Emotional Flashbacks

80% of what we think is taste actually comes from our sense of smell. And the sense of smell has direct access to the limbic system of the brain, which is the seat of our emotions. So both the senses of taste and smell are intimately connected to our emotions. No wonder we can weep over really good chocolate!

Designed for Connection

"So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!" - Genesis 24:24


Because essential oils affect the limbic system in the brain, sometimes there are association issues with certain scents. For instance, one night at a presentation I was giving, we passed around a bottle of lavender. One lady instantly said she was brought back to the memory of giving birth to her last baby. A good memory! But sometimes, it’s the opposite.

The woman described how, in her case, she used lavender to help her relax and breathe through painful contractions. Her brain recorded the memory and associated it with the joy of giving birth to her precious daughter!

My daughter rubbed Frankincense on a few warts she had on her foot over a period of about 2 weeks. Although it was a positive experience, she recently told me that she doesn’t like Frankincense “because it smells like warts.” Funny, but true! Memories stick! (And Frankincense smells amazing, by the way!)

Another daughter thinks Dill smells like caterpillars. When we were growing caterpillars to watch them turn into butterflies, we had gathered them from our Dill plants in the front yard. This also created an association issue.

“Researchers have found that the formation of autobiographical memory peaks between the ages of 15 and 30…it’s when people are going to college, getting married, and starting to establish themselves in the world… 

“What we found was really amazing…for visual and verbal cues, people’s memories came from their teens and 20s, as expected. But for smells, the peak was around age 5. It was really, totally clear that when they recollected a specific memory, that memory was localized to the childhood period…the memories were also more emotional and more vivid than memories brought up by visual or verbal cues.” – Psychological Science, “Fragrant Flashback,” Helen Fields

It All Makes “Scents!”

So, maybe you “can’t stand the smell” of a certain oil. Perhaps you have some sort of bad association with that scent or something similar – it could even be a memory you don’t consciously remember. But I’ve found that, with deliberate use, this issue can fade and new memories can be created. If it’s a needed oil, it’s easy to work through the issue and create new, positive memories that will change your associations to that particular scent. Many people find that an oil they once “hated” soon becomes their favorite oil of all!

However, let’s say your husband just can’t stand the smell of lavender! There are plenty of other oils that help with sleep, so I would limit the lavender use to things he really needs it for, and try it again for sleep later – after he’s successfully created a positive association to it.

Other good “sleep oils” are: Sandalwood, Frankincense, Peace & Calming, Valor, Dream Catcher, Vetiver, Tranquil, and RutaVala.

Also, YL has a supplement called Sleep Essence that contains four powerful essential oils that have unique sleep-enhancing properties in a softgel vegetarian capsule for easy ingestion. Combining lavender, vetiver, valerian, and Ruta graveolens essential oils with the hormone melatonin—a well-known sleep aid—SleepEssence is a natural way to enable a full night’s rest.

“When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered…the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls…bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory” – Marcel Proust


To get started using therapeutic-grade essential oils with your family, I recommend purchasing Young Living’s amazing Premium Starter Kit & get personalized help from me! Click here to shop!

By the way, I am not a doctor – just a mom who uses essential oils in her own family. Please know that any information provided on The Common Scents Mom is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to prescribe, diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, nor replace current medical treatment or drugs prescribed by your healthcare professional. The statements made have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is your responsibility to educate yourself and address any health or medical needs you may have with your physician. Please seek professional help when needed.

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