Ep. 351 Unlocking Nature’s Secrets: Essential Oils 101 with Jodi Cohen

Your trusted source for nutrition, wellness, and mindset for thriving health.

It is my pleasure today to introduce Jodi Cohen, a best-selling author, award-winning journalist, functional practitioner, and the Founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, where her training in nutritional therapy and aromatherapy come together to craft unique and exclusive proprietary blends of organic and wildcrafted essential oils. 

Jodi has assisted more than 50,000 individuals in overcoming brain-related issues such as anxiety, insomnia, and autoimmunity. In our discussion today, we dive into the fundamental aspects of essential oils, looking at what they are and how they work. We examine the role of the blood-brain barrier and the influence of the autonomic nervous system, focusing on the parasympathetic nervous system and vagus nerve. We explore the importance of vagal tone, the implications of vagal nerve dysfunction and toxicities, and the lymphatic system while also looking at the role of fascia in memories and trauma and the profound effects of essential oils on sleep quality, weight management, and more. 

I am excited to share this insightful conversation with Jodi Cohen, as it provides invaluable insights into the vast potential of essential oils in promoting holistic well-being.

“We can use essential oils in so many powerful ways to help regulate the nervous system and tell the body that it is safe to detoxify, digest, absorb, and assimilate nutrients.”

– Jodi Cohen


  • What essential oils are and how they work clinically
  • The most effective way to use essential oils
  • How emotional or mental dangers can trigger the autonomic nervous system  
  • The autonomic nervous system can cause inflammation, impaired digestion, and compromised immune function if it is constantly activated
  • Stimulating the vagus nerve can improve resilience and reduce stress
  • Some natural ways to stimulate the vagus nerve
  • The connection between the brain and digestion and how stress can impact digestion and overall health
  • How fascia intertwines with the lymph and vagus nerve
  • Essential oils can facilitate emotional release
  • The benefits of essential oils for sleep and weight management during perimenopause and menopause


Jodi Sternoff Cohen is a bestselling author, award-winning journalist, functional practitioner, and founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, where she has combined her training in nutritional therapy and aromatherapy to create unique proprietary blends of organic and wild-crafted essential oils. She has helped over 50,000 clients heal from brain-related challenges, including anxiety, insomnia, and autoimmunity.

For the past ten years, she has lectured at wellness centers, conferences, and corporations on brain health, essential oils, stress, and detoxification. She has been seen in The New York Times, Wellness Mama, Elephant Journal, and numerous publications. Her website, vibrantblueoils.com, is visited by over 300,000 natural health seekers every year, and she has rapidly become a top resource for essential oils education on the Internet today.

Connect with Cynthia Thurlow

Connect with Jodi Cohen

Use the coupon code WELCOME 10 for $10 off anything you purchase from the Vibrant Blue Oils Shop

Jodi’s book, Essential Oils to Boost the Brain and Heal the Body, is available on Amazon and most anywhere books are sold.


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:00:02] Welcome to Everyday Wellness podcast. I’m your host, Nurse Practitioner, Cynthia Thurlow. This podcast is designed to educate, empower, and inspire you to achieve your health and wellness goals. My goal and intent is to provide you with the best content and conversations from leaders in the health and wellness industry each week and impact over a million lives.


[00:00:29] Today, I had the honor of connecting with Jodi Cohen. She is a bestselling author, award-winning journalist, functional practitioner, and founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, where she’s combined her training in nutritional therapy and aromatherapy to create unique, proprietary blends of organic and wild crafted essential oils. Today, we spoke at length about what are essential oils? How do they work? The role of the blood-brain barrier, the impact of the autonomic nervous system, specifically the parasympathetic nervous system and vagus nerve, the importance of vagal tone, the impact of vagal nerve dysfunction and toxicities, the lymphatic system, fascia and its role in memories and trauma, the impact of essential oils on sleep, weight loss and more. I know you will enjoy this conversation as much as I did recording it. 


[00:01:26] Welcome, Jodi. I’ve been so looking forward to this conversation and really diving into all of the pertinent information surrounding essential oils and clinical applications and knowing that most of my community is dealing with chronic and acute stress and how beneficial these can be.


Jodi Cohen: [00:01:43] I totally agree. I’m so excited. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:01:45] Yeah. So, let’s talk a little bit about what exactly are essential oils and how do they work clinically? 


Jodi Cohen: [00:01:52] Yeah. Essential oils are the concentrated essences of plants. So, think of a field of lavender. They go and they pick the lavender, they put it immediately in the distiller, which is basically a vat of boiling water. The water boils and the steam rises and then it separates. So the oils and water don’t mix. Oil is heavier than water. It goes down one side and then the water, the hydrosol goes down the other. And so, we all know that food is medicine, plants are medicine. We ingest plants, we ingest the animals that graze on plants. And most of our pharmaceutical drugs are actually based on plants. People don’t remember that, like Valium comes from valerian root, that aspirin is white willow bark. We can’t patent anything that’s found in nature, so they modify it slightly. So we’ve been using plants as medicine for years, and this is just a very concentrated form that actually has easier channels to get into your body than some of the other remedies that we ingest. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:02:52] Yeah. I think it’s so important for me with my cardiology ER medicine background, there was a drug called digoxin, which is used for people with heart arrhythmias, people in heart failure. And that comes from a plant called digitalis. It’s an old drug, but the irony is it would probably never pass FDA inspection now as opposed to 70, 80 years ago. And so to me, understanding that at the root of most pharmaceutical agents are plants in nature, which I think is really exciting. And so, when we talk about how these essential oils work mechanistically in the body, let’s use some examples. I know you mentioned lavender, which is incredibly calming. When my kids were little, they loved, I would rub it on their feet at night and put socks on. And that was, like, part of this ritualistic experience that they had prior to bedtime. But in some instances, when we talk about applying these to the body through the skin, inhaling them, etc. What have you found to be the most efficacious way to utilize most of these products? Because I know it can be some people ingest them, some people diffuse them. What do you think is the most efficacious way to use them? 

