During my career as a physician assistant I was taught to be very skeptical of alternative medicine which encompasses anything outside the realm of treatments including prescription drugs or surgery. I considered things like herbal medicine or essential oils to be hogwash, or at least poorly ineffective. I have come to realize that many of these treatments are often more effective with fewer side effects and even beneficial to our bodies. Today I will be sharing about my personal Journey to Health using essential oils.
This blog is my way of examining sometimes controversial matters and helping you to process them along with me. The food we eat, the exercise we get, chemicals in our environment… so many things factor into our health and we need to continue to explore how they are affecting our bodies. If the overall goal is to have optimal health, then we should find what works and not immediately be suspicious because these ideas may be new to us. Many therapies have been around for thousands of years before our time, such as essential oils.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They give plants their distinctive smells, protect the organism and play a role in pollination. Essential oils are typically created through the process of distillation which separates the oil and water based compounds of a plant by steaming.
Essential oils were one of those topics I considered to be a little bit out there. They have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. But do they work?
I have had many people ask me my opinion about them and honestly, I’ve been very skeptical. I knew many people out there who would swear by them, but I just wasn’t educated enough to feel comfortable recommending their use.
I was afraid people were using them inappropriately and not seeking the education to learn how to use them properly. We need to understand that just because something is natural and comes from a plant, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe for you. Think about it – opium comes from the poppy seed plant, but can do major damage when used improperly. Remember one man’s cure can be another man’s poison.
I didn’t want be one of those people, so I remained a little unsure as I quietly began using essential oils few years ago. Over the last few months I have really began to investigate them by watching lectures, reading articles, and searching the internet to learn how to properly use oils. I have learned a lot and realize that there is plenty more to learn.
Here are a few ways I began to try to incorporate them into our lives.
My first experiment with essential oils involved creating cleaning supplies for my home using lemon, orange, and lavender. I was trying to decrease the toxic chemical load on my family and felt like natural cleaners were any easy way to do this. I found a recipe for a natural disinfectant and it helped to put my mind at ease in reducing the toxic chemicals in my child’s environment.
I used to suffer from significant neck and back that pain that caused almost daily headaches. Using peppermint oil topically for both the muscle aches and pain as well as the headaches provided immediate relief – it was astounding. I wasn’t having to take daily ibuprofen just to get through the workday.
After working an overnight shift in the emergency room, it can be tough to fall asleep and stay asleep. I would often come home from one of these shifts exhausted, but unable to fall asleep. One thing that really helped me get some serious shut eye was defusing lavender essential oils.
Then I learned the many benefits of tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca). It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so I added it to my cleaning supplies and used it on my floors when mopping. After doing some gardening in our yard one day I came into contact with poison ivy – we live near some woods and it runs rampant around there. I was using Benadryl at night and even had steroid cream prescribed to use topically, but still I was having difficulty sleeping due to the itching. I had heard melaleuca was beneficial for several skin conditions, so I gave it a try. Mixing with a base oil of jojoba oil I applied it to the rash, and amazingly it took the itch away better than the conventional medicinal treatments combined!
A Part of Our Daily Lives
To answer the question at the beginning of the blog, yes, I think essential oils should be considered when trying to live a healthy lifestyle. From diffusing, topical use, and even ingesting them, the benefits and uses of essential oils continue to amaze me. The journey through investigating essential oils has led to them becoming a regular part of our daily lives.
If you would like to begin trying to use essential oils for their health befits, I want stress to you that not all essential oils are created equally. There are a lot of oils that are created synthetically and provide little to no benefit to your health. When buying essential oils, make sure they are certified pure therapeutic grade. If you are interested in the brand I trust and personally use, email email@example.com to order or learn where to buy them.
I look forward to sharing more information in the future about my personal journey with oils and I look forward to hearing from those who are doing the same.
Thanks for reading this article and remember that every journey begins with a single step… Take one today.
~ Kelly ~