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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 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.

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

Jodi:  If you could just share the six different regions and what they do, and then we’ll delve into what might be out of balance and some of the ways you balance them.

Titus: I really discovered this 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? 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. I have my little trusty brain over here and your delicious oils as well. Soaking up the healing magic

One of the first regions of the nervous system that I find is the root cause for many people, especially in our times of stress, is this area we call the brainstem. Let me pop that out for you guys here. I’ll give you a bit of a tour. So here’s the outer covering 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, in my little model here. 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. The brainstem is very important when it comes to managing stress and activation and control of the autonomic nervous system. 

It’s located between this area of your brain, the neocortex, and then if you can imagine a spinal cord coming down here, that’s where you find the brainstem. So let me pop that out for you. 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 you guys know a lot about the bottom portion because that’s where the vagus nerve pops out. 

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, 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. 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 digestive function like gut motility

The release of digestive enzymes, blood circulation, so on. 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

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. That’s because of this area we call your mesencephalon. It’s called the ascending reticular activating system 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 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. 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 in the mesencephalon, we call a periaqueductal gray. 

Don’t worry about all the technical details, but that region releases endorphins, so if this region’s not working too well, you can experience things like headaches, chronic migraine migraines, even body aches. So there you have it.

There’s a bunch of different functions. 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 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 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 part of the brain?

Titus: A lot of the work that you’ve explored in research and some of the talks we’ve actually done together, 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. I know you, Jodi, probably just like me, and many of us out there find ourselves on screens a lot. Just the fact of taking that, it’s different from just closing your eyes. Just try closing your eyes first. And then you’ll notice it’s darker, but there’s still light streaming in. Now take the fleshy part of your palms and put it over your eyelids. You see the difference? It’s just like night and day, no pun intended.

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, when you put gentle pressure on your eyeballs, You activate your vagus nerve, it actually triggers a parasympathetic response. 

That’s one of my number one favorite ways. 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 know why. And it’s usually ’cause there’s tension around their eyeballs.

Jodi: That’s a really nice way to calm your child down.

Titus: Especially kids who tend to feel more overwhelmed. If their brainstem’s overactive, many times they’ll just feel really sensitive and get overwhelmed easily by different lights or sounds or movements. And I find the palming exercise fantastic. And the funny thing, it’s so funny you mentioned that. We were talking earlier about we have a puppy now. Even dogs. When you do it on dogs, it’s the same reflex.

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

Titus: Yeah, it’s the same neurology actually. Gentle pressure activates this one of the cranial nerves we call cranial nerve 5. The trigeminal nerve. And that sends a signal into your brainstem that speaks to cranial nerve 10, your vagus nerve.

Jodi:  I do the vagus nerve stimulation. Are there others people are able to do?

Titus: Another one of my personal favorites is belly massage. Believe it or not, found all throughout your digestive system, you don’t have too many, what we call pain fibers. Even if you have digestive issues, many times people don’t realize it ’cause there’s not too much pain. 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 activates your vagus nerve. 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 massage my belly in this type of motion. From right the left. 

Because that follows in suit with the natural digestive movements. Just a simple belly massage 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.

Jodi:  And they can learn more from your quiz.

Titus:  One of the most important things, ’cause a lot of people might have tried some of these things before are like, I tried the belly massage, or I tried this little exercise here, the vagus exercise, and it didn’t really do anything for me. And the reason why it’s not isn’t 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 figuring out which area of your nervous system needs that tender loving care, and then you give the specific exercise.

Jodi: Let’s talk about some of the other areas of the brain.

Titus: Since we started at what I call the foundation of the nervous system, which includes the brainstem. 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 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 and it 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. If you can see this red line here? So if we drew a line down here and then move forwards, this is your whole frontal lobe. And then over here. If I could actually blow it apart for you guys. 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 controlling your emotions, and in addition to that, you can experience things like brain fog and brain fatigue. 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 when you do something that challenges your prefrontal cortex, like thinking about planning your day or your week and you get really tired reading or driving. That can also be due to other regions of the prefrontal cortex related to eye movements, what we call the front to eye fields. Any activity that requires far 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 uncoordinated.

Jodi: Like the people that tell me I read to fall asleep.

