being blindfolded during the car ride. Letting go of being in control, trusting another person, and engaging some of your lesser used senses will catapult you of that rut!

There are countless little and large ways to ease or thrust yourself out of a rut. An easy way to remember the rut remedies are: wake up, shake up & join up. Ask yourself the following 3 questions: “what tweaks to my routine wake me up to the present moment; what new movements (or sounds or colors) can I make that will shake up the dullness of my comfort zone; and, who can I call on to help me reconnect with my aliveness and creativity?” Go forth and bust a rut, and let us know how it goes!

* If you liked this article, you might like our retreats.


Camille-Headshot-1 Camille Bianco MA, NCC

Camille Bianco MA, NCC earned her Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology & Art Therapy from Naropa University. She began formal training in Art Therapy and Meditation in 2000 and continues to incorporate researched-based creative expression and mindfulness approaches into her professional consulting practices. Connect with Camille on Goolge+.

Creativity & the Brain

Creativity & the Brain

Why and how does creativity affect the brain?

It feels different when we are in a “creative flow” and this is due to the structure of the brain. The brain is divided both vertically and horizontally. There are three distinct, but interconnected, hierarchies of the human brain that evolved overtime. They are

1) the brainstem (our “lizard brain”),

2) the limbic system (our “mammalian brain”) and

3) the neocortex (what makes us human).

The brainstem is like our autopilot. It controls the things we don’t have to “think” about such as balance and heart rate. The limbic system is the source of our emotions and instincts, and the neocortex is only in the brain of higher mammals. The prefrontal cortex (PFC), at the front of the neocortex, is responsible for cognition and reasoning.

Our brain is also organized horizontally and is divided into two hemispheres,

connected by the corpus callosum. The left hemisphere specializes in language, logic and facts. It is linear and conscious. The right hemisphere is the seat of emotion and is non-linear. It is beneath consciousness. One of the extraordinary aspects of creative expression is that it bypasses rational thought and logical assumptions.

Creative expression

targets the right hemisphere and limbic system of the brain, which are visual, sensory and emotional in nature. (The right prefrontal cortex is deeply connected to the limbic areas of the brain and is central to affect regulation.)This allows art and imagery to circumvent psychological resistance, which is typically analytic in nature. The Arts (in all their forms) also allow for the externalization of these very inner experiences and gives them shape and form outside the body and mind. Creativity gives expression to that which cannot, because of the structure of the brain, be spoken. This, in turn, provides opportunity to re-imagine concepts of self and identity. Scientists have also discovered that the very act of creating – integrating the brain both vertically and horizontally – reduces anxiety, depression and pain, decreases blood pressure, strengthens immune functioning and improves attention and concentration.

* If you liked this article, you might like our upcoming retreats.


Dayna Wood, EdS, REAT

Dayna is the founder of Integrative Counsel, where she shows stressed out professionals how to reignite their creativity and spark new meaning and adventure in their lives through the power of brain science. Take the 7 Day Creative Brain Challenge to reclaim and recharge your creativity – in 10 minutes a day or less!