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Season 3, Episode 18: What Causes Brain Symptoms and How To Overcome Them with Dr. Titus Chiu

By Jodi Cohen

Have you experienced a frustrating moment of “why is my brain not working”? If so, you’re not alone – as a matter of fact, it was a recurring question that functional neurologist Titus Chiu was asked when treating patients suffering from brain symptoms. By taking a deep dive into neuroscience and natural medicine, Titus was able to identify 6 regions that cause the majority of brain symptoms!

So what are they? In this episode of Essential Alchemy, Jodi sits down with Titus to discuss some of these regions – what they do, how they affect our brain and different exercises and essential oils you can use to create balance.

Tune in to learn about:

  • [02:15] – The Brainstem (stress, resilience and digestive function)
  • [13:07] – Prefrontal Cortex (patience and presence)
  • [25:07] – Limbic System (emotional regulation)
  • [35:34] – Finding balance (essential oils and movement)
  • [40:34] – Discover top brain healing secrets with Titus

About Dr. Titus Chiu

Titus Chiu, MS, DC, DACNB, is an award-winning professor, healer and functional neurologist with a deep passion for Functional Medicine, food, and the brain. He brings the best of both Eastern and Western medicine together—combining the art of traditional healing with the latest breakthroughs in brain science, nutrition, and lifestyle medicine. His mission is to show the world what is possible in the realm of healing and human potential using his heart, hands, voice, and mind.

Dr. Chiu helps patients with autoimmunity and complex neurological conditions get well and stay well by offering highly personalized wellness programs, both online and in person, at KOBA Family Wellness Center in Berkeley, California.

In addition to seeing clients, Dr. Chiu is an adjunct professor of neurology at Life Chiropractic College West and an assistant professor of neurology for the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies. In 2013, he received the Educator of the Year Award from the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation.

Which areas of your brain are out of balance? Click here to take the Brain Quiz.

If you’re enjoying the Essential Alchemy podcast, please leave Jodi a review on iTunes.


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Jodi: Hi, I am Jodi Cohen, your host, and I’m super [00:01:00] excited to share my dear friend who is a functional neurologist Titus Chiu, who’s gonna talk about how he uses oils in his practice to balance the six different areas of the brain. And he’s also offering you guys tremendous value, this free quiz so that you can figure out which of the areas in your brain might be out of balance.

And what exercises are best, most applicable to you. So welcome, 

Titus: Titus. Yes. It’s such a pleasure to be here, Jodi. So good to see you. 

Jodi: So I think we’re gonna, if you could just share first off the six different regions and what they do and then we’ll delve into kind of what might be out of balance and some of the ways you balance them.

That would be 

Titus: great. Yeah, definitely. And I really discovered this going through, working with many different patients for many years who were struggling with these brain symptoms and they had no idea why. One of the top questions I’d get from people when they’d reach out to work with me is, why is my brain not working?

[00:02:00] And so I went deep into the world of neuroscience and combining that with natural medicine, I was able to identify these top six regions of the nervous system that can. Virtually explain the majority of brain symptoms out there. So yeah, let’s get started. I have my little trusty brain over here and your delicious oils as well.

Soaking up the healing magic. Thank you. One of the first regions of the nervous system that I find. Is the root cause for many people is actually, especially in our times of stress, is this era we call the brainstem. Okay? And so let me pop that out for you guys here. And so you can see here, actually, I’ll give you a bit of a tour.

So here’s the outer covering or of your brain that we call the neocortex, which is made up the different lobes of the brain Is. It’s one of the most newest areas of our nervous system. So I’m gonna take that apart. I’m gonna open up my brain for you, [00:03:00] and then my little model here and then. So this is the outer covering of that neocortex, and when we flip it around, we can see the inside portion of the neocortex.

But what I wanna bring your attention to is this region we call the brainstem. And as Jodi, the brainstem is so very important when it comes to managing stress and activation and control of the autonomic nervous system, right? So it’s located in between this area of your brain, the neocortex, and then if you can imagine and visualize a spinal cord coming down here, that’s where you find the brainstem.

So let me pop that out for you. We’re going a little bit closer. Look. So here the brainstem, we have the top, middle, and bottom. The top part’s called the midbrain. Middle is the pons, and bottom is the medulla. And many of you watching this video, I’m sure, because of Jodi’s valiant. Effort to, you guys know a lot [00:04:00] about the bottom portion because that’s where the vagus nerve pops out, right?

And so that’s one of the main regions of the nervous system that I’ve identified to be at the root cause for many different symptoms that I think a lot of us are struggling with these days, like chronic stress, no unmanaged stress, no matter. What’s going on in our lives, or no matter what we try to do, just feels really difficult to manage.

