Do you ever get that feeling that your brain is spinning and overexcited, to the point where you can’t really focus and there are some feelings of anxiousness that go along with it? I know I am prone to that – sometimes I feel like my brain is in overdrive, but that takes away from my focus rather than contributing to it. Petitgrain essential oil calms the brain and supports healthy cognition.
Petitgrain comes from the leaf of the bitter orange plant. It is somewhat similar in chemistry to lavender – and therefore has similar calming and soothing effects. Men tend to like Petitgrain because it’s not as florally-smelling as lavender, so they can be calm without smelling all girly! It is a little more earthy smelling, with some secondary notes of citrus and floral. One of the other differences is that while lavender is made up of many different chemical constituents (around 64), petitgrain has just 17 main ones. This does not necessarily give it less activity; in fact when oils are made up of fewer compounds, there can be even greater activity and benefit as those compounds are more concentrated.
What I love the most about Petitgrain is the calming effect it has on the nervous system, both centrally and peripherally. Therefore it increases calm feelings, can reduce sad and anxious feelings, and can increase sleeping time and quality. One of it’s major chemical constituents, linalool, inhibits GABA transaminase – the enzyme that breaks down GABA. The net result is more GABA in the brain which has a calming effect, while at the same time increasing focus and clarity. Linalool also exites receptors for serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters – thus further supporting greater cognitive function and sense of peace and happiness.
In the peripheral nervous system, Petitgrain also acts in a soothing fashion, so it can reduce over-excitability of nerves and the discomfort that might come from that. In those cases the best way to use Petitgrain is on the affected area. For calming and focussing the brain, Petitgrain can be diffused, or taken internally.
Another benefit of Petitgrain is to support the immune system. We all know that stress reduces our immune system’s capability to keep us healthy. This is largely because of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis; the sympathetic nervous system activation (commonly known as fight or flight response) has a suppressive action on immune cells. Linolool restores neutraphils and lymphocytes (two types of immune cells) to normal levels, and upregulates genes that are critical for the healthy functioning of the immune system.
Petitgrain smells so good, and has such great benefits. doTERRA has been working on sourcing and harvesting Petitgrain and it is now available to us. It’s fast becoming one of my favorite essential oils – I have been putting a drop between my palms and just rubbing it on my shoulders, that way I get the benefit of inhaling the aromas. I also have mixed it in a diffuser with Citrus Bliss and that was a delicious combination.