Jodi Cohen: [00:04:03] Honestly, the most efficacious way to use them is just to smell, to inhale. Most people don’t realize what a superpower your sense of smell is. Actually, smell equals survival. You have to smell food, you have to smell water, you have to smell predator odor. When people age and they lose their sense of smell, they sometimes eat spoiled food and they die. Smell is critical to survival and your body actually recognizes this. Of your five senses, your sense of smell is the only one that has direct access to the limbic system of the brain, the amygdala, both functionally and anatomically. When you smell, it goes into the nasal passageway, and then the blood-brain barrier is thinner there, so it can go directly up to the olfactory bulb, which is right near the amygdala. 


[00:04:49] And so this is a reason smell has such a powerful effect on memory. It’s correlated with the hippocampus, which is part of the limbic system, and that’s a protective measure. If your village burned down because of a fire and you smell fire, you know that’s danger. If your mom used to bake blackberry pie in the summer, and you came home and you smell blackberries, all of a sudden, that feels like safety. So, it’s really just correlated to survival, which is one of the things that I think is so amazing with oils. The other thing that’s really interesting as you know as a nurse practitioner, it’s really hard to get remedies into the brain. Like, you can’t do chemotherapy on the brain because the molecules are too big. Only super small fat-soluble molecules can get through. So in a weird way, oils are kind of the perfect key to unlock access to the brain. And we can use them in so many powerful ways to help regulate the nervous system, to help tell the body that it’s safe, so that it’s actually able to detoxify or digest, absorb and assimilate nutrients.


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:05:48] Oh, it’s so important. And for me, smell is such a powerful memory stimulant. I always think when I smell fresh carrots, like carrots that are in a garden with the smell of dirt, I think of my grandparent’s garden when I was a child. And I have so many amazing memories. And so I was saying to kids, there will probably be things that will be equally powerful for you from your childhood that we don’t even understand fully, like how powerful. Your description of this interrelationship between crossing the blood- brain barrier, but also how important memories are in terms of the hippocampus and reaching that, you know, the process of smelling them. Do you think that there are misconceptions or bad advice surrounding essential oils?


[00:06:31] I know this may sound controversial, but I think that maybe 10 years ago it seemed like every mom that I knew in my neighborhood was using essential oils. And everyone was very excited about this because you could diffuse it, we could apply it to our skin, some people were ingesting it. Do you have opinions? And I’m sure that you probably do or causes of concern, if people are going overboard, obviously, I would say a small amount can be very useful. You don’t necessarily have to be using an enormous amount. And I know in preparation for our discussion, you were talking about diffusing essential oils that can be wonderful, but there are other ways to actually get the benefits without using quite as much essential oil. 


Jodi Cohen: [00:07:11] Yeah. I think, first of all, for everyone that’s using them, if you are doing something that you love, keep doing it. Like, when people work for me, I never take away coffee if they need it. But I do think a couple of things. I don’t think it’s a magic bullet for everything. I think that essential oils are an amazing adjunct to diet, lifestyle supplements in very specific ways. And that’s what we’ve seen in clinical practice over the last 12 years. It’s great for regulating the nervous system and helping your body know that it’s safe so it can heal. It’s great for modulating your immune system and calming mast cell activation. It’s great for detoxification and helping to physically, topically apply over the lymphatic system. It’s great for calming the limbic system. 

[00:07:55] But you know, beyond that there’re are certain things like I get questions all the time, “Will this help with the UTI?” And I’m like, “Don’t apply this to your genitals.” Will this help with this? And I’m like, “It’s a little bit like, you also have to make lifestyle changes.” Like, if you’re celiac and you’re going to keep eating pizza, it doesn’t really matter what oils you’re using. So, I think it can be incredibly powerful. I don’t think it’s the only thing. I think that some methods are more efficacious than others. I think inhalation is fabulous. I think it’s very hard to hurt yourself smelling oils. I think topical application is really powerful. I think there are certain reflex points that make it even more powerful. 


[00:08:32] And again, as you were saying, “Some oils are very concentrated, some are considered hot.” Oregano, cinnamon, thyme and what that would mean is if you were to put a very small drop and always test on your skin, it might turn red, it might feel warm. And that just means that it’s too concentrated and you need to dilute it. And what that means is you don’t put water on it because remember oil and water don’t mix. You would take another oil; it could be the coconut oil or the olive oil in your kitchen and just mix that in and so it dilutes it down. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:09:01] And that makes so much sense. And I can tell you that probably 15 years ago, maybe 10 years ago, I had peppermint oil and my kids loved the way it smelled. And obviously, we weren’t applying it to our skin, but my youngest son at that time took a little bit out and put it on his skin and it is a hot oil. And so, we learned very quickly that those carrier oils, especially with the hot essential oils, are definitely things that you want to consider and keeping it easy. Like, you don’t have to buy a special carrier oil. It could be incorporating something you already have in your pantry, which I love knowing about that. Let’s talk a little bit about the autonomic nervous system. I think that this is very important. 


