There's nothing new or trendy about essential oils. They've been mixed, infused, and extracted for millennia by healers, herbalists, and doctors to create natural remedies. Their uses are numerous and it's worth your time to learn a little about them. And don't worry, this page isn't intended to sell you oils, it's meant to sell you on oils because, quite frankly, they're amazing.
I consider essential oils a "gateway" to a healthier lifestyle. We all need to clean our homes, we occasionally feel sick or tired, we like healthy hair and skin, many are searching for optimal health, and we all like to smell good....at least I would think so. We can use high quality essential oils for many household, personal, and healthcare products. You won't find long lists of adverse affects like those on synthetically made products and medications. On top of that, I save money using oils. My former, fabulous, locally made face serum cost $60 per oz. Now I make my own for around $7 with higher quality ingredients...and on top of that, I like it even more. It's a no brainer.
What are they??
Essential oils are the natural aromatic, volatile compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. In short, they exist on plants to help them adapt to their internal and external environment in order to thrive. They have similar benefits for humans as well. Some of their functions on plants include protection from predators, attracting pollinators, and anti-bacterial / anti-fungal protection. When used properly (see "Using oils" below!), they are safe because the body understands them as natural substances rather than synthetics, which the body will try to reject (hence the side affects). In a similar way, these natural compounds have multiple uses as opposed to synthetics which typically have very few.
Some people think essential oils are hocus pocus, but if they took the time to check into the scientific research available, they might feel differently. Thousands of studies exhibit the benefits of using oils for the body's benefit including: decreasing inflammation (inflammation is recognized by many as the big precursor to chronic disease); dealing with pain, stress, anxiety, depression; using them for antimicrobial purposes and wound healing.....the list goes on and on. A couple of resources here, here, and here to get you started. More available in references below.
Here's a quick list of a few specific oils that I use often, and some of their beneficial properties, to get you excited:
Frankincense - a precious ancient oil and highly versatile: anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, pain relieving, immune building, cellular health, scars and stretch marks. Lavender - the "go-to" oil when you're not sure what to use...it's good for so many things: anxiety, depression, skin, muscle tension, wounds, and cleaning supplies. Ylang Ylang - One of my personal favorites: hormone balance - wonderful support during menopause and reduces cortisol levels; decreases high blood pressure; the scent is amazing so it's often used by itself as perfume, and it's great for healthy skin and hair. Basil - sore muscles and joints, ear infections, clear breathing, and cooling agent for the skin. Vetiver - muscle relaxation, grounding for emotions, immune enhancing, and circulation.
The brand MATTERS
The conversation on essential oils is irrelevant if you're not talking about high quality oils. There are few great companies out there creating the purest of oils and doing so in a sustainable way. Some include dōTERRA, Young Living, Mountain Rose, and Floracopeaia. I encourage you to look around if you're considering using essential oils. The most important thing to look for is that they are 100% pure. The majority of companies (especially those sold in stores) are cut with other ingredients which means that they could be less effective, or even ineffective and worse, harmful. The FDA allows store brands to label 100% pure when it's possible they're only 10% pure. You must inquire deeper into the brand to know for sure. Personally, I use dōTERRA. Visit my Get Started page to get your own oils at wholesale and find out why I "do" dōTERRA.
Safety and proper use is key! Once distilled from the plant, essential oils can be used in 3 ways: aromatically, topically, or internally. Not all oils can be used in the same way. For example, some can be applied directly to skin or taken internally under the tongue while others must be heavily diluted and/or not taken internally at all. It is important to know how to use each oil properly in order to ensure safety.
It took me a long time to buy into aromatherapy. Research on oil ingestion into the blood stream through the lungs, and experience (with myself, clients, friends, and family) have shown that I was missing out for a long time. Our sense of smell influences many physiological pathways (especially in the brain) including the stimulation of hormones and other metabolic processes. Certain essential oils, when diffused in the air, can be very stimulating, while others can be calming and soothing. Beyond emotional benefits, diffusing essential oils can purify air of unwanted odors and some airborne pathogens.
Essential oils will not cure you of chronic disease. Essential oils are a powerful supplement to a clean diet and a healthy lifestyle. I cannot emphasize this enough. Using them in cases of difficult times (stress, seasonal illnesses, hormone whackiness, you name it) can encourage better overall health and well being. There is no such thing as a magic pill. We all have to take control of our own lives, our own health, and I believe essential oils are a wonderful way for anyone to begin, or continue that journey.
An orally administered lavandula oil preparation (Silexan) for anxiety disorder and related conditions: an evidence based review. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Kasper, S. Retrieved from: http://www.complementarytherapiesinmedicine.com/article/S0965-2299(13)00193-3/abstract; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23808618
Stewart, D, Dr. 2005. The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple: God’s Love Manifest in Molecules.
Lavender oil preparation Silexan is effective in generalized anxiety disorder – a randomized, double-blind comparison to placebo and paroxetine. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2014. Retrieved from: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract fromPage=online&aid=9248299&fileId=S1461145714000017
Multiple studies & authors. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=myrrh
Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. American Academy of Family Physicians Journal. 2005. Retrieved from: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1215/p2501.html
Potential of essential oils for protection of grains contaminated by aflatoxin produced by Aspergillus flavus. 2014. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Esper, RH. Gonçalez, E. Marques, MO. Felicio, RC. Felicio, JD. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24926289
Multiple studies & authors. Retrieved from: http://vsearch.nlm.nih.gov/vivisimo/cgi-bin/query-meta?query=essential+oil&v%3Aproject=nlm-main-website
Multiple studies & authors. National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. Retrieved from: http://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/research/
What are essential oils? National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. Retrieved from: http://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/about-aromatherapy/what-are-essential-oils/