Essential Oils and the Magic They Bring
I used to think aromatherapy was just part of a spa ritual. It was a lovely scent wafting through the air while I immersed my feet in a bowl filled with warm water and flowers and sipped a ginger tea while waiting for the massage I booked. It was through the lavender or peppermint scented oil that was used for my massage.
Today, my idea of aromatherapy has become so much more than that.
First, I am an ordinary woman who loves her Charlotte Tilbury and MAC makeup, Jo Malone cologne and Bath and Body Works variety of fabulously scented soaps as much as I love hand-milled natural soap, sodium laurel sulfate-free shampoo and Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. I’ve always been open to alternatives to Western medicine; trying Chinese foot massage, moxa ventosa or Philippine hilot when needed. Now I am happy to add essential oils to that list. I still take medicine when I need to, but more and more, instead of reaching for that pill, I find myself reaching for a bottle of essential oil.
Essential oils are volatile liquids or aromatic compounds that are extracted from certain varieties of trees, shrubs, plants, grasses, roots and flowers. They are extracted by steam distillation, CO2 extraction, maceration or solvent extraction—the most common being steam distillation, the first notable use of essential oils was recorded in 1500. There are over a hundred chemical components found in essential oils, each with their own versatile purposes. Essential oils are complex, each with its own frequency and can be used aromatically, internally and topically.
Photo courtesy of sheknows.com
Aromatherapy’s roots for medicinal, cosmetic, dietary and spiritual uses can be sourced to ancient civilizations in China, the Middle East, India and the Americas but existing records can be found as early as 2697 BC in the oldest surviving Chinese medical book, Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. In 2650-2575 BC, Egyptians developed the process of mummification and embalming to immortalize their dead. Frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, juniper berry and cedar wood have been used to preserve royalty for their journey to the afterlife. Moreover, Egyptians are believed to have invented perfume extracted from flowers.
I was introduced to essential oils through my sister Margie. She invited me to her home where Teresa Valmonte, a mother of three based in California, French Method-trained aroma therapist and distributor of Young Living essential oils, would be talking about the precious oils. Margie’s dining room, where she was diffusing, smelled heavenly. Everyone in attendance was excited to smell the oils, apply them and listen to Teresa’s amazing testimonial.
Two years ago, Teresa was battling major respiratory challenges with strong prescriptions of antibiotics and steroids. She attended an essential oils party where she first smelled Young Living essential oils. For the first time in months, she was able to breathe properly through her nose. She had become more and more interested with essential oils’ therapeutic benefits and joined Young Living. “It’s changing lives, one drop at a time,” she said.
I now know there are several essential oil brands on the market. But just like purchasing a great wine, you should choose a reputable source to ensure you get what you pay for. In the essential oils industry, what you buy on the natural food store shelf may not be as pure as you think. There are companies that grow their own harvests and distill them; those who buy from these farmers and resell them; then there are the retailers who buy it from these middlemen. Since there is a limited supply of God’s given goodness and an abundant supply of essential oils, you wonder what makes up the difference. Sometimes an essential oil can be adulterated with synthetics or less than ideal distilling methods so it’s best to do your research. If an oil seems really cheap, it’s probably been tampered with.
Lavender field in Mona, Utah courtesy of yleo365.com
Gary Young and his wife Mary Young started Young Living in 1993 with their own organic herb farming and distilling operation of essential oils in Utah. Today, Young Living farms are found all over the world and the company is involved in what they call Seed to Seal® – the process of choosing seeds, planting, cultivating and harvesting them sustainably, choosing the right distillation method to extract the essential oil from the product, testing them through their own in-house labs and third party testing facilities to ensure each batch contains the right chemical constituents and finally, filling and sealing each bottle to be shipped to its members worldwide. Each bottle contains 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils, except for certain blends which contain carrier oils, as stated on its packaging.
Knowing the company controlled the process of their products, I decided to order the Premium Starter Kit from the Young Living website comprised of five 5ml singles, six specially made 5ml blends and a cold water diffuser for the home. It was an approachable way for a beginner to get to know essential oils.
Dew Drop diffuser for day or night
I received my oils in early December 2016 and downloaded the Reference Guide to Essential Oils app on my phone to help teach me about the different YL oils and how to apply them. First, I just diffused my room with relaxing lavender, energizing peppermint or air pollutant clearing purification. Diffusing five drops of lavender in cold water would put my then 11-year-old son Enzo to sleep in five minutes as well as ensure a restful sleep for me.
When the December virus season hit, my friend Pia gave me some rollerball glass bottles so that I could apply diluted blends for my son Enzo and myself. Upon the recommendation of my aroma therapist friend Kate, I bought jojoba carrier oil from Healthy Options to dilute my essential oils. I blended Panaway and Peppermint to ease sore muscles after spin class or yoga. I applied diluted Brain Power to Enzo’s big toe every morning before school. I diluted Thieves—a blend of clove, lemon and cinnamon oils—and applied it on my feet to boost my immune system. If I started feeling a lump in my throat, I even applied Thieves neat to the roof of my mouth. When I heard Enzo begin to cough, I applied a drop of Frankincense to his head, RC to his chest, a special roller blend of lemon, lavender and peppermint along his spine as well as the Thieves on his feet before bed and in the morning. I applied the same protocol on our nanny and our helper who were coughing. Those who were sick got well and Enzo and I never got sick at all. I was sold.
Products I made from Kanaw it All
I signed up for Kanaw it All, a class led by YL members Geri Gil and Cielo Vilchez of 365 Everyday Oils that teach other YL members how to make their own natural products. Cielo has been making her own products for years and when she was introduced to Young Living, she felt the difference. During the class, I learned to make all kinds of beauty and home products such as make-up remover, mouthwash, hand sanitizer, bug spray and surface cleaner using my Premium Starter Kit Oils paired with various natural ingredients. It felt like a fun chemistry class as we mixed and poured into bottles.
Bottle stickers from EO Accessories
365 Everyday Oils is where I buy bottles and carrier oils as well as the other natural ingredients we used in class. From Essentials Everyday, I buy YL bottle stickers, inhalers and disposable cotton wicks as well as different sized roller bottles, necklace diffusers and pretty boxes to store all your oils.
Learning about essential oils is a work in progress. I always do my research before recommending any oils. Start slow, do a diluted test patch first to test for any sensitivities. Know that some oils are not meant for pregnant or nursing women or babies. Enzo has his own set of oils for everyday and he no longer takes Iterax for his skin asthma—Lavender, Cedarwood, Peace and Calming or Stress Away make him sleep like a baby. Instead of cortisone ointment, I apply diluted lavender oil and diluted peppermint infused avocado oil on him to help relieve any itching. We haven’t gotten sick at all since we started using these oils. There are so many ways that essential oils are used in our home and on us everyday.
My essential oils travel kit on a recent trip to Singapore
Above and beyond the Young Living website and Reference app, what keeps me enthused and excited about the oils is the growing community of oilbularyos on our Facebook site and chat groups. Everyone openly shares their testimonials about what has worked for them. Because of them, I am encouraged to also share my stories. I’ve become that lady offering oils in a tissue to strangers on the plane.
Aromatherapy is now part of my everyday life. Should I want that spa experience, I can recreate the whole scenario—from the scent wafting through the air to the lavender infused massage oil—this time knowing the oils being used are made by me.