presentsThe Evolving Self
When growth is the only option...

The Evolving Self is an e-newsletter that reflects the belief that growth is a choice that can bring an ever deepening and expanding awareness of who we are and what we are here for. The reader can expect affirmations, quotes, book reviews, insightful commentary and tips that support the growth of the individual.

Affirmation: I release the past and embrace safety in the present moment.

Quote:  “Some of the experiences endured by human beings on this earth are virtually unbelievable.”   -Aphrodite Matsakis

Newsletter archives:

November 2016 - What is Dysfunctional?/Re-Parenting

October 2016 - The Need/Obligate System

Septemer 2016 - Flower Power





Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

I was sitting with a Veteran in my office where I have a diffuser blowing essential oils. He asked me to tell him what the diffuser was, so I launched into my explanation of aromatherapy and essential oils. I was talking about the power of the olfactory sense and the fact that it affects the limbic system and he said, “Smell backs,” which he explained is basically a flashback that is triggered by a scent.

As an Army Veteran with multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Veteran described some of the scents that take him back to places he really doesn’t want to remember; simply walking through the grocery store and smelling normal, everyday items can bring back the anxiety, pain and trauma of having served in a war zone. Flashbacks are, of course a symptom of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.)

The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as “…a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it."  The following is a list of common symptoms of PTSD:

  • Feeling upset by things that remind you of what happened
  • Having nightmares, vivid memories, or flashbacks of the event that make you feel like it’s happening all over again
  • Feeling emotionally cut off from others
  • Feeling numb or losing interest in things you used to care about
  • Feeling constantly on guard
  • Feeling irritated or having angry outbursts 
  • Having difficulty sleeping
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Being jumpy or easily startled

Understandably, there is a high percentage of Veterans who have PTSD. While the degree to which many Veterans experience PTSD is more intense, there is also a significant number in the general population who have some symptoms of PTSD, according to Kate Harmon (2009), writing for "Military Spouse" magazine, "in a given year, about 7.7 million American adults suffer from PTSD."  Last month, November 2016 I discussed the foundations for dysfunction as developmental trauma that occurs in approximately 95% of families. When a person experiences trauma, PTSD often occurs.

Continue reading below...

Aromatherapy for PTSD

As I discussed in my article Flower Power in the September 2016 newsletter, the olfactory sense is connected with the limbic brain which also has a connection with memory. More than any other sense, the olfactory sense can be the source of triggering memories. Whenever I smell freshly cut grass, I return in my memory as I follow my father up and down the rows as he mowed the lawn when I was a child growing up in Ohio. Fortunately, that is a positive memory for me. The memories associated with PTSD are horrifying at worst and disturbing at best.

The standard treatment for PTSD typically includes both medication (antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety) and psychotherapy. There are many types of therapy used to address trauma, some are more effective than others. There is also some interesting research that has revealed that essential oils are quite effective in helping effected individuals manage crucial stress situations common to PTSD without the long-term effects or side-effects of medication.

Additional studies are identifying the olfactory sense as not only being the only sense directly connected with the limbic brain, but also the only of the five senses that can play a significant role in healing trauma. I plan to explore this further and will report back but I can say that whatever is conditioned once (memory associated with a smell) can be reconditioned.

If you are aware that there is a particular scent that is associated for you with anxiety and/or trauma, you could try creating an association with a positive scent such as Lavender by taking a bath infused with Lavender essential oils. Make it a relaxing and pleasant experience by adding candles and soft music. Do this several times. Then when you are next triggered by anxiety, try smelling Lavender to see if it helps you calm down faster.

In the September 2016 article, I talked about my adventure into Aromatherapy. I continue to make progress towards my certification and expect to be certified by January 2017. I continue to be amazed and delighted by the power and effectiveness of essential oils.

I work with individuals who are interested in overcoming trauma and blocks to moving forward. Please click here: to contact me.

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Jaqui Duvall works as a coach, mentor, trainer, facilitator and public speaker developing and delivering workshops, leading mentoring groups and working with individuals to help them identify and express their inner spirit and live a life of consciousness and intention. •  San Jose