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Connect to Life by Connecting to Nature: Bringing the outdoors in with Essential Oils

Have you ever sat and just watched the stillness of a slow-moving stream, feeling the caress of a light breeze in your hair, the warmth of sun on your face, the music of the birds as they trill and whistle, and the sensation of smells lingering in the air? As your mind imagines this, can you smell the water? What does “wet” smell like? The air and water molecules, mixed with the grasses, soaked wood, mulched leaves and twigs, and budding flowers create a special blend of aromas carrying with it the life memory of each originating source. The air we breathe is full of atoms and molecules and other microbes, some beneficial, and some not-so-nice as we know from our recent pandemic, but there is a mix of life on all levels that we don’t see.

This leads to an interesting and common phenomenon of nature and chemistry, that happens all the time unseen, known as ionization. Ions are all around us as a natural process of life, some as positive ions, and some as negative ions which are atoms (and molecules) that are negative, not in the sense of being adversarial, but because they hold a negative charge. Why is this important? Well, the charge of these ions makes a difference to us biologically as we breathe them in.(1)

Science has known about ions for over 100 years and that negative ions are found in abundance in nature, especially in the presence of sunlight, flowing water sources, such as streams, waterfalls, and oceans, and in plant-based sources of energy.(2) Science has also discovered that breathing in negative ions by spending time in and among these natural environments causes a rise in our serotonin levels, this being one of the “happy” hormones released throughout our nervous system and known to balance mood and increase happiness.(3) No wonder we feel so refreshed after spending time on the beach or on a hike through the woods!

On the other hand, positive ions have the opposite effect and can lead to something called “ion poisoning.”(4) Positive ions are prevalent around electronic equipment, toxic chemicals in pollution and plastics, mold, dander, pollen, and dust, and even nylon found in carpet and in our clothes. We have become accustomed to being immersed in this sea of molecular activity without realizing that it saps our energy, slows brain function, and can increase irritability.(5) Having to stay indoors doesn’t help and the resulting decrease of serotonin in our system can lead to depression, anxiety, and even insomnia.(6)

Luckily there are natural and easy ways to increase exposure to negative ions in the air. One way is to get outdoors and enjoy nature, but with the ongoing pandemic, along with heat waves and a smoky atmosphere, that’s not a great option. However, you can bring the outdoors in by using and diffusing essential oils! Ionic, or ultrasonic, diffusers break down essential oils into a vapor and release them as negative ions, dispersing them throughout a room, even working to pull dust and allergens from the air giving us the same benefits of running a humidifier, although on a much smaller scale.

Even simply inhaling certain essential oils from a bottle has been found to increase the release of hormones such as dopamine and serotonin helping to reduce anxiety and boost feelings of pleasure, love, and a general sense of well-being.(7) Grasses like Palmarosa and Lemongrass, citrus oils, like Lemon, Orange, and Bergamot, tree oils like Eucalyptus, Spruce, and Balsam Fir can bring a meadow, garden grove, or a forest to your living space.

So, if you feel like you are missing a connection to life and the fresh aromas of nature, think of essential oils and the amazing benefits that a few whiffs can offer. 🌿


(1) Biological impact of small air ions, Science Magazine, Krueger, AP, EJ Reed, 9/24/1976. (2) Negative Ions and Their Effects on Human Health and Air Quality Improvement, multiple authors, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 9/28/2018. (3) Essential Guide To Serotonin And The Other Happy Hormones In Your Body, Atlas Biomed Team, 5/27/2020.

(4) Positive Ion Poisoning, Rahi, GS, 9/7/202. (5) Serotonin Deficiency: What We Do And Don’t Know, Moyer, Nancy L, 2/27/2019. (6) Ibid. (7) Aromatherapy and the central nerve system (CNS): therapeutic mechanism and its associated genes, multiple authors, PubMed, 7/2013.

Please note: The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any medical condition or disease. If you are taking medications, or need medical advice, please check with your physician.

Photo of Spring Lake, Santa Rosa, California courtesy of Sierra and Gabe Seciureanu.

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