So the brainstem is involved in stress, resilience and your ability to handle stress. But in addition to that, the brainstem by way of this vagus nerve, it also controls your digestive function. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with patients and clients. And they’ve tried the different gut healing protocols, changing their diet, taking supplements, doing all the right things, so to speak.

But they still have these digestive symptoms and I’ve identified many times for them it’s actually because of an issue with their vagus nerve and their brainstem because the brainstem controls [00:05:00] digestive function like gut motility. The release of digestive enzymes, blood circulation, so on and so forth.

In addition to that’s actually the bottom part of the brainstem. Now we’ll bring our attention to the top part here we call the midbrain or mesencephalon. This area of your nervous system deals with feelings of being alert and awake, like bringing your attention to different things. Haven’t you ever bought a new car?

It was the first time you bought that car before. And then all the, you never really paid attention to it before, but after you got that car, you’re like, oh my God, I see like these types of cars everywhere now. Yes. That’s actually, yeah, totally. That’s because of this area we call your mesencephalon.

It’s called the ascending reticular activating system that’s brought your mesencephalon, that brings your attention to different things, but part of that, when it’s. Overactive, you can end up just feeling overwhelmed by all the different senses in your environment. So that’s one of the [00:06:00] functions of the mesencephalon is to help filter a lot of senses like light and sound and visual movement.

And so when that part’s not working well, people can experience either light sensitivity or sound sensitivity. You might know some people when someone shuts the door, it’s not even that loud and they just jump five feet from their chair. 

Jodi: And a lot of kids the moms that are listening to this, the kids that like, the tag bothers them or it’s too loud.

Titus: You got it. There’s all these different filters we have within our nervous system, and the mesencephalon contains two big ones related to light and sound. In addition, the mesencephalon also plays a huge role in pain perception. There’s actually a region, the mesencephalon we call a para aqueduct gray.

Don’t worry about all the technical details, but that region releases endorphins, so this region’s not working too well. You can experience things like headaches, chronic migraine migraines, [00:07:00] even body aches. So there you have it. There’s a bunch of different functions. I can go on and on. Actually, one more I think is very common that I see in my practice is insomnia, because the top part of your.

Brainstem, the mesencephalon. It also sets your sleep wake cycle. So a lot of people, especially if they have issues with the mesencephalon that throws off their sleep, usually what they’ll, what will, they’ll have issues with the, they might have some trouble falling asleep, but it’s mainly they wake up maybe every 90 minutes or so because the mesencephalon sets that sleep wake cycle.

So if it’s overactive, it could become, it can actually wake you up in the middle of the night, usually within two to three hours of. Falling asleep. 

Jodi: Interesting. And do you wanna talk about some of the ways that you help clients balance that while we’re talking about that 

Titus: part of the brain? Yeah, absolutely.

And like I said before, you know a lot of the work that you’ve explored in research and some of the talks we’ve actually done together, [00:08:00] one of the most powerful ways of. Activating your brainstem is by way of activation of the vagus nerve. And so there’s a lot of different ways of doing that and it really depends.

The key I found in, making the impact in your health that you’re looking for is personalizing the right one for you. But I’ll share with you some of the most common ones and how you can figure out if it would be a good fit. So for me, one of the most powerful vagus nerve. Exercises I do is what I call palming.

So just by gentle massage of your eyeball. And even just taking the fleshy part of your palms and covering your eyeballs. Even just the, especially since I know you, Jodi, probably just like me, and many of us out there are find ourselves on screens a lot. Just the fact of taking that, it’s different from just closing your eyes.

So go ahead, try that. For those of you out there, if you just actually no. Just try closing your eyes first. Okay. And then you’ll [00:09:00] notice. It’s darker, but there’s still light streaming in. Now take the fleshy part of your palms and put it over your eye eyelids. You see the difference? It’s just like night and day, no pun 

Jodi: intended.

We do that in yoga practice sometimes. It’s very relaxing. 

Titus: Yeah. It’s one of my favorites. It’s actually, yeah, it’s developed by these ancient Tibetan yogis thousands of years ago. But the cool thing is, like the research I’ve done on this, it, when you put gentle pressure on your eyeballs, You activate your vagus nerve, it actually triggers a parasympathetic response.

So that’s one of my number one favorite ways, especially for people. It’s great for people who might experience light sensitivity, find themselves on screens a lot, maybe they feel brain foggy and they just don’t even know why. And it’s usually ’cause there’s tension around their eyeballs. 

Jodi: That’s a great one for kids too who are just, like all the moms listening are grandparents.

