What are the benefits of essential oils?

 
 

If you're not familiar with essential oils or don't yet incorporate them into your lifestyle, it's fascinating to learn the many uses and benefits. I used to think that essential oils were had the same basic use as perfume: to smell good. But aromatherapy is much more than just good smells and it's only one aspect of using essential oils. Understanding how essential oils work with the body and the brain can help you to benefit more from the way you use them.

Three main ways that essential oils interact with the body:

1) Pharmacological: When essential oils enter the bloodstream, chemical changes take place when the oil reacts with enzymes, hormones, minerals...etc. Humans have used plants and herbs as medicine since we’ve existed. All over the world, people have figured out that by applying oils topically, they’re absorbed directly through the skin and into the bloodstream. A very small amount of potent oils can have drastic effects.

Essential oil constituents have the potential to affect every cell of the body within 20 minutes and then be metabolized like any other nutrient.

 At some point, much of our Western culture has forgotten about the pharmacy of nature. Essential oils offer an extra way to use plants as part of diet, reflexology, emotional wellness, massage, and immune-boosting. It can feel overwhelming at first, but with a little education, essential oils can be used to replace every synthetic drug in your medicine cabinet.

2) Physiological: This has to do with the way that the essential oil affects various systems in the body. Certain oils will stimulate or sedate various systems or organs within the body. You can also affect the way an oil is used based on which nostril you breathe into or where you apply it in relation to acupuncture (energy meridian) points.

Essential oils have the ability to affect the brain more than drugs.

The blood-brain barrier is a filtering mechanism that prevents substances from reaching the brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid. 98% of small molecule drugs cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, which would be essential for the treatment of brain diseases and disorders. But certain essential oils can naturally cross the blood-brain barrier and impact neurotransmitter receptors therapeutically. This is why essential oils are so extremely therapeutic for any dysfunction of the brain or nervous system.

3) Psychological: When an oil is inhaled, our body has an individual response to the aroma (aromatherapy).

Our sense of smell is directly connected to the frontal lobe of the brain, so diffusing oils is one simple way to achieve a desired mood.

There are many ways to diffuse scent, without a nebulizing diffuser. You can simply inhale directly from the vial, add to a handkerchief or pillowcase, use as perfume, add in the shower or bath, or place a drop of oil on a cotton ball and add to air vents or attach to a ceiling fan. You might diffuse or inhale invigorating or citrusy oils while you’re working, and switch to soothing, earthy scents when you need to wind down. (TIP: Explore various blends of oils to find or create a combination that resonates with you and your body/brain chemistry. Everyone is different.)

Check out some of the uses of a few popular essential oils and DoTerra blends:


When going the holistic route, it’s important to choose completely pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils. Otherwise, you’re simply adding other foreign substances to your body, putting a burden on your liver and kidneys to filter. Even though they can be pricey, what’s nice about good quality essential oils is that a little goes a LONG way. Essential oils are highly concentrated, so you’re just wasting product if you use more than a few drops. For many applications, essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil or water.

If you're looking to incorporate oils into your self-care, books are a great place to start! Modern Essentials is one really complete guide that I would recommend. Your local library or bookstore surely has many references and ideas for you...you can also just ask!

I sell DoTerra essential oil products. I chose DoTerra because they preserve purity by sourcing plants from indigenous regions all over the world. I love sharing creative ways to use oils and helping you find ones that will support you on your physical or emotional journey. I place an order on the 15th of each month, so just check in if you have any questions or are thinking about oils you might like to try!

Cold Remedy Roundup

With the help of nutritional balancing, it's been a really long time since I've been sick (knock on wood!), but there's been a ton of germs and various illnesses floating around in my area. This time of year, fluctuations in temperature, changes in diet and increased stress or depression can lead to exacerbated symptoms and lingering sinus infections. We have to work a little harder to rest intentionally and nourish our bodies.

So, I've decided to compile my list of the best all-natural go-to remedies. I truly believe that the body is designed to heal itself, it just needs the right types of support and TLC!

Yoga:

You may not feel like going to your usual yoga class or practicing inversions, but there are lots of yoga techniques that support the stuffy nose, foggy head or painful sinuses.

Lion's Breath pranayama is one simple breathing technique that can clear out junk from the throat. (It's not a great one to practice in public, but it's useful nonetheless) It basically involves stretching the tongue out as far as you can while taking a forceful exhalation through the back of the throat. It feels really good and is definitely worth trying.

Acupressure and facial massage help to drain the sinuses. Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that the tips of the fingers and the tips of the toes correspond directly to the sinuses. It's amazing what a little fingertip massage or pressure can do for the sinuses. I also usually recommend gentle massage with the fingertips across the face, sinuses and behind the ears down the throat. You can explore many different methods that might feel good for you and when you find a tender spot, push into it for a few breaths.

Practicing meditation while you're sick is a useful way to gain insight into what your body really needs. Being sick requires us to slow down anyway, so it's also a logical time to listen. If your body were a metaphor, what is your body trying to tell you through this sickness? How did you end up here and what can you learn from this time?

Mucous congestion, no matter where it occurs in the body, is always related to overstimulated nerves, inner tensions and unrest, triggered by over-straining, being pressed for time, being aggravated or experiencing fear. - Gertrud Hirschi

Food:

Regardless of what your diet usually is, now is the time to really nourish your body with healing foods. Cut out all processed foods, sugar and dairy. Your body needs all the help it can get. Every time a foreign ingredient, additive or pesticide gets into your body, it loads down the liver and kidneys. Sugar weakens the immune system and dairy can often increase mucous build-up.