[00:09:40] Four years ago, our lives all changed drastically with the start of the pandemic. And there were certainly, I would say, “If you weren’t experiencing more stress immediately at the start of the pandemic, as time went on, you definitely were dealing with things we’ve never lived through and certainly in our lifetime.” But helping listeners understand the role of the autonomic nervous system, how we have two branches, the sympathetic, the parasympathetic, and why so many of us are stuck in this chronic stress response. We call it sympathetic dominance, but how that impacts our health. 


Jodi Cohen: [00:10:13] Yeah. I mean, the key thing is your autonomic nervous system controls all of your automatic functions, all of the things that you do involuntarily without putting any thought into it. You don’t need to think about breathing. You don’t need to think about digesting your food or detoxifying your toxins in your waste. You don’t need to think about turning on your immune system. You don’t need to think about reproducing. And it’s also designed to keep us alive, which means that it allocates resources towards survival. So, if there is any kind of physical danger, I don’t see many tigers chasing people down the street, but there are times when a car is changing lanes and they don’t see you. All of your resources are allocated towards survival. 


[00:10:50] So your eyes narrow, you kind of have that tunnel vision so you can really focus and survive. Your respiration changes so that you have more oxygen to either flee, run away, or fight back. So, it activates what’s called your sympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system, which is your fight or flight resource. And it means that all the blood flow is routed away from your core. So, digestion, detoxification towards your arms and your legs. And ideally, what happens is the danger arises, you either run from it or you fight back. You survive. Any one of us who have dogs, what do they do? They bark at another dog and they shake. When they’re shaking, they’re basically recalibrating and resetting their nervous system. There’s a great free book called Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. And it talks about this, how animals in nature are constantly able to recalibrate and turn on the healing parasympathetic state. They survive the danger and they reset. 


[00:11:44] Unfortunately, it’s not just physical danger that can trigger our autonomic nervous system. It’s any kind of emotional or mental danger. Like you mentioned, you turn on the news and you see, “Oh, my goodness, so many people are getting sick. Am I going to get sick? Is my kid going to get sick? Is this going to hurt my parents? What can I do?” You’re so afraid for your survival based on kind of thought-driven emotional triggers that you get into that sympathetic danger state and you kind of get stuck there. This is also true of trauma, you survived a car accident or an assault or whatever it is. And if you don’t process it, that’s kind of running in the background. And so, you’re always on high alert. And what this means is that your resources are constantly allocated towards survival and not allocated toward restoration and repair. You’re not actually digesting, absorbing, and assimilating your nutrients. Your cells aren’t letting go of the garbage so that they can leave. 


[00:12:38] Your immune system is really turned off so that all of these pathogens can run wild and be opportunistic without any interference. Your inflammation can start to increase because it’s the parasympathetic nervous system that releases the neurotransmitter acetylcholine that anti inflames. So, really it’s not talked about, but it’s almost like if you’re trying to ride your bike in the wrong gear, like you’re trying to go up a hill and you’re in the highest gear, you’re not going to get very far. If you can gear shift into a lower gear, it’s totally fine. You’re trying to heal and in the background your body is stuck in this stress response and not actually working with you to help you heal. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:13:20] Yeah. I think it’s such an important point and certainly one that I think any woman in middle age and perimenopause and menopause, with the hormonal changes that are occurring, we become less stress resilient. And I see a lot of very successful women, women who have very demanding jobs, whether it’s at home or in the boardroom or occupationally, that start to slip and slide a bit in middle age because their body becomes a little less stress resilient. And they still want to do the 05:30 AM CrossFit. They don’t want to get into bed early enough. They’re eating like they were at 20, which no longer serves us in many instances. And I say this without judgment people are eating like 20-year-olds and 25-year-olds and we have to eat differently. And I would probably say more nutrient dense, less inflammatory foods. 


[00:14:07] And understanding this complex interrelationship when we’re talking about the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. And I do find that most women are struggling with being chronically overwhelmed. They may not even know, I always use the analogy of, you look at a duck swimming across the lake. It looks very calm from the surface, but underneath it’s paddling furiously. And so, I start to think about a lot of these women. They look on the exterior like they have everything together, but inside they’re struggling, trying to keep up all their appearances. So, one thing that I think really plays into the autonomic nervous system is talking about this very special nerve. It’s a cranial nerve, the vagus nerve. They call it the wanderer. It is the longest nerve in the body. It helps connect the gut and the brain. Let’s talk about its purpose and why it’s so important to have good vagal tone. That term may not be familiar to everyone that’s listening, but we’re going to explain why it’s such an important area of the body to focus in on. 