That’s a really nice way to calm your child 

Titus: down. [00:10:00] Huge. Yeah, absolutely. Especially kids who tend to feel more overwhelmed. Again, like I said if their braint STEM’s overactive, many times they’ll just feel like really sensitive and get overwhelmed easily. By different lights or sounds or movements.

And I find the palming exercise fantastic. And the funny thing, I’m so funny you mentioned that. I know we were talking earlier about we have a puppy now. Even dogs. When you do it on dogs, it’s the same reflex when you Oh, 

Jodi: that have, we have a lot of animal owners. Yeah. Would that work on cats as well?

Titus: Yeah, it’s the same neurology actually. Yeah. Cats and dogs. Yeah. Because again, gentle pressure activates this one of the cranial nerves we call cranial nerve five. Yeah. The trigeminal nerve. And that sends a signal into your brainstem. That speaks to cranial nerve 10, your vagus nerve. So by that, yeah, it’s what we call this biy synaptic pathway.

It’s, don’t worry about the technical details, but it’s a reflex. Yeah. 

Jodi: A lot [00:11:00] of my community likes. The details and obviously I do the vagus nerve stimulation. Are there any other ones that you really like, that you find people actually are able to. 

Titus: Implement. Yeah, absolutely. So another one, one of my personal favorites too is actually belly massage.

Oh. And yeah, believe it or not, found all throughout your digestive system, you don’t have too many, what we call pain fibers. So it’s. Even if you have digestive issues, many times people don’t even realize it ’cause there’s not too much pain necessarily. But what we do have are a lot of what we call stretch receptors.

And these are like motion sensors. So every time you have some movement in your gut, It actually activates your vagus nerve. So one of my favorite ways of activating a vagus nerve is a simple belly massage. And what I like to do is take the palm in my hand, my right hand typically, and just massaging my belly in this type of motion.

So from right the left? [00:12:00] Yeah, exactly. Because that’s, that more follows in suit with the natural digestive movements anyways. But yeah, just a simple belly massage could do work, could work wonders. Not only number one. To activate your vagus nerve and a calming response. But again, I find it works really well for people who do have digestive discomfort, either bloating or gas, constipation, or even diarrhea, and they can learn 

Jodi: more from your quiz.

Titus: Yes, exactly. And like I said before, Jodi, one of the most important things, ’cause a lot of people might have tried some of these things before, I’m like, oh, I tried the belly massage, or I tried, this little exercise here, the, the vagus exercise and it didn’t really do anything for me.

And the reason why it’s not because it doesn’t work, because the science shows that when you put pressure on your eyeballs, it activates the vagus nerve more. So what I found is, It might not be the right brain exercise for you. Exactly. And the key is, again, [00:13:00] figuring out which area of your nervous system needs that tender loving care, and then you give the specific exercise.

So let’s talk 

Jodi: about some of the other areas of the brain. Absolutely the brainstem. What do you wanna do 

Titus: next? Yeah. So yeah, since we started at what I call the foundation of the nervous system, which is, includes the brainstem. Yeah. Let’s go all the way now up to the top, the roof, and we talked about this earlier.

This is what we call your neocortex. It’s the outer covering of your brain and your brain. The different hemispheres is made up of four different lobes. One of the most common root causes I see is located in this area we call your frontal lobe, right? And the frontal lobe is involved with a lot of different activities, but.

What I want to bring our attention to is the front part of the frontal lobe. That’s what we call the prefrontal cortex, located right at the tip of the frontal lobe. Just to give us a bit of orientation. So if you can see here, [00:14:00] like this red line here? So if we drew a line down here and then move forwards.

This is your whole frontal lobe. Okay. And then over here. If I could actually blow it apart for you guys. If take us apart here, I’ll blow my brain up for you guys. Yeah, exactly. So this part is actually what we call the prefrontal cortex. And it’s very sensitive because literally sits right behind your forehead.

And that was one of the areas that was injured in my concussion that I experienced many years ago. But the thing is, one of the things that the prefrontal cortex does for us, it allows us to connect with our higher selves. What I mean by that, it gives us presence, it gives us patience to be able to feel, be mindful in stressful situations.

That’s when it’s working. But when it’s not, then you can experience things like impatience and irritability. You can. Experience things like feeling disorganized with your thoughts. You can have a hard time [00:15:00] controlling your emotions, and in addition to that, you can experience things like brain fog and brain fatigue.

I, I, brain fog is one thing where you feel a little bit slow with your, thoughts and your thinking. Brain fatigue’s a little bit different. That’s where when you do something that challenge your prefrontal cortex, like thinking about, planning your day or your week and you get really tired.