Titus: Maybe it’s the material’s boring, but many times it’s because of their eyes, the region of their nervous system 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, 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 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 drive without feeling tired or triggered or flared up, which is pretty cool.

Jodi:  What about memory issues or word recall? Is that prefrontal cortex, too?

Titus: 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 types is because those are clues as to which area of your brain needs that TLC. As an example, when we talk about memory, there’s a form of memory we call working memory. That is absolutely a part of your prefrontal cortex.

Jodi:  Working, phone numbers, and account numbers. Cortex as well?

Titus:  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 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.  

Jodi: Yeah. And yes, that is absolutely a part of your prefrontal cortex. Working phone numbers and account numbers. 

Titus: Working memory is 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. A lot of people who have good multitasking abilities, they have pretty good working memory. Another good example is if someone tells you a phone number and you’re 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. Another great example is actually playing chess. You have all these moves you can do and if you make one move, your opponent could do another move, and then that opens up a whole other world of possibilities that you all have to hold in here. 

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: Tell me what strategies you use to 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. Chess 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. You guys probably have played them growing up and did you ever play them?

Jodi:  All the time. And with my kids.

Titus: And so you can take these different cards that have two cards that are matching as an example, like cherries or something. 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. I saw the card over here, now I have to remember it. 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. There’s physical brain training exercise you can do to activate all of these regions, including the prefrontal cortex.

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

Titus: 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, 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. I have the adrenal blend, which is great for times of stress. And 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 for example, you take one aroma, for example, the adrenals. I can smell that and I get the qualities of it, and then I take this other one, the parasympathetic, that one’s really working for me today.

Jodi: So you alternate different oils.

Titus:  That’s step one. You just smell them and then you do a blind smell test, like blind taste test. You do a blind smell test. So close your eyes, you put them randomly in front of you. And then you have to figure out which one is which.

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 sometimes with the sommeliers, they tell you like the vintage and what year and what vineyard. Because they’ve trained their orbital frontal cortex so powerfully over the years. 

For some of you out there listening to this, if you feel daunted by becoming a sommelier, you can start with, for example, Jodi’s essential oil blend. 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, bam, powerful way of training your prefrontal cortex.

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

Titus: It’s because they’ve trained, believe it or not, the orbital frontal cortex to differentiate. Another great way of doing this is just, for those of you who have real hard time kind of differentiating flavors and smells, start with something like lemon and coffee. 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? If you’re not very good at it, it is because this area of your brain is a little flabby. Just like when you go to the gym, if you’re flabby, you haven’t worked out in a while, you won’t want to go right to the 150 pound weights

And then once you get better, it’s oh yeah, that’s easy. Lemon and coffee, then you could do like lemon and grapefruit.

Jodi:  Peppermint is really powerful.

Titus: Trying to do spearmint versus peppermint versus mint. It’s the harder the closer the smells are, it’s heavier lifting for your prefrontal cortex. 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 learn another language, or learn how to play chess. 

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 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: I’m taking you on a VIP tour of your brain. The limbic system is 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. Have you had an experience maybe with a friend or a family member and you both had the exact same experience, but your friend or partner was like, that was the worst thing ever? And you’re like, really? That was the best thing ever. 

A lot of what colors our emotions and our feelings we have with experiences is the limbic system. And the limbic system is composed of a lot of different types of nuclei or regions of brain cells, and many of them are buried very deep within your nervous system.

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. That’s because lizards and reptiles have a brainstem. But when we look at the limbic system, that’s actually part of what we call the mammalian brain. And so the mammalian brain is related to emotional coloring and bonding. 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 actually means almond because it’s this tiny almond-shaped structure deep 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 obviously we do need to have some level of discernment in our life. 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. 

Discernment’s a big part of the prefrontal cortex. 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 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. That therein lies the trap. Unless you have a very strong prefrontal cortex, your amygdala is 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. And again, one of my favorites is the use of essential oils and the parasympathetic blend I found for me it’s like magic just to help shift my nervous system.

Jodi:  I’d love your take on why smell is so calming to the limbic system.

Titus:  Remember how I said when you perceive things in your environment, it’ll go through your prefrontal cortex? That signal goes straight to your limbic system first, because that’s how we’re built. We’re all built with what we call negativity bias. If something’s rustling in the bushes, we’re not gonna philosophy on the nature of sound and be like, I wonder who’s waiting for me in the bush? 