Jodi Cohen: [00:15:05] Yeah, the vagus nerve, cranial nerve number 10 is literally the gear shift between sympathetic fight or flight. I’m in danger and all resources are allocated towards survival and parasympathetic rest and digest. I can heal. It’s correlated with blood sugar and cortisol. It keeps those stress hormones on high alter and you can’t lose weight if you’re constantly flooding your system with blood sugar and cortisol. So, what’s interesting is quick anatomy lesson of where the vagus nerve starts. It’s the gut-brain axis, it connects the brain to the body. So, it starts the very base of the skull. It splits and winds around both sides. If you feel with me behind your ears, you’re going to feel a bone that is your mastoid bone. So that is where your vagus nerve is literally the most accessible to the surface and the thickest. From there it winds through the throat, the heart, the lungs, every organ of digestion and detoxification. 


[00:16:02] Often, if any kind of ailment you’re experiencing, it’s often correlated to the vagus nerve and to the vagus nerve being in the wrong gear. If you’re turning on the radio and you can’t hear something, you’re like, “Oh, maybe the volume is too low.” So, you turn up the volume. If there’s something going on in your body and your vagus nerve isn’t really carrying that message from the brain to the body. The way to turn up the volume, which is called vagal tone, which is basically adding to your resilience, adding to your capacity for stress, is to stimulate it. There’s a ton of research. There was actually a New York neuroscientist named Kevin Tracey who started playing with a surgically implanted vagus nerve device. It’s two operations, one behind the earlobe and then one lower down with the battery. And the battery has to be changed occasionally. But basically, it’s stimulating the vagus nerve at this point to strengthen it a little bit like a weightlifting routine. And the FDA has actually improved this device for epilepsy, migraines, and depression. 


[00:17:02] There are also a number of natural ways to stimulate your vagus nerve. Laughing stimulates your vagus nerve. Deep breathing, box breathing stimulates your vagus nerve. Taking a tongue depressor and gagging yourself, that stimulates the vagus nerve, cold plunges. There are a million ways you can do it. But what I noticed in clinical practice, especially, I’m very anxious for people like me who are anxious when you’re having a panic attack, even though you know deep breathing is a great choice, somehow that’s hard. We all have the supplement graveyard, all of the supplements in our pantry that probably would help us if we actually ingested them. But for whatever reason, it’s too hard to remember to do it. So, what I love about oils is it’s easy. We have a roller bottle. We call it parasympathetic. You basically just apply a teeny bit behind each earlobe. It’s interesting. You can do it one side or both. One of the ways to tell you want to strengthen the weak side. 


[00:17:55] So you can do it actually by just looking in the mirror, opening your mouth, your uvula, the little thing at the back of your mouth, if you go ah, ah, ah it should go up kind of in a straight line. If it goes to one side more than the other, that means that that side is stronger and pulling a little harder, so to kind of even it out. If it’s going to the right, you would want to apply the parasympathetic and stimulate the left side so that you’re just creating balance in the body. But this is just, I found, it’s interesting with smell, it has a Pavlovian effect that we’ve talked about in memory. So, you can topically apply it, or very quickly you start to smell it, and it’s almost like it sends that signal, “Oh, yeah, relax. Calm down, you’re going to be safe.” 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:18:36] It’s such an important reminder. And I love that you refer to the supplement graveyard. I think everyone listening, myself included, it’s like I regularly have to purge things because who knows for any number of reasons, I’m like, “Oh, that seems like a good idea.” And then I start it and I’m like, “Okay, I’m not getting any effect. Then it gets added to the supplement graveyard.” And like you I like to simplify things. So if it has multiple purposes, it’s easy to apply. I don’t have to swallow it, even better. And certainly, if it’s easily accessible, like keeping these things easily accessible. 


Jodi Cohen: [00:19:09] Oh, yeah. I have one in my car, I have one in my purse. Like I never leave home without it. And it’s fabulous because similar to your duck analogy, I use the analogy of a traffic incident. You’re driving and someone cuts you off and some days you’re like, “Ah, whatever, maybe they’re in a hurry.” You don’t care. The sun is shining, there’s a song on the radio. You’re not in a rush, you’re all good. The next day, the exact same thing happens and four-letter words are falling out of your mouth. And the only difference is you in that moment and your capacity for resilience. And what I found is that the more you can strengthen your vagal tone, apply essential oil, do deep breathing, whatever you like to do, the more resilient you get. It’s like going to a workout. The first Pilates class you can’t believe you can’t even sit down. And then a week in you’re like, “Oh, I feel better.” It’s not that it got easier, it’s that you got stronger. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:20:00] Yeah. And that’s an important point, that resiliency piece. And so, what are some of the things that can contribute to vagal nerve dysfunction? So, I think this is important. And again, a byproduct of our modern-day lifestyles for sure. 


Jodi Cohen: [00:20:16] Yeah. It’s really interesting. It can be a combination of both physical and emotional toxins. So on a physical level, if you think about where the vagus nerve is, like kind of right behind the earlobe on that mastoid bone, what intersects with that nerve? Trigeminal nerve, anything draining from your mouth. So, your mouth is kind of the entry point toxicants in the world. It can also be home to toxicants. You can have cavitations that are causing some kind of pathogenic response. You can have metal amalgams that are creating waste. All of these things need to drain down along the jawline, intersect with the vagus nerve, and then leave the body by way of the neck. The neck is the big bottleneck. Because it can get really congested. So, let’s just say we have tech neck. We’re all hunched over our device or whatever. So our fascia is kind of constricting, and then maybe our lymph is really congested and bumping into people.


