The Power of Human Touch

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How many of you can recall when you would hurt yourself when you were young?  Perhaps falling while playing or taking a spill off your bike?  For some, although the hurt caused a tear or two to fall, the best thing about it was when our favorite loved adult would “kiss it to make it better”.  Often, we wouldn’t even need a Band-Aid or a visit to the doctor like we so desperately claimed.  What was wanted was that squeeze after the Band-Aid, that high-five after the tears, even simply sitting next to our loved one and feeling them there - that touch from that other person with whom we were close and loved held and carried a healing power. 

Children who are struggling with attachment disorders, people who have been victims of sexual assault or rape, and similarly, folks who battle with various levels of anxiety can benefit from the healing power of touch.  It is often assumed that it is babies who primarily benefit from touch and mainly from their mothers (or primary caregivers).  And, while this still holds truth, there are so many other opportunities that can provide healing.  Just a few examples are pain reduction, creating safer spaces, improve relationships between not just couples but also other dyads (siblings, parent/child, etc.).  Research has even shown that when a child is struggling in school, a small, simple touch on their shoulder from their teacher can provide just the right amount of encouragement to allow the child to begin to soar in their studies. 

Here are 4 simple reasons to consider the powerful, healing properties of the human touch:

1: Touch releases a chemical in our brains called oxytocin.  This chemical is like the cuddle switch.  When touch is wanted or desired, oxytocin is released.  Just 20 seconds of affectionate touching is enough to reduce our stress hormone and increase our cuddle hormone.  This can manifest safer spaces and increase trust, as well. 

2: When stress levels due to trauma or anxiety are at an all time high, our ability to experience what may seem to be compassion is muddled; especially when it is brought to us through only the spoken word.  It may seem silly but when words fail, touch may be the answer.  Touch can trigger our vagus nerve (the nerve that runs from the brain to the belly, passing the heart along the way), thus allowing us to be receptive to and to respond with compassion.

3: Not only can touch allow us to feel compassion, it also reduces stress.  Our stress hormone, cortisone, increases when we experience anxiety, trauma, stress from taking a test, falling off our bikes, etc.  A touch, even one that happens by accident, can reduce that stress hormone and lower blood pressure.  This means a happier heart.  Image the anxiety beginning to creep in because of a memory that has begun to invade your thoughts.  You are walking around work or school and can’t seem to calm it down.  Someone needs to walk past you and, gently, presses their hand on your arm to excuse themselves around you.  That one slight touch is just enough to not only distract you from your thoughts but also to decrease that cortisone that is about to sky high.

4: Touching between couples can increase trust, promote communication, and can improve relationship satisfaction.  Even the simple act of holding hands while watching a movie or hugging for just 20 seconds before leaving for work can begin to create that bond between couples.  This bond can be the foundation in which trust is rebuilt, safety is re-established, and communication is opened.

Everyone has a built in need to be touched, and yes, from birth.  However, it does not end once we reach a specific age.  It is a life-long desire for touch.  When it is practiced appropriately and respectfully, the human touch can be powerful healing aspect of the human experience.


By Léah Almilli

Is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist. She works with children as young as 6 and adults as old as 88. She is fluent in American Sign Language and she teaches ASL at the local community college. Léah like to help people grow and feel better about themselves. Léah offers a holistic, client-centered approach to the process, allowing each person the opportunities to discover how their pasts can lead into their futures. Léah makes her therapy rooms warm, welcoming, non-judgmental, and compassionate to ensure that the clients can feel safe to explore what is needed.

Having a ‘Scent’sual Valentine’s Day with Essential Oils!!

 

In addition to being a mental health therapist, I am also a Wellness Advocate for dōTERRA Essential Oils. Some of the blends that are mentioned in this article refer to oil blends that are produced by dōTERRA.

Essential oils have been used for millennia to enhance sensual pleasure. They are well known for improving sensuality and libido. Today, essential oils are used in perfumes and colognes to enhance sexual attraction. Oils can be used in a variety of ways to heighten one’s libido. Essential oils can be applied directly to the skin when combined with a carrier oil. They can be used as a lubricant, for a nice, relaxing massage, or used in an essential oil diffuser to inhale the scent of the oils to “set the mood” before intimacy. A diffuser is a device that is used to disperse the essential oil molecules into the air. Most diffusers are relatively inexpensive to purchase and can be found at many retailers.

When oils are applied to sensitive areas of the skin, they should be diluted with carrier oils (such as Almond Oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Shea Butter or Grape Seed Oil). When you apply essential oils to the skin, never touch the nose, eyes, ears, or mouth with the essential oil blend. Mucus membranes are very sensitive to direct contact from essential oils. If you accidentally get essential oils in your eye, you can use Fractionated Coconut Oil to dilute the essential oil.

When choosing essential oils that will be used topically, please be certain that the brand you choose is free from fillers or contaminants that can be harmful. Many brands that state that they are “pure” or “therapeutic” add fillers or synthetic materials to make their products less expensive. It is very important to know whether the oils you are using are of the highest grade and quality.

