The key to managing your stress and your body’s response to stress is managing your heart, or more specifically, your heart rate variability.
Heart rate variability (HRV) is a measure of how quickly we recover from stress and return to the healing parasympathetic state, where the heart rate is less consistent and rapid-fire and more calm, variable and flexible. Essential oils can be a powerful tool to help improve HRV and with it, our resilience to stress and ability to regulate our emotions.
When your HRV is strong, you have the resilience to respond to and recover from physical, mental and emotional stress far more easily. Building HRV is the single best thing you can do to improve your health, your mood, your mental focus and your relationships!
How to Improve Heart Rate Variability
Your heart rate is controlled by the two branches of your autonomic nervous system. Your “fight or flight” sympathetic branch speeds up your heart rate and keeps it pumping at a consistently fast rate. This pumps more blood to your muscles in response to danger so you have the energy to either fight or flee. When the danger has passed and you are able to rest, repair and recover, your “rest and digest” parasympathetic branch slows down your heart rate, with more variability in the rhythm.
Simply put, your sympathetic branch acts as a gas pedal on your heart and the parasympathetic branch acts as the brake. That said, your parasympathetic branch acts faster than the sympathetic branch and can therefore increase and decrease your heart rate with greater precision. This is why building parasympathetic tone, by applying Parasympathetic™ over the vagus nerve, is so beneficial in improving HRV.
The delicate balance between the two branches of your nervous system is balanced by the vagus nerve, which originates in the brain and wraps around our heart and organs of digestion, serving as temperate gauge to control your relaxation response, including your heart rate. The vagus nerve acts as the “reset” button, communicating to the body and brain that the danger has passed and it is safe to return to the relaxed Parasympathetic state.
Research shows that spending more time in the parasympathetic state positively influences HRV and improves cognitive responses, emotion regulation and flexibility when responding to the various demands posed by the environment, including emotional stimuli.
This is because the parasympathetic state is the more variable state and when it comes to improving HRV, variability is the key word. While you might equate a steady heartbeat with a steady disposition, the opposite is actually true. A steady regular beat is associated with heightened stress is actually a sign of increased rigidity and inflexibility.
Significant trauma causes your heart to become more rigid, tight and inflexible as a way of coping with stress, almost the same way you might freeze in response to the threat of danger. Read More about your freeze response HERE. A more chaotic and flexible heart beat is a sign of more fluidity and dynamism. The recovery parasympathetic state allows for this increased fluidity and flexibility.
Essential Oils for Heart Rate Variability
There is a lot of research supporting the use of essential oils to improve heart rate variability. For example, just smelling essential oils can induce a parasympathetic response that helps calm the heart and improve vagal tone. Similarly, Japanese researchers correlated an improvement in heart rate variability improved with spending time in forests, noting that “the aromatic compounds emitted from trees that have a calming and healing quality.”
Further, essential oils, like Parasympathetic™ can be used to stimulate the vagus nerve and improve HRV.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation Improves HRV
Research shows that stimulating the Vagus Nerve helps to modulate HRV. The study analyzed how vagal nerve stimulation activated the parasympathetic system and improved HRV.
In fact, neurologists in the 19th century began noting that applying pressure on the carotid artery in the neck (i.e. the vagus nerve) could stop seizures.
This prompted significant research trials to manually stimulate the vagus nerve with electrical impulses sent through a device that is surgically implanted under the skin of the chest, similar to a pace maker. A wire is then threaded under the skin connecting the device to the vagus nerve. When activated, the device sends electrical signals along the vagus nerve to the brainstem, which then sends signals to certain areas in your brain.
This kind of vagus nerve stimulation has been used to treat epilepsy, depression, multiple sclerosis, migraines and Alzheimer’s disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has officially approved vagus nerve stimulation for epilepsy and depression. Read More about Vagus Nerve Stimulation HERE.
While the benefits of this surgical procedure are exciting, the potentially to stimulate the vagus nerve through the non-invasive use of our stimulatory Parasympathetic™ blend are equally compelling. To ensure optimal vagal signaling, apply the Parasympathetic™ oil on the vagus nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone). Read More about Parasympathetic for Heart Health HERE.
Other Essential Oils for Heart Health
Heart™ The heart integrates and balances the physical, emotional, and mental body, providing blood to every cell and every organ. It also serves as a complex information processing center, influencing brain function, the nervous system, hormonal system and most of the body’s major organs.
When any part of the body isn’t functioning at an optimal level, the heart has to work harder. For example, when the body is in a state of stress, it needs more oxygen which increases the heart rate. The heart is our body’s reset button, but a state of constant stress can fatigue the heart and compromise our ability to reset, leading to inflammation, infections, toxicity and heart disease. By returning the heart to balance, we support the cardiovascular and circulatory system, regenerate the structure of the heart and helping to reset the homeostatic mechanism for the entire body. Apply 2-3 drops of Heart™ over the heart (left side of chest) 2 -3 times daily.
Circulation™ Essential oils, like Cypress are known to help support the movement of fluid through your body. Circulation™ blend contains circulation supporting oils like Cypress to help support energy, brain endurance and warmth of the distal extremities, like the fingers and toes. When blood circulation to the brain becomes sluggish, it can impact your physical and mental abilities, including your ability to focus and concentrate. Poor circulation in the brain can also contribute to fatigue, vertigo, dizziness, memory loss, and frequent and unexplained headaches. Apply 1- 2 drops of Circulation™ on the sides or back of the neck, over the left clavicle, on the wrists or ankles.
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