[00:21:09] Think of if you’ve ever been in the middle seat in the airplane, maybe between two linebackers. Like, I’ve had times, I couldn’t even read a book. [Cynthia laughs] Like, I have no space to kind of turn pages. If your lymph is congested that way, your poor vagus nerve gets squashed. There’s this researcher, Marco Ruggiero, who basically took sonograms of the neck, pictures of the neck, and he saw exactly that. He saw the lymph being so congested that it’s basically squishing the vagus nerve. So now the vagus nerve isn’t able to signal. That’s called vagus nerve toxicity. 


[00:21:40] And if the toxins are just sitting there and not really draining, they get absorbed by the nerve. They can be carried into the brain. It’s this condition. There’s actually a tufts neuroscientist called Michael VanElzakker, who called it vagus nerve infection hypothesis. A lot of the practitioners who work with chronically ill patients call it some kind of vagus nerve toxicity. But basically, what it is, is there’s some toxin, be it a virus or a metal or something, that is congesting the nerve and impairing the signaling. So now all of those messages from the brain aren’t getting sent to the body. The body’s never realizing, “Oh, it’s safe. Oh, in response to what I’m eating, I should secrete this enzyme.” What people don’t realize is digestion is actually stimulated by the vagus nerve. 


[00:22:25] The vagus nerve tells the mouth to release saliva when you’re safe, when it’s safe to digest your food, your stomach to release hydrochloric acid, your pancreas to release all the enzymes to break down your food, your gallbladder to release bile, your motility wave, the small intestine, that moving walkway that sometimes stops moving when you have, like, SIBO or other issues, and then constipation, actually elimination. If you are thinking about stress, if you’re worrying about something, if you’re watching the news and getting concerned about something that’s happening in our country or another part of the world, you’re turning off your digestion, you’re turning off your ability to assimilate the raw materials, the nutrients that you need to heal. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:23:06] Such an important point. And it’s interesting, years ago, when my kids were in elementary school, I would do presentations, talking about different things, and I would always ask the kids, “Where does digestion start?” And they always had great answers, “It starts in your mouth, it starts in your esophagus, it starts in your stomach.” And I’m like, “It actually starts in your brain.” So, understanding that, it’s not just the digestion piece, but priming your body to accept food, but for the same reason why chronically stressed people oftentimes deal with constipation. I jokingly talk about a family member who remain nameless, that anytime they leave the house, if they go on vacation, they can’t go to the bathroom, they can’t defecate, because I always say they’re the nonpublic poopers, but they struggle with feeling safe or feeling like they can fully relax, sadly, even if they’re on vacation. And so helping everyone understand that if our body doesn’t perceive that it’s safe, it’s not going to function optimally.


[00:24:00] Now, you’ve talked a little bit, you’ve touched on the lymphatic system, and again, not something we have solely focused on in the podcast. But I think it’s so important. I think people rarely think about the lymphatic system. They don’t understand what it does, what the role is in the body. It’s so important. Let’s talk a little bit about lymphatics, and then we’ll touch on fascia, because again, another topic, really important. And I was telling you before we started recording that I’ve had a couple abdominal surgeries between C-sections and appendectomy, etc., and I’m actually having fascia work done on those scars. And we’ll talk about why that’s so important. 


Jodi Cohen: [00:24:38] The best way I can describe the lymph system, it’s kind of the septic system of the body. But for anyone who’s ever seen a fish tank or had a fish tank, it can get really murky unless you clean the filters. The filters are your lymph. Basically, it does two things. It helps remove– it carries the toxins from the cells into the bloodstream where it’s then carried to the liver, the gallbladder, the gut, and ideally the toilet to leave the body. But it’s step one. So just like a fish tank, if that water is getting murky, the fish are covered in it. If the garbage isn’t leaving our cells, our extracellular matrix and, like, fluid around the cells, it’s not healthy, it’s not clean, and it’s kind of causing internal damage. 


[00:25:21] And so most people don’t realize, we know our lymph is correlated with our circulatory system. And the circulatory system has a pump, the heart. The lymph does not. The pump is you moving, you raising your arms above your head, you walking, you rebounding, all of these things you basically need to move in order for your lymph to move. And there are certain kind of bottlenecks or congestion. Anyone that drives, like, I live in Seattle. If you’re going to go to Portland, there’s always congestion in Tacoma, there’s always congestion in Olympia. The big congestion point in the body is the clavicles and the neck, and that’s because all of the lymph flows here to carry it into the heart where it can then leave the body. 


[00:26:03] So if you just feel with me, kind of gently on your clavicles, just rub, touch, if that feels tender, if you like me, sometimes in yoga, you’re lying on your stomach and your breasts are tender or under your arms are tender. That just means that it’s a little bit of a congested area. And the easiest way to move that is like, gentle touch or essential oils. This is what’s so nice, is oils. I like blends. I mean, I think individual oils are amazing. But just like a recipe. You might just have olive oil on your salad, that’s totally fine and sometimes delicious. But if you add in a little salt and a little bit more seasonings, like, the combination of the nutrients is really what makes it robust. 