Reading or driving. Yeah. Reading and driving. Exactly. That can also be due to other regions of the prefrontal cortex related to eye movements, what we call the front to eye fields. Yeah. Any activity that requires. Far as eye movements can also trigger brain fatigue, believe it or not. And that’s interesting you brought that up, Jodi, because I find a lot of times my patients, they think it’s their brain that’s not working when they feel tired when reading or driving.

But sometimes when I do an examination, I find out it’s their eye movements. Their eye movements are incoordinated. Like the people 

Jodi: that tell me I read to fall asleep because reading. 

Titus: Yeah, because yeah, exactly. [00:16:00] Maybe it’s the material’s boring, but many times it’s because, yeah. You know their eyes, the region of their nervous system, right?

That controls their eye movements, that’s a little bit tired. So then when they try to engage and focus specifically their eyes, they get really tired ’cause their brain burns up all their glucose. And again, yeah, a lot of times it’s not even a cognitive challenge they have or a mental issue. It’s actually purely physical.

And by doing simple eye exercises, you can start strengthening the endurance there. And yeah, a lot of times I have patients who after doing these specific eye movement exercises, they’re able to read longer and they’re able to dry without feeling tired or triggered or flared up, which is pretty cool.

What about 

Jodi: like memory issues or like word recall and things like that? Is that prefrontal 

Titus: cortex as well? Yeah, memory. And the interesting thing about memory is there’s all different types of memory and the reason why it’s important to get really clear on the different [00:17:00] types is because those are clues as to which area of your brain needs that T L C.

Right? So as an example, when we talk about memory, there’s a form of memory we call working memory. Yeah. And yes, that is absolutely a part of your prefrontal cortex. Working 

Jodi: phone numbers and account numbers. 

Titus: Yeah. Working memory is more, it’s almost like you’re taking an idea. You’re holding it in your head while you go work on something else, and then you come back and you’re like, oh yeah, I was working on that.

So a lot of people who have good multitasking abilities, they’re able to, they have pretty good working memory. Another good example is, yeah, if someone tells you like a phone number and you’re like trying to remember the phone number, You see a phone number on the screen and you go to type it in your phone, that’s working memory.

’cause you have to remember the phone number while you go to put it in your phone. That’s an example. Another great example is actually chess. Playing chess. It’s like you have all these moves [00:18:00] you can do and if you make one move, your opponent could do another move, and then that opens up a whole nother world of possibilities that you all have to hold in here, right?

So that, and yes, you’re absolutely correct. Word finding many times could be due to an issue like, trouble remembering a word. It’s like on the tip of your tongue. Many times it could be due to the prefrontal cortex as well. 

Jodi: Awesome. So tell me what strategies you use to engage and strengthen the prefrontal cortex.

Titus: That’s the great thing about it. Due to the miracle of neuroplasticity, your brain’s ability to change its shape, structure and function through your experiences, you can do simple exercise to train your prefrontal cortex. And I actually alluded to one of them already. Chest is actually a fantastic way of training your prefrontal cortex.

But for those of you who have never played chess, and you’re just daunted by the idea of taking it up, Something as simple as like a memory card game where you take you guys probably have played them, [00:19:00] growing up and did you ever play them? Jodi. Oh 

Jodi: my god. All the time. And with my kids.

Titus: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And so you can take these different cards that have there’s two cards that are matching as an example, like cherries or something. Yeah. And you have a whole bunch of the cards face down and you flip ’em over and you’re like, oh, this card here. A lot of that is working memory.

’cause it has to do with that short-term memory that’s okay, I saw the card over here, now I have to remember it. Yeah. When I go to flip these over. That’s also a great way of exercising your prefrontal cortex. But in addition to that, anything you do that’s related to fine motor control, like using chopsticks or origami or some people enjoy knitting.

Anything like that. Even typing on a keyboard, learning how to type and memorizing the letters. Anything related to fine movement activates your prefrontal cortex and your frontal lobe. So there’s a bunch of different physical exercises you could do in addition to more mental brain training, right?[00:20:00] 

There’s physical brain training exercise you can do to activate all of these regions, including the prefrontal 

Jodi: cortex. What about oils? Are there any ways you can use oils? Oh 

Titus: yeah, absolutely. And this is one of my favorites. And I had shared this one with you before, just there’s an area of your prefrontal cortex.

That we call the orbital frontal lobe. So the prefrontal cortex is one section of your frontal lobe. It’s just one area. But the prefrontal cortex itself has different regions, and one of them is called your orbital frontal cortex. So if you’re looking at my prefrontal lobe cortex right here, yeah.

So I turn my head up. Under the underbelly of it, we find your orbital frontal cortex. And that region is very much related to the sense of smell, but specifically it helps you differentiate different types of smells. So one fantastic way of training a prefrontal cortex with the use of your oils as an example, right?

