You can’t spit without hitting a person who has either bought or sold essential oils in the past year. Their popularity has grown exponentially and rightly so. We’ve only scratched the surface of their power for use in health and healing.
Since the creation of my business, MOON Organics over 6 years ago, I have been working with essential oils and use them for their aromatic and skin healing/antibacterial/health properties. But just as your favorite Harry Potter characters misused incantations (sometimes to great detriment), essential oils can be misused as well.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years and have been used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. They are concentrated essence extracted by either chemical or natural methods.
Not all EO (essential oils) are created equal!
Because such a small part of the plant is rendered, EOs can be very expensive to make. This is why there are different grades. The only grade that should be used for treatment of any kind (and the only EOs that I ever use) is pure, therapeutic grade. Yet even among pure therapeutic grade EOs the purity and make-up of the oil can differ depending on when it was harvested, what kind of soil it was grown in, etc. It can get very complex. I have purchased basil EO, for example, from the same high quality company and have had two batches vary slightly in their aromatic potency and appearance. “Fragrance oils” are NOT essential oils, but are chemical synthetic renderings of scents and possess no healing properties whatsoever. So when purchasing just “aromatic oils”, you’re really not sure of what you’re getting.
Essential oils can effect the brain.
The sense of smell can strongly affect the amygdala, or the part of the brain partly responsible for emotions, compassion, and a sense of well being. By stimulating the amygdala, either by meditation, OR by the aroma of essential oils, you can work on emotions stored there or enhance your mindful practice. Frankincense, which is one of those “wonder oils” like lavender, has the ability to cross the blood brain barrier for example. (The “blood brain” barrier is a natural safety net in the brain that only allows certain substances that get in the blood through to affect the brain tissue. On a side note, most pharmaceuticals we use today are unable to cross the blood brain barrier) Using frankincense to release traumatic emotional experiences can be very useful as one of the best ways to stimulate the amygdala is with aromas or the sense of smell.
Essential oils have many properties.
The same frankincense that helped release your traumatic experience, can be taken internally to give a crazy boost to the immune system (I do not endorse taking EO’s internally without the direction of an experienced practitioner) and it can also fight bacteria on the skin (I use this EO to stop BO in my Pit Stop natural deodorant) That same essential oil has dozens of other properties. Some may not be desired. For example, I only use a certain type of lavender, lavendula angustifolia, because it is one of the lavender types that does not have any hormonal properties. Being a breast cancer survivor, that is important to me and to my customers. Oregano essential oil was used in Medieval times to induce labor or abortions. Oregano is perfectly safe to eat as a plant, but the oils concentrate the medicinal properties and are extremely potent.
EOs are potent
You should not use EOs directly on the skin because they can cause serious irritation and sometimes significant burning. With the exception of tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia) and lavender, EOs need to be mixed with a carrier oil, like olive, jojoba, or grapeseed in order to use them on the skin. Some are so potent, like grapefruit seed extract, that only one or two drops is used per 8 ounces. Even with tea tree and lavender, some can get sensitized from use and can develop a reaction to further use.
EOs are made up of many parts
Essential oils possess certain substances. Just as an apple is made up of carbs, fiber and sugar, EOs are made up of properties like terrines, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, and such. And each of these subparts has their own subparts. Each constituent has certain properties that act on the body mind or spirit.
EOs possess vibrational properties
Without going into too much on vibration, (entire libraries can be filled with lessons on vibrational energy) let’s just say, everything on this planet vibrates at a certain frequency. For example, the human brain vibrates at a frequency of 72-90 MHz (megahertz is the “ruler” used to measure frequency) and death begins at 25 Mhz. The lower the vibration, the more negative or less healthy it becomes. Cancer vibrates at 42 Mhz. The use of EOs can raise the vibrational energy of a body or an area. The use of rose absolute essential oil has this property. In fact, when I was first working with rose, I did not respect the scent, and I became super dizzy. I didn’t realize the power it had until I started working with it. This peaked my desire to learn more about EOs and gave me a serious respect for using them properly.
I purchase most my EOs from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are the BEST supplier I have found, period. (There’s a link on the right side of this blog).
So needless to say, when I see everybody and their sister selling these oils from their homes, without proper training it makes it a bit concerned. Even with the studying and books and courses that I have taken, I still don’t feel properly trained to give advice on using EOs for health properties, and I am VERY particular about the EO’s I use in my MOON Organics creations. If you want to buy or sell EOs just be aware that just because they are “natural” doesn’t mean they cannot do harm in the wrong hands. (Although the side effects of using essential oils are minuscule compared to the hundreds of thousands of deaths every year from pharmaceuticals.)
