Essential Oils for Traumatic Brain Injuries

by Jodi Cohen

blue brain light

Driving home from dropping my kids at school, I was involved in a car accident.  The other driver wasn’t paying attention and did an illegal U turn right into the rear of my car.

The car sustained only minor damage, so I assumed I was fine as well.  That is, until I started experiencing intense concussion symptoms like dizziness, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

I learned that the less impact the car takes, the more impact your body absorbs.  When you see race cars crash and the vehicle crumples like a tin can, but the driver walks away unscathed, it is because the car took the impact.  Unfortunately, the whiplash back and forth movement my neck and head endured, triggered some symptoms of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Motor vehicle accidents contribute to 20% of the TBIs every year.  And they are more common than you might think.  Every 23 seconds, one person in the United States sustains a traumatic brain injury and 1.4 million Americans survive traumatic brain injuries each year.

What Happens During TBI?

Keep in mind that the brain has the consistency of Jell-O and forward/backward movement against skull or rotating across ridges inside skull can cause bruising or tearing of blood vessels.  Nerve fibers are often  stretched or severed, resulting in inefficient and slowed functioning that presents as temporary or permanent physical, cognitive and behavioral changes .

It is most often the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain that are injured during a TBI, leading to many of the symptoms we associate with a brain injury.  For example, the frontal lobe is involved with many aspects of executive functions including planning, problem solving, judgement, mental flexibility and the ability to inhibit responses.  Similarly, the temporal lobe supports memory and learning, organizing and sequencing and understanding language.

How TBIs Hinder Healing

Traumatic Brain Injuries trigger both primary and secondary responses in the body that can impede healing.

Primary Responses:  TBIs damage blood vessels and nerve fibers and contribute to structural misalignment.

Secondary responses:  These secondary response are often where the real damage occurs.  For example, in response to injury, the inflammatory response in the brain is activated via glial cells.  There is no off switch for brain inflammation so this can contribute to systemic inflammation and damage the blood brain barrier.  With the integrity of the BBB compromised, blood-borne factors can now enter the brain triggering edema, greater inflammation and hyper-excitability.  Similarly, damage to the blood vessels in the brain activates the coagulation (blood clotting), resulting in severely decreased blood flow and impeded drainage from the brain.  This causes pressure to build and contributes to symptoms like headaches.

Structure (movements of the spine) correlates with function (coordinated by the nervous system).  When the head and neck are out of alignment, signals from the nerves can get blocked.  This is what happens with a compressed nerve.  It causes spinal cord compression, restricting the signals from brain to region of the body serviced by compressed nerve.

How Essential Oils Can Support Traumatic Brain Injuries

I immediately began using essential oils, with great success, to support my brain injury.

One of the reasons brain injuries can be so challenging to heal relates to the challenge of getting the right remedy into the right area of the brain. 

In order to access the brain, particles need to cross the blood-brain barrier, which acts like a filter restricting everything but incredibly small molecules from gaining access.  Research shows that lipid solubility seems to help facilitate passage through the blood-brain barrier, as even very small water molecules cannot make it through.

I believe this is one of the reasons that fat soluble substances like essential fatty acids and liposomal remedies, like liposomal melatonin, are more easily assimilated and effective at accessing and activating the brain.

The brain is primarily fat and fat likes fat.  This is the principal behind oil pulling. When you swish the oil around in your mouth, the fatty membranes of bacteria are drawn to the fat in the oil like a powerful magnet.

Essential oils are both fat soluble and are comprised of molecules so small that they’re known as volatile. Essential oil molecules literally circulate in the air where our noses detect them as smell.  It is through your sense of smell (part of your olfactory system) that essential oils can directly access the brain.  After all, olfactory cells are brain cells and

the olfactory membrane is the only place in the body where the brain is directly exposed to the environment.

Essential Oils carry the right remedy into the right area of the brain. 

essential oils for traumatic brian injury, brain cartoonEssential Oils for TBI

The oils I used to support my TBI include:

Frankincense™ It’s powerful brain healing abilities are often attributed to its ability to carry oxygen into the brain (remember that brain injuries damage arteries and veins, thus impeding oxygen flow?).  Several studies found that sesquiterpenes, a natural compound found Frankincense, can increase levels of oxygen in the brain by up to 28 percent.  Frankincense has a composition of 8% sesquiterpenes and 78% monoterpenes. It is the sesquiterpenes that are particularly effective in the rem

ediation of hard-to-heal brain injuries. Their capability to penetrate deeply into the brain tissues has been valued by systems of healing since ancient times.  Similarly, there is a lot of research that oxygen chambers are powerful healing tools for brain injuries.  Oxygen carrying essential oils like Frankincense help increase the oxygenation of the blood going to the brain which will in turn help with the absorption of oxygen.


Circulation™: Every injury in the body requires good circulation to enhance healing. Ideal circulation provides plenty of oxygen and nutrients to the injury site as well as removes carbon dioxide, waste products, and toxic residues. Essential oils that promote circulation, particularly in brain tissue, can greatly accelerate the healing process of injuries in the head. Apply Circulation™ generously at the base of the neck, behind the ears, and along the sides of the neck.


Nerve Repair: Comprised of healing oils with constituents that can assist in the repair of injured brain tissue, nerve repair is an ideal tool for healing TBIs.  It is especially helpful in alleviating physical discomfort in the neck of the head.  Apply Nerve Repair™ generously around the neck, shoulders and down the spine.  Can also be applied to the bottom of the feet.


Anti-Inflammatory:  can be topically applied to regions of the brain to help turn off brain inflammation so the gut and the body can communicate and heal.  This blend contains several essential oils known for their anti-inflammatory properties.  It is designed to reduce inflammation, re-balance the brain, and encourage regeneration of damaged or stressed cells and tissues that have been chronically inflamed or acutely inflamed. Apply Anti-Inflammatory at the base of the skull (very bottom of the hair line), behind ears and the back of the head.


Lymph:  The lymphatic system needs to be functioning optimally to open up drainage in the neck and brain.  If you think of the body like a hydraulics system where congested tissue downstream prevents optimal flow upstream, congested lymphatic vessels in the neck will impede drainage of toxins from the brain.  To enhance lymphatic flow and drainage, generously apply Lymph™ around the sides of the neck and the left clavicle (Thoracic Pump) to relieve congestion, improve drainage and reduce brain inflammation.


Parasympathetic™: TBIs can impede nerve signaling, including the vagus nerve which travels down both sides of the neck and triggers the parasympathetic response.  This blend is especially helpful in relieving headaches, dizziness and nausea.  Topically applying Parasympathetic™ blend on the vagal nerve behind the on the neck can help manually override any TBI damage and help reset the autonomic nervous system for optimal drainage from the brain.


Hypothalamus™: Traumatic brain injuries can injure your hypothalamus and affect the production levels of your brain hormones.  Your hypothalamus produces both excitatory hormones that stimulate brain activity, and inhibitory hormones that exhibit a more calming effect (more HERE).   These brain hormones, in collaboration with your pituitary gland (known as your “master gland”) control all hormonal messages for your endocrine, stress and digestive systems.   In essence, your hypothalamus and pituitary tell your other endocrine glands to make and release hormones that affect and protect every aspect of your health.  Damage to the hypothalamus often occurs after a TBI from swelling, hemorrhaging and structural damage to lesions of the hypothalamic-pituitary stalk.  A damaged hypothalamus can alter brain hormones that directly impact how you feel and how you function.



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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!