If you have sensitive skin, care should be taken when applying a new essential oil or oil blend. It is always advisable to perform a skin patch test on the inside of the forearm before using a new essential oil in the bedroom. Dilute the oil, apply to the forearm, and wait a day to see if there are any allergic reactions. (We don’t want any skin reactions on Valentine’s Day, right?!) Remember that essential oils are concentrated, so you only need a small amount to have a big impact.

Essential oils can be used topically to enhance the sexual experience. You can apply a couple of drops directly to the abdomen, the back of the neck, or when diluted with carrier oils, they can be used as a lubricant.

When using essential oils on sensitive areas, be sure you use a carrier oil to dilute the essential oils so that you avoid skin irritation. Some essential oils, such as Cinnamon or Peppermint can be more of a skin irritant when undiluted than others. When diluting an essential oil, try using 7 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of your carrier oil of choice, or 1-2 drops per tablespoon of carrier oil.

Essential oils can help with libido in several ways. They can be used to enhance sensation, improve mindset, reduce anxiety, and change body temperature. For example, Cinnamon, Clove, and some citrus oils, such as Bergamot or Wild Orange, create a warming sensation. Peppermint creates a cooling sensation. Rose helps to reduce anxious feelings and has traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac. For females, if libido is low because of hormonal changes, Clary Sage is often found to be helpful. Researchers have found that the “inhalation of Neroli oil helps relieve menopausal symptoms, increase sexual desire, and reduce blood pressure in postmenopausal women,” (Choi, SY, Kang, P., Lee, HS, & Seol, GH, 2014). 

Ylang Ylang is often used as an aphrodisiac for both men and women, and nearly everyone enjoys its soft, floral scent. Geranium is known for increasing circulation by enlarging capillaries. It is also excellent for reducing anxious feelings. Women often respond positively to using Citrus Oils such as Bergamot or a dōTERRA blend called Citrus Bliss to enhance pleasure. Men often find the warmth of cinnamon oil pleasurable. These essential oils can be used topically to create a warming sensation.

For many people, the everyday stressors of life can reduce libido. Essential oils can be used to assist with relaxation and to improve emotional well-being. The following libido boosting blend can be diffused, or diluted for topical application. Blend the following oils with the carrier oil of your choice to create a sensual massage blend or a natural lubricant.

  • 2 drops of Neroli (or Wild Orange)
  • 2 drops Jasmine
  • 2 drops Ylang Ylang

Feeling down or overwhelmed is another factor that can inhibit sexual desire. There are many essential oils that assist with mood. Frankincense and Wild Orange oils are great for lifting the mood so that libido can be sparked.

The following essential oils are known to be natural Aphrodisiacs. Make your own aphrodisiac blend with the scents that you like.

  •  Neroli
  •  Rose
  •  Ylang Ylang
  •  Geranium
  •  Clary Sage
  •  Rose
  •  Jasmine
  •  Bergamot
  •  Sandalwood
  •  Patchouli
  • Geranium
  •  Cinnamon
  •  Wild Orange
  • Clove
  •  Passion Emotional Blend (a dōTERRA blend) contains Fractionated Coconut Oil, Cardamom Seed, Cinnamon Bark, Ginger Rhizome, Clove Bud, Sandalwood, Jasmine, Vanilla Bean, and Damiana Leaf.

Damiana leaves have been used by indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America to boost sexual potency and as an aphrodisiac. Mayans, as well as other Central American people groups, used the Damiana herb to help improve female and male sexual dysfunction, decrease depression, and help with impotence problems.

Create your own blends. For a fun Valentine’s Day gift, you can try some of these suggestions.

 

Women’s Aphrodisiac Blend

  •   6 drops Ylang Ylang
  •  6 drops Neroli
  •  3 drops Rose
  •  3 drops Sandalwood
  •  1 oz. Fractionated Coconut Oil

Men’s Aphrodisiac Blend

  •  5 drops Ginger
  •  5 drops Ylang Ylang
  •  5 drops Black Pepper
  •  5 drops Helichrysum
  •  1 oz. Fractionated Coconut Oil

 Luscious Lubricant

  •   5 oz. African Shea Butter
  •  5 oz. Coconut Oil
  •  30 drops Peppermint
  •  30 drops Bergamot
  •  25 drops Cinnamon
  •  15 drops Lavender
  •  15 drops Helichrysum

Body Massage Butter

  •  ½ cup Coconut Oil
  •  ½ cup Unrefined Organic Shea Butter
  •  20 drops Ylang Ylang
  •  20 drops Geranium
  •  60 drops Bergamot
  •  40 drops Peppermint
  •  20 drops Clove

Please note: This post does not provide medical or counseling advice. If you’re experiencing significant problems related to sexuality, please talk with a physician or professional therapist. Sexual problems often stem from intimacy, attachment and other relationship issues that are best addressed with a comprehensive approach.

Lisa Tobler, LMFT sees a variety of individuals and couples in our Riverside Office. She helps people overcome intimacy and communication difficulties. You can get in touch with Lisa at 951-778-0230