So for example, right [00:21:00] here, I have the adrenal blend, which is great for times of stress, as yes. And then we also have the parasympathetic blend. Fantastic for, calming your vagus nerve and your nervous system. So one way of training your prefrontal cortex specifically, and that’s why I absolutely love essential oils, because not only does it have these neurochemical impacts on your brain, depending on the ingredients, when you use it as a sensory-based exercise.

As I’ll show you in a second, you actually train the areas of your nervous system, in this case, your prefrontal cortex. So the exercise is simple. So for example, you take one aroma, say for example, the adrenals and okay, I can smell that and I get the qualities of it, and then I take this other one, the parasympathetic, all right.

Wow, I love that one. That one’s really working for me today. Yeah, that’s interesting. 

Jodi: So you alternate 

Titus: different oils. Yeah. First, that’s step one, right? You just smell them [00:22:00] and then you do a blind smell test, like blind taste test. You do a blind smell test. Yeah. So then you close your eyes.

You put them randomly in front of you. Yeah. And then you have to figure out which one is which. Oh, interesting. Makes sense. Yeah. So then, obviously know that one is the Paris it’s like finding 

Jodi: the cards. It forces you to connect dots in your brain and outreach. 

Titus: Yeah, exactly.

The best analogy is I like to use is like sommeliers, like those professionals who learn all about wines or you have these professional foodies. They could tell you down to the ingredients and like sometimes with the, the somalias, they tell you like the vintage and what year and what vineyard, right?

Yeah. Because they’ve trained their orbital funnel cortex so powerfully over the years. So again, for some of you out there listening to this, if you feel daunted by becoming a sommelier, you can start with. For example, Jodi is essential oil blend, right? [00:23:00] Get a sense of what one of them smells like. Capture that in your mind.

Take another one, and then close your eyes. Maybe even have a friend be like, okay, which one is this? When you’re able to start differentiating between different smells, right? Bam, powerful way of training your prefrontal cortex. I love 

Jodi: that. I have friends that can, we can go to a restaurant and they’ll be able to say, I think there, there’s little coriander in here.

And I’m like, yeah, 

Titus: exactly. It’s because they’ve trained, believe it or not, the orbital frontal cortex to be able to differentiate. Another great way of doing this is just taking like a, for those of you who have real hard time kind of differentiating flavors and smells, start with something like lemon.

Coffee. Yeah. Because I would imagine the majority out there, unless you can’t smell things, you can tell the difference between lemon and coffee. But guess what? It’s just if you’re not very good at it, it is because this area of your brain is a little flabby. Yeah. Just like when you go to the gym, you’re not gonna, if you’re flabby, you [00:24:00] haven’t worked out in a while, you won’t want to go right to the 150 pound weights.


Jodi: Or varies from the 10 pound weights if it’s been 

Titus: a while. Yeah, exactly. And then once you get better, it’s oh yeah, that’s easy. Lemon and coffee, then you could do like lemon and grapefruit. It’s different, but it’s more peppermint 

Jodi: is really powerful. 

Titus: Yeah. Trying to do like spearmint versus peppermint versus mint.

You, it’s the harder, the closer the smells are, it’s heavier lifting for your prefrontal cortex. I love that. I 

Jodi: love that. 

Titus: Yeah, like I said, there’s a lot of different ways of training. That’s the beautiful thing. A lot of times people think, brain training is oh, I get to do crossword puzzles, or I gotta do learn pseudo KU or another language, or learn how to play chess.

No, I’ve actually found what’s a more powerful and effective and faster way of training. Your brain is doing things using your senses and special movements, and that’s why, again, I love. Essential oils, not only for the [00:25:00] neurophysiological neurochemical impacts, but also when you know how to use ’em properly.

You can start training specific regions of your brain. 

Jodi: Can we talk a little bit about the limbic system? 

Titus: Absolutely. Yeah. So then I’m taking you guys on a VIP tour of your brain. So the limbic systems actually composed of a lot of different structures, and one of the main functions of the limbic system is for emotional coloring and emotional regulation.

How have you out, out there, have had an experience maybe with a friend or a family member and you. Both had the exact same experience. You did the same exact thing, but your friend or partner was just like, that was the worst thing ever. I never wanted to do that again. And you’re like, really? That was the best thing ever.

So a lot of what colors our emotions and our feelings we have with experiences is the limbic system. And the limbic system, like I said, it’s composed of a lot of different. Types of nuclei or regions of brain [00:26:00] cells, and some of them, and many of them are buried very deep within your nervous system.

