Essential Oils and Why You Should Use Them
Have you ever held a sprig of rosemary or basil while you were cooking, and then smelled the delicious and fragrant smell your hands for hours afterwards? How about after peeling an orange? What’s leftover on your hands is essential oil, which are powerful compounds held within plants, flowers, fruits and trees and is nature’s medicine to improve our health and wellness.
Some people have heard of them, some people haven’t and even other people dismiss them as if they are just a fad or perhaps something only hippies use. The truth is that essential oils have been used for therapeutic and medicinal healing purposes for thousands of years or more. In a time where we are all becoming so much more mindful of what we put into our bodies as food and sustenance, essential oils are the other side of the coin on how we can treat illnesses naturally, cut excess chemicals from our bodies, use greener cleaning and beauty products, and more.
So why should you consider using them? The amazing thing about essential oils isn’t just how easy they are to use, but in the versatility that each type of oil can provide in your life and well-being. You can cook and clean with them, use them as beauty treatment for the hair and skin, elevate the mood aromatically, and most importantly, become empowered to treat your own illnesses naturally.
When I first heard about essential oils, it was through a family member who had heard about them through a friend (which is sort of the norm, as most of us actually begin considering using them only after we see people we know and trust that have used them and have seen results). As a society we have become so used to seeing ads for pharmaceuticals and the lengthy disclaimers that follow, and while I am not saying I am anti-pharmaceuticals or anti-doctor in any way, we are very accustomed to looking at medicine as something that is prescribed to us by a physician, instead of considering a natural approach, not only with essential oils, but in the food we eat, the exercises we engage in, and the mental therapies available for our health. Somehow, many of these natural remedies have been lost and are just now again emerging as more and more people search for natural means of health benefits and cutting down the toxins that we put into our bodies. Medical research, Universities and even some hospitals are beginning to recognize essential oils as being a solution to thousands of medical issues.
I wrote a blog a little while back that is more of an intro to essential oils, where they come from and some basic ways to use them, which you can read here, but I want to touch upon a few different reasons why you should consider using essential oils to begin with.
One of the most important reasons to use essential oils, which I have already touched upon a little bit, is that essential oils are 100% natural, meaning nothing is added or taken away from them. There are no hard to pronounce, man-made toxins or preservatives, colors or additives in essential oils, it is simply the highly potent concentrated medicine that the plant harvests within its cellular walls. Because of this, when used correctly, there is no one you cannot use EO’s on including infants, the elderly, even your pets! Because they are all natural and work on a cellular level, more importantly, they do not just treat a symptom, but rather, they treat the actual problem itself by helping the body heal itself and supporting the immune system inside the actual cells of our body. They can also kill bacteria and stop viruses from duplicating. Antibiotics aren’t as effective sometimes in treating viruses and bacteria and also come with side effects that can be unpleasant and even harmful to our bodies. On top of that, they are so much more expensive than essential oils. By the time you have paid the doctor or copay, driven around town, waited in line and paid for three prescriptions, you have paid well over what a few drops of an EO will cost you. Some people look at essential oils as expensive, but when you actually break down the cost of what it is to use them, you will find that they save you time and money in the long run.
Second, using essential oils is incredibly empowering as an individual, whether you are a mother, or perhaps caring for another person, or even a pet owner. At a time where the glorification of being busy seems to be at its highest, sometimes looking for simplicity is just what we need. When I became a new mother I felt helpless at times because I just didn’t know how to help my child when they were in pain. Not simply when they had cuts or scrapes, but when they couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop coughing through the night, or were bitten by fire ants on the playground, or had an earache at 2am. Being a mother is tough, as is taking care of anyone at all. Even when we are just responsible for ourselves, it is hard if we get sick in the middle of the night to be able to drag ourselves to the car and drive to the 24 hour emergency clinic.