[00:26:43] Lymph massages are amazing. There are so many at-home devices that you can use, but when you combine it with oil, it just makes it last a little longer. There is a gentleman named Perry Nickerson, Stop Chasing Pain. That has a protocol that I really think is brilliant. It’s called the Big 6. He tells you what order to do everything in. So, the six points. The first one is the clavicle, and it can be just gently brushing 10 times to the side. It can be doing circles. It can be light tapping. You pick the flavor that works the best for you. The second point is really mastoid point. There are some lymph nodes there. Just opening that up and, like, helping to move things down the neck. Kind of opening the exit doors, and now you’re helping the drainage down the neck. So, one is clavicle, two is neck.


[00:27:34] Three is the underarm area and just making sure that this– you can squeeze it. If it’s tender, you gently move it. The fourth is the gut. And just kind of moving your hands up and down to get some movement there. The fifth is the inguinal area, the bikini line. Just kind of gently pressing. And then the last one surprised me. It’s behind the knees. So, these are all points where you can be a little puffy, a little congested. That just means that the lymph is a little stagnant, maybe, as opposed to being like water, it’s more like jelly. So, you’re just opening those watershed points to make sure that things can move, and oils just help. It’s like leaving the acupuncture needle in a little bit longer, just stimulates even when you’re onto your next activity.


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:28:18] No, And I love that these are things people can do from the safety of their own home, once they’re empowered about their bodies. And one area that I think is important to address because we talk about detoxification. We talk about brain health. Obviously, sleep is a topic we discuss often on the podcast. There’s a special lymphatic system, the glymphatic system in the brain that operates during deep sleep. And we know as we get older, it’s common for people to have less high-quality deep sleep, which impacts their ability to utilize the glymphatic system. Let’s talk a little bit about this because it’s very special and unique. 


Jodi Cohen: [00:28:55] Yeah. So, the glymphatic system is basically car wash in the brain. And when you’re awake and you need your brain to be at high capacity, when you’re sleeping, the brain actually shrinks so that the fluid can kind of wash it out. It helps wash out toxins. It helps wash out amyloid proteins and other things that can lead to brain degeneration. And so, it’s really cleaning the brain and then where does it go? Where does it carry the fluid? Down the neck. So, what happens? You’ve got kind of all this waste that needs to leave and if there is congestion in the neck, then it’s the bottleneck. Just like traffic, there’s congestion into coma. So, your cars are backed up like 20 miles out. 


[00:29:33] So what’s really important that I think is one of the biggest obstacles to healing that I don’t hear people talking about is making sure that that neck is open. And this is where I think essential oils are an amazing adjunct. You can use the parasympathetic to stimulate the vagus nerve. You can use the lymph oil to kind of open the bottleneck points, the clavicles and the neck, and just ensure that everything flows down. And then fascia is the one thing that you kind of alluded to. We think of fascia as the connective tissue, and we almost dismiss it, but it’s a little bit like a throwaway organ. Like, “Oh, you don’t really need your gallbladder, oh, you don’t really need your appendix. Oh, the fascia.” It’s just the connective tissue. It’s so much more than that.


[00:30:15] It communicates. It’s really intertwined with the lymph and the vagus nerve. It’s your whole regulatory system. And what happens is we brace for impact. I remember when my son was two, and we’d go on the vacation by the pool, I was like, “Waddling, don’t drown, don’t die.” You’re constantly on guard, like, “Oh, that might fall, this is going on, and you never kind of relax and recover.” So, for anyone that cheats in yoga, like, they do heart opening, but they don’t really do heart opening, [Cynthia laughs] or they do pigeon, but they don’t really do it, it’s because the fascia is really tight. 


[00:30:49] And so this is actually the reason I created the rollerball, because I realized I needed to put the fascia behind my heart, which is a whole other interesting story for women who are pleasers, who over give, who can’t receive. The back of the heart is where you receive. So, opening the back of the heart, it allows you to actually open. In heart opening, the hips are also where we carry a lot of our emotions. When you’re ready to unpack anger, start at the hips, but just applying fascia and what you’re talking about with your scar release, that’s really going to– it’s almost like it traps, the issues are in the tissues, the whole [00:31:26 [unintelligible] The Body Keeps the Score. All of these things are the fascia and the memory and the things that we’re carrying with us. If we think about carrying a backpack and putting everything that we don’t want to process in our backpack as we get through life. Yeah, by the time you hit your 40s or your 50s there’s a lot there, you’re carrying a lot of extra weight, that if you can just start processing and releasing, life gets a lot easier. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:31:48] Yeah. I think it’s such an important point. And this is certainly one area that I’m personally working on, because I had multiple unplanned surgeries. I have two very healthy children. So let me be clear. I had two breech kids and that was the only way that they were going to come out because there was no turning them. And then I had this urgent appendectomy. And it’s only now occurred to me, even though I’m a healthcare professional, that we can actually hold memories and trauma in these tissues, especially because I’ve had multiple abdominal surgeries. And it’s interesting, when I was doing reading in preparation for this, that a scar can lead to an adhesion of sympathetic nervous system fibers. So, remember at the very beginning of our conversation, we were talking about being sympathetic dominant, this fight or flight, and the scar can then represent this tangling of not just feelings, but energetically can actually represent quite a bit more than that. Have you found for your clients and people that you’re working with, that the utilization of not just the essential oils, but working on the fascia can be very therapeutic, not just physically, but also emotionally, 


Jodi Cohen: [00:32:59] 100%. I mean, it’s funny, like when I started 12 years ago, I was screaming vagus nerve into the wind and no one had heard of it. I’ve been screaming fascia for about four years now, and people are finally starting to catch up. I think the fascia is everything. I think emotional detox is everything, especially as women, we’re taught to be good girls, to be nice, to be polite. What that basically means is if we ever feel sad, like, what’s the line from Elsa, “Conceal, don’t feel like.” “Just put a smile on, just go out.” If we’re angry, we’re not allowed to feel it. So, what do we do? We stuff all these feelings, and then we don’t even know how to unpack them because they’re so unpleasant. We don’t want to feel our grief. We don’t want to feel our anger. And this is where I think oils are kind of magical, looping back to the beginning of our conversation where we’re talking about the limbic system, the emotional brain, and how do you release things? 