So again, to give you guys orientation, this is the outer covering your neocortex, one of the newest areas. This is what we call the dolphin brain. And then when we flip that around, we see the brainstem. This is what we call the reptilian brain. Okay? That’s because even lizards, right? Ha. And reptiles have a brainstem.

But then when we look at the limbic system, that’s actually part of what we call the mammalian brain, right? And so the mammalian brain, Refers a lot of it’s related to emotional coloring and bonding, right? All the things that of fe, all the feelings that we experience and there’s a lot of structures and buried very deep within the nervous system.

One of them that’s super deep is what we call the amygdala. And the amygdala. It’s, it actually means almond because it’s this tiny almond shaped structure. Bare deep [00:27:00] within your nervous system and its main job is to. Help your brain perceive threats and dangers within your environment to help to protect you.

And so it’s obviously we do need to have some level of discernment in our life, right? And so when the amygdala’s working well, and especially when it’s working in conjunction with your prefrontal cortex, if there are certain things that might be dangerous or potentially dangerous, you’ll know what to do about it.

You’ll be able to have. Great discernment. Again, discernment’s a big part of the prefrontal cortex, right? But when your limbic system and your amygdala is overactive, then you can experience states of chronic stress and fear and worry and anxiety regardless of whatever’s happening in your external world.

I see that a lot with people who experience trauma, rather physical trauma like I did after my concussion, or even mental emotional trauma, right? Because. Your brain [00:28:00] perceives the stress. Your neocortex then creates meaning out of it, and then it goes to your amygdala. But really, when you first perceive it, there’s this direct connection to the amygdala.

So that’s a much faster reflex than our ability to have, discernment and create meaning. Yeah, exactly. So that therein lies the trap. So it’s, unless you have a very strong. Prefrontal cortex, your amygdalas, it’s constantly scanning your environment for danger. But again, the great news is even if it is overactive due to trauma, or maybe because you have a bit of flabby prefrontal cortex from chronic stress or inflammation, There’s things you can do, right?

Simple things you can do to activate and calm your limbic system. And again, one of my favorites is the use of essential oils and yeah, the parasympathetic blend I found for me it’s [00:29:00] like such a magic just to help shift my nervous system. 


Jodi: you talk about I say it all the time, but I’d love your take on why smell is so calming to the limbic 

Titus: system.

Yeah, absolutely. So remember how I said when you’re, you perceive things in your environment, right? Like it’ll go through your prefrontal cortex, but guess what? That signal goes straight to your limbic system first, right? Okay. Because that’s how we’re built. We’re all built with what we call negativity bias, right?

So if something’s rustling in the bushes, we’re not gonna. Philosophy on the nature of sound and then, and be like I wonder who’s waiting for me in the bush. We gonna be like, You’re gonna trigger, fight or flight response, and you’re going to get ready to either fight, run away, or sometimes freeze, right?

So one of the reasons why essential oils is so powerful because just like dangers get sent directly to our amygdala and limbic system. For [00:30:00] processing. So do smells, right? Of all the senses that we have, sights, sounds, smell, taste, touch. And in addition to this other se sense we call proprioception or body awareness of all the senses out there, smell is the number one sense because it’s the oldest sense and it bypasses all the senses.

Remember how I talked to earlier, Jodi, like these filters we have. We have a filter in our nervous system called the thalamus, and the thalamus is like the gatekeeper for all our senses. So as an example right now is you’re sitting there. For those of you out there, you probably didn’t realize the sensation of your butt on your chair until now.

All of a sudden when I brought your awareness to like your thighs or your feet on the floor, you probably wouldn’t even think about it ’cause you were hopefully engaged in this conversation. That’s because the thalamus was blocking those [00:31:00] sensations coming in. Oh, that’s one of the, remember how I talked about earlier, the filter in your midbrain for sight and sound?

What you were talking about earlier, a lot of children who feel really sensitive to touch and like tags. One of the main reasons for that I found is because that gatekeeper, the thalamus is no longer working very well. It’s not stopping the sensations and boom, sensory overwhelm.

There’s a lot of different reasons. There’s several filters, but that’s a very common, my point is though, right? Yeah. The thalamus is working well. When that gatekeeper is working well, we’re able to block our senses because it all our senses actually have to stop in the thalamus. Yes. Before they get to our brain for us to become aware of.

That makes sense. Yes. So exa for an example in that situation, if, for those of you who all of a sudden when I said, Hey, Bring attention to the sensation of your feet on the ground. Now you feel your feet on the ground. I just did that for [00:32:00] myself and now my, I feel my feet on the ground. It’s because by way of bringing awareness through your frontal lobe, you can actually then disengage your thalamus. You open that gateway for the sensation of touch. Yes. Body winners on your feet. Make sense? Completely. The reason why that happens is because, The sensations that allow for the feeling of touch or body awareness have to stop in the thalamus before it gets to the brain, and then we become aware.