I consulted Summer Sarinova, a trained herbalist who is trained in using EOs about the big EO boom and her advice. Here’s what Summer had to say:
Approaching the use of essential oils as a layperson should be approached with care, but can certainly be approached. Even if self-educated, a thoughtful and researched approach to experimentation with essential oils can be beneficial. I would only suggest to not use them carelessly.
It is important to realize is that special care must be taken with use on the very young and the elderly. The strength of essential oils must not be underestimated and may be too potent at times without proper dilution. Even on healthy individuals, the oils may cause burns or other adverse reactions if not handled with knowledge and deference.
The life-enhancing capabilities of essential oils are vast and can be quite effective. I would encourage a person to either be dedicated in their learning about the use of the oils in advance, or seek advice from someone experienced in using them. Above all, one of the most beneficial things to do is to use them respectfully, considering that they are the life force of plants and can be quite powerful. Moderation in all things.
I find that the older books on essential oils are the best, and even then I will still cross reference three different resources. My top recommendations are:
Any essential oil books by the Worwoods, Valerie Ann and Susan.
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, and Essential Aromatherapy
and for very interesting traditional, historic insight:
Healing Oils, Healing Hands by Linda L. Smith
On a different (lighter?) note, I particularly enjoy the emotional assistance they offer. Mood enhancing properties of essential oils such as calming, stress relieving, relaxing, uplifting….as through aromatherapy. There is much less risk involved in using e.o.’s aroma-therapeutically.
Summer is an amazing person. She is a trained herbalist as well as a master glass blower and creator at Sarinova Glass. I originally met Summer when my daughter wanted a birthday present and sent me to Summer website. She is incredibly talented. You may remember me telling you about her glass straws which I use every day and absolutely LOVE!
I wanted to tap her brain about what an herbalist was and get some insight for those going through illness…
Me: What is an “herbalist” and how can they help with health and wellness issues?
Summer: An herbalist utilizes the healing properties of plants and other natural substances to help prevent and treat ailments, promote healing, and improve general health. This may include implementing teas, supplements, offering dietary suggestions for healthy cooking, as well as the use of a broad range of homeopathic, Ayurvedic, Chinese, or other time-tested holistic medicinal influences.
Me: What is your background?
Summer: I am an artist who initially studied at the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute, and later broadened my perspective to include a wide variety of natural and alternative methods of healing.
Me: How did you become interested in becoming an herbalist?
Summer: I have always had an inquisitive appetite for learning about and practicing natural remedies. After visiting a local (and renowned) herb shop run by an incredibly loving and knowledgeable woman, too humble to ever refer to herself as a Master Herbalist, I became enthralled. Many people, including myself, would come in and state their malady, and receive customized suggestions on how to naturally remediate the ailment or concern . All of this was offered free of charge and with genuine sincerity and personalized attention. When I found out that the shop’s proprietor taught Herbalist Certification courses, I made it my mission to accomplish the goal of learning as much as I could about herbal medicine and have the ability to help others in a similar way. Chiefly, I wanted to have these skills to offer my own family and friends in their times of need. That was eight years ago, and now I am a practicing herbalist working alongside that same Master Herbalist I originally admired. I continue to learn more every day, with the clients I love serve, about the healing qualities that plants have to offer.
Me: What can someone expect when they see an herbalist?
Summer: An herbalist will generally hear your concern, and then through a series of questions, strive to gain a better understanding of your condition. I will usually ask if you are taking any prescription medications, basic dietary information, duration of symptoms, medical history, etc. before offering a suggestion. This may be formal or informal. Some herbalists charge for a consultation, others do not.
Me: How can an herbalist help with someone going through cancer treatments…chemo and radiation, or someone wanting to boost his or her immune power to prevent recurrence?
Summer: With cancer treatment in particular, an herbalist should be able to offer proactive ways to help manage symptoms, side-effects and discomfort, while working on gently maintaining and restoring the integrity of the body as a whole. There are some truly powerful plant-based options for immune support and protection.
Me: What other products or services do you offer?
Summer: Aside from being an herbalist, I am a artist. Lampworked glass and custom mosaic installations have been my primary concentrations over the past 10 years. I work with borosilicate glass, shaping the molten material into wearable glass art. Glass Feather pendants and Memorial Glass pieces are my signature items, but I also create functional, reusable glass drinking straws.
The memorial glass pieces that Summer creates are wearable keepsakes containing something from a loved one…a lock of hair or ashes.
Those who know me know I am all about naturals for health and wellness, but I only ask that you respect Mother Nature, because you really don’t want to piss her off.
I would love to hear your take. Do you use EOs?