[00:33:47] I think you can use oils in a very small– If you think about opening a soda bottle you don’t want it to explode. So, you gently let out the gas, let out the steam so that it’s manageable. I think there’s a way to unpack emotions in the same way. We have a liver support blend that I actually call the PMS blend. [Cynthia chuckles] Like, for anyone at that time monthly, you almost are like, “All right, how do I get to let out this hostility today? Am I going to go on a long run, or is someone going to cut me off in traffic and I’m just going to let it all ripped?” There’s a nicer way to do it. Like, you can inhale and actually use the exhale to gently breathe out the emotion so that it’s not as intense. It’s almost like an emotional car wash, you get to release it without having to relive it. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:34:32] Well, and I love that these are things that people can access from home, that they’re relatively easy and straightforward. Couple questions came in, I think, talking about sleep because most, if not all, perimenopausal, menopausal women to some degree, either problems staying asleep or falling asleep, talking about the role of not just melatonin and other hormones, but how we can support our pineal gland, the circadian rhythm of the body with essential oils, in a way that’s, again, very supportive. You use the term adjunctive and I think that’s a really great way to say, this in addition to other things you’re doing can be very beneficial.


Jodi Cohen: [00:35:09] No, I completely agree. So with sleep it’s so fascinating because there are different sleep problems. Like, being unable to fall asleep is different than night waking at 01:00 AM is different than night waking at 03:00 AM with maybe a hot flash. So, I think if you actually want to solve the problem, you have to understand what’s going on for each specific problem. So, people who struggle to fall asleep. They’re exhausted, but their mind is racing. They’re worried about their day tomorrow, maybe they’re worried about a relationship or what’s going on in the world. Melatonin is your sleep hormone. And it works in tandem with cortisol, your stress hormone, because if the lion’s chasing you, you probably don’t want to fall asleep. [Cynthia laughs] So think of it, it’s like a teeter-totter. 


[00:35:54] If cortisol is high, that forces melatonin low. If you can increase melatonin or calm cortisol, that puts it into balance. So, melatonin is released by the pineal gland in response to darkness. It’s right in the middle of the brain behind the eyes like kind of helps regulate it. So in addition to, I know you have great tools for, like, nighttime protocols, but what we’ve been recommending is this oil helps to trigger the pineal gland to naturally release melatonin. So, you want to put it kind of right around the middle of the brain. So, the very top of the head, not on the ears, but on the skin above the ears. That’s a really good access point for the pineal gland, back of the head. I don’t tell people to put oil on their face before they sleep because if they’re a topsy, turvy sleeper, I don’t want it to get in their eyes. But that’s a great one to help enhance more melatonin, which is also really good for detoxifying the brain and calm the cortisol.


[00:36:48] Now, if you’re waking up at 01:00 AM and you’re so awake, you could clean the kitchen. That’s a blood sugar wake up, not uncommon in perimenopause and menopause. And that, you know, obviously you can eat something fatty before you go to bed to regulate your blood sugar. But what happens when your blood sugar gets released? It’s in your blood, you’re adrenalized, you’re awake. So how do you get the blood sugar out of your blood? Your pancreas releases insulin, which carries it into your cells. So, anything you can do to support your pancreas. We have a pancreas blend that has rose geranium that’s also great for hormonal things. It really helps with hot flashes just smelling it. I used to keep it on my nightstand table and just put it over my pancreas when I’d wake up, and it helped me fall back asleep more naturally. 


[00:37:31] If you’re waking up around 03:00 AM and maybe you have to use the bathroom, that tends to be, in Chinese medicine every organ has a time. 03:00 AM is like liver time. And that’s usually either toxic overload or as we get older the hormones go out of balance, so we might have estrogen dominance and too many hormones. So, the liver has some extra work and just needs to work a little harder. So before bed, I would put on our liver blend. Sometimes the gallbladder blend, because they work in tandem. Sometimes I’d couple them with castor oil or if I woke up, I would just kind of smell the liver blend and that would help me fall back asleep. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:38:06] How interesting, how we need to support our bodies. And I think the one thing that I’ve oftentimes been surprised by is a lot of women just accept that poor sleep becomes their norm. And I met a woman who’s actually a nurse, and she’s in her late 60s, and she said, “I haven’t had a good night of sleep in 15 years.” And she has a slew of challenges related to the poor sleep. She’s got metabolic syndrome, she’s got insulin resistance. She could not be smart or more lovely. And it’s interesting how in many instances, we accept our circumstances instead of advocating for ourselves. You were talking about that. I’m a reformed people pleaser. I’m sure you are as well. It really can be challenging to have to think about how to navigate the second stage of our lives and really speaking up for ourselves and identifying, like, one night of poor sleep a week is probably not a big deal. But if it’s every night sequentially, and we’re just dealing with daylight savings, and, I mean, nearly everyone on social media is talking about how their sleep has gone south and, like, it’ll calm down, it will calm down. But maybe utilizing some of these recommendations.