Guess which sense? Doesn’t have to stop in the thalamus. Smell. Smell. Exactly. That’s why it’s like no matter what you’re doing if we’re in the conversation, all of a sudden some smell wafts in the room, either like a delicious smell of food cooking or maybe a rotten smell of, garbage.

We don’t have to bring our, yeah, I don’t have to be like, Hey, Jodi, you smell that and I’ll be like, you already sensed that, right? Yeah. So it’s because that sense of [00:33:00] smell bypasses that gatekeeper, we call the thalamus, but that’s why it’s so powerful, right? That’s why it’s it is, not only, again, for the neurochemical reasons, like increasing brain circulation, shifting, activating the vagus nerve and so on and so forth.

And yeah, the different types of essential oils out there have some of them have like GABAergic activities, meaning they mimic the neurotransmitter GABA for calming. Yeah. That’s why Lavender oil is so powerful in the sense that it actually mimics gaba. But not only for neurochemical benefits, do do essential oils rock?

Yeah. But also, like I was saying, for the sensory benefits. And to be honest, Jodi, that’s the number one missing piece I’ve seen when it comes to health and especially brain health is the sensory component. ’cause a lot of people, and I would imagine a lot of people on this, they do things to [00:34:00] take care of their health in terms of eating a healthy, clean diet.

Maybe they even take supplements and exercise. Maybe they do things like cognitively like meditation. But one of the biggest missing ingredients I’ve seen my clients make when it comes to their brain health is, Brain training using the senses. But again, I know your audience is probably different ’cause they probably use essential oils and that does have the physiochemical impacts, but it also activates specific regions of the brain when you know how to use it.

Properly do. But they’ll be 

Jodi: thrilled about what you have to offer because they are always looking. It’s like the yoga practitioners, we’re always looking to make it better. To hold it longer. Go deeper. 

Titus: Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, so that’s the reason. Going back to your original question, why essential oils are so powerful, they bypass the gatekeeper.

They go straight inside, right? Your limbic system and they can help the amygdala. But the flip side’s true, right? If you smell the wrong thing, like you [00:35:00] smell like even, a lot of people are more sensitive about their pro and again, talking about. Our dog. He’s very sensitive to like pheromones and stress hormones.

He could smell that stuff in his 

Jodi: right. If we smell fire, if we smell predator odor. Yeah. All of those things do Oh, exactly. Yeah. Encourage a danger response to keep us alive and so 

Titus: that’s why, yeah. The essential oils when used properly, just like how you’ve taught your, and trained your community, it’s such a powerful way of bringing balance to that really important system of the limbic brain.

Jodi: What oils do you like in your practice and do you find are the most helpful for clients to calm the limbic system and the amygdala? 

Titus: Oh man. Yeah, these two right here, like the adrenals I find for really good for people just overall stress, right? Yeah. But then in terms of, I. I would have to say, I see a lot of different patients and clients for over 15 years, but like one of the top patterns I’ve seen is the stress response, right?

[00:36:00] That what we talked about earlier with the brainstem being stuck in that fight or flight. I find that this parasympathetic, oh my goodness, I love this one. Like I personally like this one. This is one of my favorites. But in addition to that I find the immune one, especially these days is really helpful.

Yeah. Because I know there’s a lot of immune challenges out there. But always, and depending on the different seasons, I find it’s really helpful. In addition to that, I’ve actually found some like standard essential oils, like I alluded to earlier, just like a lemon flavor or a grapefruit, like brighter ones are really good for activating.

Yeah. The left hemisphere of the brain and the left hemisphere of the brain deals more with positive emotions. It’s related to what we call approach behaviors For. When our, the left hemisphere of our brain becomes activated, we wanna approach people, we wanna engage with people. Whereas I find with if you want to balance more the right side of your brain, [00:37:00] I.

I find like more muscular smells, like frankincense or merr, spike nar, those types of like funkier smells. They help to activate the right hemisphere of the brain. And the right hemisphere of the brain is more dealing with what we call avoidant behaviors, where you actually wanna then go inward, which is not a bad thing.

Many times we do need to go inward. 

Jodi: So the left is the extrovert side of the brain. The right is the introvert side. Exactly. Are good for left extroversion. And frankincense and mer and more resins are good for 

Titus: Right, introvert. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. For example, if, I’m not sure if you, for those of you watching, are either extrovert or introverted, but it’s all about being able to have options and freedom in your life, right?

Yes. So if you’re more introverted, but you need to go to party and you wanna engage. Yes. Feel is worn out. You can choose the brighter smells that will get you through that. Whereas maybe you tend to be more extroverted and you do need to calm down a bit so you can focus on your healthier [00:38:00] healing.