I have three young boys ages 7-11, and when I found essential oils, my boys were out of infant/toddler age and able to tell me if and when they were feeling badly (which as a mom it is infinitely more helpful than when they are babies and you are trying to guess), but I have often wished I had had EO’s on hand and knew to use them when they were little as I am certain it would have relieved me of many trips to the pediatrician that may have been unnecessary. Just last year, my 11 year old woke up screaming with an earache at 2am, and luckily, I knew just what to do because we had been using EO’s for a while (I put a couple drops of basil on a cotton ball and placed it in both ears, and then massaged a few drops of lavender on his neck and around the ears to soothe and comfort him). Within 10 minutes, he was asleep and feeling much better. It was very empowering as a mother to be able to take care of him immediately, rather than when he was an infant and sick in the middle of the night and I could only hold him and try to soothe him to sleep, sometimes feeling extremely helpless.
Even with small issues however, essential oils can be extraordinarily useful, like with pets for example. We have a dog who gets unbelievably scared during thunderstorms and a couple of drops of lavender on his paws help him calm right down. On the other end of the spectrum, I have a cabin in the woods where my family and I love to retreat to in complete solidarity (a good two hours from an actual town) and when we are out there, I need to feel empowered to take care of myself and my family even when we are miles and miles from an actual medical facility. With essential oils, I can treat scrapes, burns, bites, stomachache, fever, allergies, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, headache, even a bout of the flu and more, all with a few bottles of essential oils.
Lastly, essential oils are so very versatile! It honestly is hard to mess up in using them because they are nearly fool proof. Yes, you have to make sure you do your homework on which brand of oils to use (I use and recommend dōTERRA brand oils, which you can find here) because unfortunately the FDA does not regulate the production of EO’s and as a result there are many brands who use fillers in their oils and are not 100% pure, (a topic that I cover in a previous blog, which you can read here). Another consideration is that because essential oils are so concentrated, they sometimes need to be blended with a carrier oil (such as coconut or grapeseed oil) to use topically on sensitive skin. However, once you get past the virtual unknown of using them and grow comfortable, you will begin to see how versatile they are.
The versatility carries over in how many ways essential oils can be used (aromatically, topically, and internally) and also in how many different oils can be used to treat a particular symptom, and vice versa, how many issues can be treated with one kind of oil. If you have a bottle of Tylenol in the cabinet, you can only use it for a headache. In the case of an essential oil (such as Peppermint for a headache), you can use it as medicine for dozens of ailments, or to cook with, to clean with, and more. Some people cook with oils to get nutritional benefits of the oils into foods, drinks, even weight loss programs. A wonderful additional way to use essential oils is to clean with them, as they are an amazing replacement to toxic chemical cleaners because they work better and smell fantastic as well. Some essential oils diffused into the air help kill germs (helpful when someone in the household is sick) and likewise some oils can elevate the mood or promote a restful sleep, help with asthma and congestion when diffused as well. The same oils that you can use to clean with and treat a scrape or rash you can also use to remove scars or soften wrinkles as well, making EO’s wonderful in place of chemicals we use on our hair and skin. The possibilities are endless, which saves you money, while being all natural as well. If you start looking at what is actually in the medicines, soaps, detergents, cleaners, face creams that we use, 95% of them we can’t even pronounce which makes you wonder what they actually are! Using EO’s is greener, healthier, and plain smart.
Again, you may be reading this and thinking to yourself, ‘Yeah, maybe I’ll use them one day’, or maybe you are thinking you can’t be bothered to figure out what to buy, but it really is simpler than you think, and I guarantee you, the proof is in the pudding. If you actually start using them for your health and wellness needs, you will wonder why it ever took you so long to start!
Tiffani Shipman graduated from University of Oklahoma with a double M.S. in Psychology and Sociology, received her RYT200 through Tiffani Cruikshank Yoga Medicine Program in 2014, and is currently studying Acupuncture and Holistic Therapy. When she isn’t studying her craft or teaching yoga, you'll find her playing practical jokes on her friends and family, restoring old cars, baking cupcakes, hula hooping, or enjoying a beer in the backyard. She resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with her husband and three boys.