[00:39:14] Another hot topic is weight loss resistance, huge issue for my community as well. Is there any research on the utilization of essential oils to help support our bodies when we’re weight loss resistant? I know this is kind of unpacking. It’s not just one reason, but is the research to suggest that essential oils have a role in supporting our bodies with this? 


Jodi Cohen: [00:39:37] Yes, and it wasn’t really targeted to the menopausal population. So, there is a lot of research, like, peppermint helps with satiety, and we have a blood sugar balance blend that you can kind of put on the inside of your cheek that helps with cravings. But we both know it’s bigger than that. It’s really about the hormones. It’s really about the cortisol and the insulin and the blood sugar hormones. So, we do have a blood sugar support kit, which is adrenal, pancreas, and liver. But I agree with you, we need to make different food choices. We need to change our exercise routine. This is where it’s not one magic bullet. It’s not like, “Oh, you’re going to [unintelligible 00:40:15] grapefruit and all of a sudden, it’s like, Ozempic.” No, it’s a little bit more complicated. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:40:18] Yeah. And it’s interesting because I think that on a lot of levels, like, as an example, I have a free group on Facebook, which hopefully most the listeners are part of. It’s called Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle/Cynthiathurlow. And the question that comes up often is, “I’ve done these two things. I haven’t lost weight. What does that mean?” And unfortunately, what I say to everyone is the term multifactorial. There’s probably multiple reasons why you’re weight loss resistant. There’s probably multiple reasons why your sleep has gone south. And so, it’s like peeling an onion, one layer at a time, figuring out what’s the next thing I can do to support my health, I think is certainly good advice. And for anyone that’s listening, that’s frustrated, understanding that you may have to try three or four more things. 


[00:40:58] And I do find that we start with food because once we can get your blood sugar regulated, once we can get you satiated more often than not, that in and of itself helps tremendously. And I think for a lot of people, that helps with the sleep, that helps with getting the scale to budge a bit, and you get those small wins, and then women are like, “Okay, I’m committed to figuring this out.” Lastly, lots of questions about what are some of the oils that can be stimulating? Like, if I’m feeling tired again, it’s a couple days into daylight savings. I think most people are feeling, like, not 100% energetically, but if we’re looking for things that are going to turn our brain on, make us more alert, make us feel like we have a little bit more energy. What would be your recommendations? 


Jodi Cohen: [00:41:40] I really delve into the research on that. There’s great research on that. Rosemary and peppermint are the ones that people really like. We have a focus blend that I sometimes put on my temples or I’m a morning person, I get up at like 06:00 and I swear to God by 10:00 at night I’m exhausted. And when my teenagers were still living with me, it feels like I was always night driving. So, I also have a circulation blend that I just love to smell. It’s got black pepper, which is very vasodilating, so it increases blood flow to the brain. Or I put it on the back of the neck. That woke me up. The other oil that we have, that’s called the adrenal and you put it on the low back on the adrenals. That’s incredibly helpful. That’s actually been my favorite one in perimenopause and menopause. Like I’ve definitely been able– the hot flashes were not an issue, the mood swings were not an issue. The menopausal [unintelligible 00:42:27] I’m still figuring out because I don’t think oils are the magic bullet for that. I think its multifactorial, something inflammatory. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:42:33] Yeah, and it’s interesting because I think that each one of us has our own little journey of figuring out what are the things that are contributing to weight loss resistant as one example. And I jokingly say I had done all the things and it wasn’t until for me personally, I removed dairy from my diet and I wasn’t even consuming much. But we even tried to reintroduce it after five years and I broke out in hives, my nose got congested. I had all these abdominal cramping and I was like, “Okay, dairy really doesn’t agree with me. This isn’t just a presumptive, this is a definitive.” But for each one of us, it might be something that we’re doing that we think it’s being fairly benign or innocuous that could be contributing. And you mentioned dealing with stress, not getting enough sleep. I think for so many of us, we just don’t acknowledge or realize that chronic stress really can erode our health and in nonbeneficial ways. Well, I’ve so enjoyed this conversation. I would love for you to share with listeners how they can connect with you on social media, learn more about your book and your work, and obtain your essential oils. 


Jodi Cohen: [00:43:35] Yeah, you can head over to vibrantblueoils.com and use the coupon code WELCOME10 for $10 off anything. The book is, Essential Oils to Boost the Brain and Heal the Body. And it’s available where all books are sold and then on social media. It’s just vibrantblueoils on Instagram, Facebook. I don’t really do Twitter. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:43:55] Twitter is an interesting place. I tell people all the time, you have to have a pretty thick skin because things move quickly and people can be snarky, just like they can everywhere else on social media, but even more so there. Thank you again, my friend. 


Jodi Cohen: [00:44:08] Thank you. 


Cynthia Thurlow: [00:44:09] If you love this podcast episode, please leave a rating and review, subscribe and tell a friend.