You’re gonna trigger fight or flight response, and you’re going to get ready to either fight, run away, or sometimes freeze. One of the reasons why essential oils are so powerful is because, just like dangers get sent directly to our amygdala and limbic system for processing, so do smells. Of all the senses that we have, sights, sounds, smell, taste, touch, and in addition to this other 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.

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, 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 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 sensations coming in. 

Remember how I talked about earlier, the filter in your midbrain for sight and sound? A lot of children who feel really sensitive to touch and 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 one. My point is the thalamus is working well. 

When that gatekeeper is working well, we’re able to block our senses because all our senses actually have to stop in the thalamus before they get to our brain for us to become aware of that makes sense. For example in that situation, for those of you who all of a sudden when I said, bring attention to the sensation of your feet on the ground. Now you feel your feet on the ground. I just did that for myself and now 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. Make sense? 

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. That’s why 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, I don’t have to be like, hey, Jodi, you smell that? So it’s because that sense of smell bypasses that gatekeeper, we call the thalamus, but that’s why it’s so powerful, right? That’s why it is not only for the neurochemical reasons, like increasing brain circulation, shifting, activating the vagus nerve and so on and so forth. 

The different types of essential oils out there have some of them have like GABAergic activities, meaning they mimic the neurotransmitter GABA for calming. That’s why lavender oil is so powerful in the sense that it actually mimics GABA. But not only for neurochemical benefits do essential oils rock, but also 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 do things to take care of their health in terms of eating a healthy, clean diet. Maybe they even take supplements and exercise. Maybe they do things 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 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.

Jodi:  But they’ll be 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:  Going back to your original question, why essential oils are so powerful, they bypass the gatekeeper. They go straight inside your limbic system and they can help the amygdala. But the flip side’s true if you smell the wrong thing. Our dog, he’s very sensitive to like pheromones and stress hormones. He could smell that stuff.

Jodi: If we smell fire, if we smell predator odor. All of those things encourage a danger response to keep us alive.

Titus: The essential oils when used properly, just like how you’ve taught 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. The adrenals I find really good for overall stress. 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. What we talked about earlier with the brainstem being stuck in that fight or flight, I find that this parasympathetic, I love this one. 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. 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 standard essential oils, like lemon or grapefruit, brighter ones are really good for activating 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. When the left hemisphere of our brain becomes activated, we wanna approach people, we wanna engage with people. Whereas I find if you want to balance more the right side of your brain, more muscular smells, like frankincense or myrhh, spikenard, 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.

Jodi:  So the left is the extrovert side of the brain. The right is the introvert side.

Titus: Right, exactly. I’m not sure if those of you watching are either extrovert or introverted, but it’s all about being able to have options and freedom in your life. So if you’re more introverted, but you need to go to a party and you wanna engage, 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 healing. The funkier smells tend to work really well for that. 

I dabbled with a little essential oil. I took this workshop once and it’s all about having the different tones. It’s pretty cool because a lot of the ones that I spoke about, like frankincense, myrhh, those are a lot of the base tones usually. The ones that are the grounding and that’s really good for the right hemisphere of the brain.

Whereas the brighter ones like orange or grapefruit, that’s 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 for years. 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 a lot of patients I work with tend to usually have some type of autoimmunity and a very common one I see is thyroid autoimmune. But there’s this triad between the autoimmune system creating antibodies against the thyroid as well as the digestive system like gluten and celiac, but also Cerebellum. And so I’ve worked with a lot of clients who’ve had thyroid issues, or Hashimoto’s or even autoimmune in addition to all the typical symptoms, maybe cold hands and 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, 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 you?

Titus: 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, so actually what I’ve done is I’ve put together all of the top brain healing secrets that 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 when it comes to using these things properly. 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. 

And so in that course, in my five week course Brain Train, I actually walk you through the top six regions of the nervous system, some of which we talked today about. But I walk you guys through the six regions of the nervous system, the prefrontal cortex, the limbic, the brainstem, 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. 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 a token of 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. Then from there 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, we have the link below. You could click on that link or you could go to brainsave.com/vibrantquiz.

Jodi:  Thank you so much, 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.

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.