How Essential Oils Helped Me Cope With My Traumatic Brain Injury

A little over 15 months ago the unexpected happened.

I took a fall on a patch of ice, landing on the back of my skull. At the time, I never in a million years expected to still be struggling with the effects of my injuries 15 months later. I was dazed and confused for weeks before I came to realize that I had suffered more than “just a concussion”. I had suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) and was only just beginning to see all of it’s ugly faces.

Right before my accident I had started using essential oils, and I have to say that having these oils on hand was the biggest blessing I could have asked for. They helped me cope with my traumatic brain injury, along with the physical injuries I sustained (whiplash, torn muscles, stretched ligaments, and a dislocated sternum and ribcage).

What I am about to share with you is my own personal experience with essential oils. Not everyone will have the exact same results, and not all oils are created equally.

The oils sold at health food stores and co-ops are NOT 100% therapeutic grade oils, meaning that you really don’t know what else has been added to them. They may state on the label that they indeed are therapeutic grade or 100% pure, because there is zero regulation on essential oils. But if you look closely, the label will say things like “external use only” and “dilute properly”. These are red flags that the oil inside that bottle are not 100%, they have likely been cut with other oils or chemicals (never, EVER ingest an oil if you unsure whether it is 100% therapeutic grade)

You will notice that with many of the oils I use a cool mist diffuser and I highly recommend having a cool mist diffuser. I diffuse my oils EVERY SINGLE night when I go to bed.

I have found that my skin allows me to put most oils directly onto, however, it is recommended that you use a carrier oil such as coconut, almond, or even vegetable oil if you have nothing else. One drop of oil and one drop of carrier oil and you’re set to go.

Below is a list of my symptoms, and the oils that I used to treat them.

Brain fog: I diffuse a few drops of cedar wood at night while I sleep. If I am traveling, I will put a few drops on the back of my neck and wrists. I notice a huge difference in clarity when I wake up after a night diffusing cedar wood.

Muscle pain: I use an all natural pain relieving gel called Arnica (you can find this at most health food stores or coops) and rub it into my sore spots with a few drops of peppermint. I also made a roller ball of each of these to roll directly onto the spot when I’m on-the-go.

Headaches: I have found peppermint to really minimize my headaches. I apply a few drops to the base of my neck, temples, or scalp, whatever is hurting me at the moment. I have made a roller ball of peppermint as well for easy application. I ALWAYS have peppermint with me: in my purse, in my suitcase, in my laptop case, everywhere. This is my #1 go-to oil for so many things. I literally never leave home without it.

Ligaments: I stretched a few ligaments in my neck, and they are especially challenging to recover. I have found Lemongrass to be very helpful in encouraging them back to their original plasticity. This use it in combination with peppermint and Arnica when applying to my neck in the morning and evening.

Sleep: I diffuse vertiver at bedtime, and will combine with cedar wood if I am foggy. If I am traveling, I will put it directly on my wrists and the front of my throat. It has a warm, smokey smell and puts me right to sleep. (note: I also take Melatonin supplements to aid in sleep.)

Immune support: I put one drop of lemon in my glass water bottle every day, and haven’t had even a sniffle in over a year. I also use an immune support blend for extra support when going out to crowded places or when I know I will be around small children. For an immune support blend, I will put a drop on the bottom of my foot after a hot bath or shower, and I will also rub a drop inside my nose (note: this will sting the first few times you do it.). I make sure I am rubbing it into the membranes and NOT snorting it up my nose.

Relaxation: Whenever I take a bath (which is about 3 times a week) I add 3 drops of lavender to my water. It not only is relaxing, it also softens your skin, smells great, and keeps you from drying out in the winter months. (note: your tub can be slippery when using oils so be careful getting in and out. Also, don’t bother with bubble bath because the oils will keep it from sudsing). I will also use a drop with a quarter size amount of coconut oil (purchase at any grocery store) and rub into my skin. This leaves your skin so soft and radiant, and will smell divine. If you are sore, I also suggest adding Epsom salts to your bath, they help draw out the toxins from your muscles. I noticed a LOT of relief when doing this.

Neck and sternum: I had a dislocated sternum, and my C4 was pushed into C5. For this I used balance, which is commonly referred to as “chiropractor in a bottle”. I apply a drop or two in each area, and I apply on my neck before applying my lemongrass and peppermint mixture.

Mood: I will inhale lemon, or orange; or diffuse them. I have found diffusing lemon really lifts my mood almost immediately if I am feeling “blah”.

Dizzy and balance: I put a drop of ginger behind each ear. I will also take a sniff of it as I am applying for a more immediate result.

Acid reflux: I use a drop of peppermint and rub into the area from my stomach up through my esophagus. I notice relief almost immediately.

Fatigue: I have found smelling peppermint (or diffusing it) will give me a pick-me-up if I am feeling fatigued. Also, a small drop on my tongue can help me perk up as well (Plus you get the added fresh breath bonus). You can also rub a drop on your chest or neck for a longer lasting effect.


Editor’s Note: Amy Zellmer has a Kickstarter Campaign for her non-fiction book on life with a Traumatic Brain Injury. Please go and help fund the creation of this book!

Amy Zellmer

Amy is an author, professional photographer and creative business coach located in Saint Paul, MN. She is also a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post & a TBI survivor. She recently published her first book: "Life With a Traumatic Brain Injury: Finding the Road Back to Normal".

She has an obsession with Starbucks coffee, Miss Me jeans, and all things glittery and sparkly. She enjoys traveling the country with her eight pound Yorkie named Pixxie, and instagrams her journeys.