Add in lots of nourishing soups, and all cooked or steamed vegetables. Cooking vegetables is actually more nourishing when you're immune system is compromised in any way. When you're sick, tired or stressed, your digestion is not prepared to properly digest raw vegetables. Cooking them breaks down the cell wall so that it can be more easily digested and absorbed.

Drinks:

While you're sick, cut out coffee and soda, drink tons of water and add in herbal tea. There are TONS of different types of tea that can soothe your throat, boost your immune system or help you to sleep. A few of my cold-busting favorites are Ginger, Echinachia, and Sleepytime Extra.

As opposed to regular broth, bone broth is a more nutritious and immunity-boosting variety. To make a simple batch of bone broth, put chicken, turkey or beef bones into a crockpot and cover with water. Cook for about 24 hours to draw all of the fatty nutrients from the bones. I like to save bones from meat in a freezer bag and once the gallon bag is full, I know I have enough for a batch of broth. (Here's a full recipe and directions)

Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar is one of my biggest and most helpful tips. It's antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and will instantly clear your sinuses and act as a natural expectorant. ACV is also healing for your digestive tract and helps to balance the natural acidity of the stomach. I usually just take a shot, but you can also dilute a shot in warm or cool water with raw honey.

Essential Oils:

Just like tea, there is a wide variety of essential oils that can help you in many ways when you're sick. One of my personal favorites is Peppermint or the DoTerra Breathe blend to open sinuses. I like to put it on my throat or chest, the bottoms of my feet or add a few drops into a hot shower.

DoTerra OnGuard is a blend of oils designed specifically to purify and boost immunity. So you can drink it at the first sign of a cold, apply topically to pulse points or feet and diffuse it to kill air-born bacteria, allergens and mold. Plus is smells amazing, so it's mood-boosting. :)

If you're interested in learning more about essential oils, I sell doTerra oils. Ask me anything!

Attitude:

An often overlooked aspect of being sick is our attitude about the entire experience. It's so interesting and helpful to change your perspective about being sick in the first place. Do you find that you "don't have time to be sick" or want to power through it for your own pride? Do you prefer to milk the sickness for all it's worth because it's the only rest you've had in weeks? Just as valuable as why you got sick in the first place, consider how you're handling the process.

Yoga teaches us to neither pull toward or push away from any experience or sensation. Practicing non-attachment means that we do not allow outside circumstances to effect our peace. A good way to think of a cold or sickness is that it's just passing through and maybe it's offering you something to learn in the meantime.

Hope you're feeling well! Comment with thoughts or questions!

 

 

Winter Wellness

As you approach any new season or life transition, it's always beneficial to reflect upon the coming change, allowing yourself time to note new energy or thought patterns and ask yourself what types of support you will need. Winter represents a cozy time of hibernation, withdrawal, dormancy and stillness; however, for many, winter can seem dark and oppressive. If you live in an area that has a long winter season (December 21st is the official winter solstice for those who are local), now is the time to create the necessary lifestyle and attitude changes to enjoy an uplifting and calming winter season.

Begin by just considering your ideas about winter. What is the Story you tell yourself about winter? What were your winters like growing up as a child? How did your family or friends feel about winter? What does this time of year represent for you? What are your assumptions and expectations around this season? Begin to understand the WHY behind your true feelings and allow yourself to gently explore which ones are worth keeping and which ones do not serve you moving forward.

Energetically, winter offers us a symbolic respite. If you think about it, doesn't it feel a little slower? Nature gives us cues to use winter as a time to develop, go inward, rest and reflect.

There is a particular stillness that characterizes winter, and with it comes a subtle invitation to redirect our own energies. The winter season holds the perfect antidote to the fast-paced mobility of the summer and fall. This is a time to rest, reflect, hold space, vision, hibernate, withdraw some of your outwardly-focused energy and redirect it inward.
— Banyan Botanicals

Steps to enjoy a more restorative winter season:

1) Develop or keep a sense of purpose. A routine helps one to stay grounded through the winter and to resist falling into a pattern of too little activity. Search for ways that you can stay active and calm without filling up space with busy-ness.

2) Invite warmth into your body and mind. Practice ujjayi breathing, keep your neck and head warm with scarves and hats, enjoy activities that make you feel light such as laughing with friends or dancing to your favorite song.

3) Socialize and retreat. Find balance between quiet time and savoring your relationships. Winter can tend to feel isolating for some people, so if so, make a point to reach out and connect with those around you. Learn how to pay attention to your energy and say "no" when needed.

4) Modify your physical practice. On days that feel dreary and heavy for you, invite expansiveness and light energy to your yoga practice or exercise routine. On the bright, crisp winter days that already feel more energized, feel for balance by practicing restorative, gentle or restful postures.

5) Meditate and reflect. Fall is a time to "reap what we've sewn" energetically and "plant seeds" to incubate over the winter. Think about how you would like to enjoy your winter and what you would like to prioritize to cultivate for spring.


This Tumeric Milk recipe is rich, unique, bold and sweet. Try is as an invigorating warm drink in the cold winter months to help balance your system.

Tumeric Milk Recipe:

Serves: 2 • Prep time 5 minutes • Cook time 10 minutes

2 cups of milk (any kind)

1 T. raw honey (optional)

1 T coconut oil (optional)

1 t. ground tumeric

1 cinnamon stick or 1 t. ground cinnamon

1 cardamom pod or cardamom to taste

Pinch of ground pepper and fresh, grated ginger

1) Pour all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a light boil. Whisk, reduce to low heat and simmer for up to 10 minutes.

2) Strain the milk if you've used full cardamom pods or cinnamon sticks, etc.

3) Serve warm or cold with a dash of cinnamon.