Go inward. Yeah. Or, yeah. The funkier smells tend to work really well for that. What were 


Jodi: ones you at? Frankincense mer, er. 

Titus: Yeah. Like the ones that have a deeper Herbaceous. Earthy. So Frankincense. Earthy. Exactly. Vever frankincense Mer. And it’s pretty cool. I dabbled with a little essential oil.

Like I took this workshop once and Right. As there’s, it’s all about having the different tones. Yeah. It’s pretty cool because a lot of the ones that I spoke about, like frankincense, ver, those are like a lot of the base tones usually, right? Yeah. The ones that are the grounding and that’s really good for the right hemisphere of the brain.

Yeah. Whereas the brighter ones, like I said, like orange grapefruits, one of my favorites. That’s like the higher tones. I find that the left hemisphere tends to be activated by those. Wasn’t that wild, Jodi. When you understand the neurology behind it, you can use all these different tools that we’ve already been using [00:39:00] for years, right?

Like things like playing board games or using essential oils or even special movements that you can do like balance. We didn’t talk about it yet, but balance and things like yoga practices, Tai Chi. Do very well triggering neuroplasticity and strengthening this area we call your cerebellum, which is related to core stability.

But your cerebellum’s also related to feeling very grounded in this earth and I found actually a lot of patients I work with tend to, I. Usually have some type of autoimmunity and a very common one I see is thyroid autoimmune. Yeah. But there’s this triad between the auto, the immune system creating antibodies against the thyroid as well as the digestive system like gluten and like celiac, but also, Cerebellum and so I’ve worked with a lot of clients who’ve had like thyroid issues, or Hashimoto’s or even autoimmune in addition to all the typical symptoms, maybe cold hands and [00:40:00] feet, maybe feeling tired or sometimes anxious and vacillating between the two.

Many times I find they have issues with balance and coordination as well. And part of the healing in those specific situations, we definitely need to do things to train the cerebellum. And that’s a cool thing, right? So things like yoga, tai chi, balance exercises. You can do those things that you might already been doing, but be more intentional with it, knowing that when you do, you’re actually strengthening your cerebellum.

Jodi: I love this. I love everything you’ve shared. Can you share how people can find out more about what you have to offer and learn how to go deeper in sensory stimuli for the brain and oils. How do people work with you and get in touch with 

Titus: you? Absolutely. So after, I, I do work with clients one-on-one, but my schedule is pretty booked out.

And what I’ve found the challenge is there’s only one of me for, some people say fortunately enough, so actually what I’ve done, [00:41:00] I’ve. Put together all of the top brain healing secrets that I, some of which I shared with you in terms of using the senses to train your brain. And I put it all together in one complete program called Brain Train.

But the key is like, when it comes to using these things properly, right? For those of you the tips I gave you guys today, you might try them and you might be like, oh my goodness, that’s been a game changer for me. And some of you out there might be like, you know what? I tried that and didn’t really do much at all.

Or maybe you’ve tried them in the past and they’re not working. But like I said before, the number one reason why I see that is because you probably haven’t found the right one for you and your brain, right? And so in that course, in my five week course Brain Train, I. I actually walk you through the top six regions of the nervous system, some of which we talked today about Jodi, right?

But I walk you guys through the six regions of the nervous system, the prefrontal cortex, the limbic, the brainstem, [00:42:00] the cerebellum. We also go into this air we call the inner ear vestibular system, very much related to balance as well as anxiety, believe it or not. And also finally, this region we call the temporal lobe.

So I walk you through, So you can identify which areas of your nervous system needs that tender loving care. And then I actually show you how to match the perfect exercise for you and your brain, but to get started. As for as a token of my gratitude and our gratitude, me and Jodi’s gratitude for you guys watching this masterclass, I wanna offer you guys.

Access to the quizzes. So we actually have a quiz that I’ve designed, and when you take that quiz, you’re gonna uncover the top region of your nervous system that needs that tender loving care help people clarify. Then from there, yeah, we’ll actually send you a customized brain training exercise based on the results of your quiz.

So the way you can access that free quiz, you go to, Yeah, [00:43:00] exactly. We have the link below. You could click on that link or you could go to brain quiz. 

Jodi: Yes. Yay. Thank you so much for, this was brilliant. So interesting. Thank you for your time. This was amazing. 

Titus: Absolutely. Thanks so much for inviting me, Jodi.

It’s always a pleasure chatting with you and thanks for everyone for watching the Masterclass. Bye for now. Bye 

Jodi: for now.


About The Author

Jodi Cohen

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.