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Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Treasure Hunt (Whats the big deal with Essential Oils?)
This may sound like an odd title for a blog post about essential oils, but I feel like my journey towards learning about them has been like a treasure hunt. Essential oils was something I had never heard of until a few months ago. Many people I am mentioning the oils to seem to have not heard of them either. I've had a few people wanting to know more about them. It has been hard to answer quickly, so I thought I should write up a response that might help answer questions more thoroughly.
First of all I'd like to share just a little bit of my story and why I am interested in essential oils. I've always tried to be healthy and look for healthy options, but four years ago I really started down a path of investigating and learning more about organic natural products and methods. At that time my sister was diagnosed with a very serious illness, and I had my first baby. Maybe it is because these two major life events were happening during the same season or maybe each one had their unique place in pushing me towards this search, but I started reading and learning and I've come a long way. I started with a company called Norwex replacing all of my chemical cleaners with microfiber cloths and citrus based scrubs. The next step took quite a bit longer and truthfully we are still working on it, but I have researched ways to help my family scale down the processed and additive rich food that we once ate so often. When I look back at where I've been heading essential oils just looks like the next step in this journey. I was invited by a friend to a class about essential oils without even knowing what they were. I came home that night and told my husband either I have just been completely scammed or I just found something amazing. One could even say a treasure.
So what are essential oils? Here is my definition: they are basically the oil inside a plant that allows the plant to heal itself. Connie and Alan Higley have a bit more of a scientific description, " Essential oils are the volatile liquids that are distilled from plants." They go on to list what benefits PURE THERAPEUTIC-GRADE essential oils can give. Here are just a few: oxygenating, immune-strengthening, quickly penetrate skin, lipid soluble and can penetrate cell walls, stimulate immune system, antioxidants, antibacterial, anti-cancerous, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, antiviral, detoxify, can pass the blood-brain barrier (which the more I learn about this in particular is a big deal)....the list goes on and on. I guess without quoting the entire book or research I've done, they are powerful healing agents. They are natural and so lack the side effects of man made drugs. Imagine something that you can't overdose on, has no side effects, and could treat multiple illnesses with the same product. As a mother, something that is safe for all ages and can be used until symptoms end, instead of just one dose ever six hours whether or not the symptoms cease, is wonderful. I finally have something to give my two year old when she is coughing so much she can't sleep, since regular cough medicine isn't allowed for children under 4. I thought that sounded pretty good a few months ago when I was told all of this, and I decided to give it a try. We have used it for colds, coughs, fevers, stomach bugs, insect bites, headaches, ear infections, burns, and more. So far we have been able to pretty much stay to just using the oils and haven't needed to reach for that medicine cabinet. Whats more they have worked so well I haven't really even been wanting to use medication. After using these oils with my family and hearing personal testimonies of my close friends I am a believer and starting to tell everyone I meet.
So why doesn't everyone know about these? Why are there such varying opinions? If they work so well why doesn't my doctor tell me about them? Well, I've been wondering the same things. I've spoken with my doctor and talked to friends who I know are interested in more natural options and have been left with the question, why do I feel like I am revealing a secret they didn't know about? Well, there are a few reasons that I've found why essential oils are not as common place as maybe they could be.
First of all not all oils are equal. So someone trying to use lavender oil off the store shelf will have different results than myself using a Young Living essential oil.( Young Living is the company we have chosen to buy our essential oils from) I am speaking of essential oils that are pure, therapeutic-grade oils. Essential oils are not regulated by the FDA meaning that companies do not have to put all the ingredients on their labels. For instance the word Fragrance could mean up to 600 different chemicals. They also don't have to list all the ingredients they use to extract the oils. So, unless you are dealing with a company that produces its oils for medicinal use and has a good reputation, you may just be trying to help a headache with a bottle of perfume and therefore right it off as something that just doesn't work or even might have made things worse.
Secondly, unlike man made medicine that is crafted for a specific reason and so fulfills its specific function, essential oils being a natural remedy effect every body chemistry differently. So although Advil is taken as a pain reliever and so marketed as one, each oil has multiple properties and will effect each unique person according to their body chemistry. So one person may need to use lavender when another person needs lemon for the same effect. Now there are specific groups of oils recommended for certain aliments, but most of the time 5-6 are recommended to try not just one. They also are not a one stop or one gulp wonder. You need to use the oils consistently until the symptoms are relieved. This may sound tedious, but I would much rather apply an oil to my neck every ten minutes and relieve a migraine completely and naturally than take the drugs that can be so damaging to my system. Because they are not fully understood or the methods of using them are not fully understood I think they are often written off as not effective.
Finally, although research is being done and has been done essential oils tend to have challenges that go along with researching them. For instance aromatic substances have a hard time using placebo groups for research, and since each oil has numerous constituents( for example, lavender has over 300) it can be hard to nail down which one or balance of ones had the healing effect for a specific aliment. This just helps prevent them from taking more of a center stage in the medical world.
The more I hear about essential oils, the more I use them, and the more I see them work, the more excited I am to share them. My two older girls play pirate all the time and love the idea of finding a treasure or uncovering a surprise. Maybe its a silly analogy, but I feel like this has been my own little treasure hunt with my own little prize! Hopefully, this has answered a bit more clearly just what essential oils are and why my family and I are so excited to use them. We have chosen to buy our oils from a company called Young Living. If you would like to hear more about why we have chosen that company or have any more questions about the oils please comment or message me. I am always excited to talk about them!
Of course I'm not a doctor, or an oil expert, just an informed mom that loves my oils and loves sharing about them. Please understand that my sharing is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure. I'm just simple sharing what has worked for my family and what I am excited about!