Essential Oil Safety: Less is More!

Less is More

Let’s say you’re allergic to peanuts (maybe you are). Say it’s a mild allergy – you experience some discomfort when you ingest peanuts, but it’s not life threatening, just a little tickle in your throat and some nausea that tell you you’re allergic to peanuts.

Let’s say that, even though you know you’re allergic, you sort of shrug it off because you can live with the symptoms. It’s not like your breathing is cut off or anything. So, from time to time you indulge. You eat peanut butter cups, pb&j sandwiches, and even the occasional bag of roasted salted peanuts you get at the corner store for a dollar. You feel the tickle in your throat and the little stomach ache but it’s really nothing. Peanuts are healthy, you reason, a good source of protein. All your favorite bloggers have tons of earthy crunchy recipes with peanut butter in them, so it can’t be that bad.

One night, you get a craving for a nice big peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You go the the kitchen, make it up, and take a bite. You eat half the sandwich before you realize your throat feels tight. Maybe it’s just the bread. You stop eating to get drink of water and realize that the room is spinning. You really can’t breathe. Your skin is covered in hives. You end up spending the night in the ER from a severe allergic reaction.

This scenario is a scary one, and it happens often. What most people don’t realize, however, is that this very same thing can happen with essential oils.

Yep, even something that has the ability to help and heal a myriad of health issues can also be the cause of issues if you’re not careful. Essential oils are highly concentrated, so a drop of oil goes a long way. Less is more.

What’s more, oils and oil blends may have components you are allergic to without realizing it. At first your body may not react but tolerates it. However, just like a peanut allergy, the buildup of what your body perceives as dangerous eventually puts it over the edge, and it reacts strongly in very dangerous ways.

This doesn’t just happen with allergies. Too much of a good thing can be detrimental to anyone. Take water: it makes up 70% of your system and yet you can still drown. Natural does not always mean healthy, and healthy does not always mean healthy all the time. It takes research and patience to determine what is best for your body at a given time.

If you use essential oils, remember that less is more. A single drop of oil can help your system without taxing it. Always dilute oils in a carrier oil before you put them on your skin. Practice caution, and you will see that using less with enable your body to heal itself without being overwhelmed. (You’ll also safe a lot more money!)

How do you like to be safe when you use oils?
Have you ever had a massive reaction to something that was supposed to be healthy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

What is Holistic Health?

On this blog we talk a lot (and will talk a lot) about “holistic health.” But what does that mean?

What is Holistic

By definition, holistic means “relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts” (merriam-webster.com).

Whereas mainstream medicine treats individual health issues as they pop up (say a cold), holistic medicine is concerned with caring for the entire body as well as the mind.

This is why aromatherapy is considered holistic – when I am consulting with someone who’d like an essential oil blend, I don’t just dump in a bunch of oils that are good for the common cold. I probe deeper. I ask the person if they have any allergies, if they’ve been going through a stressful time, or how their mood has been. All these and other factors affect how I treat what seems to be the simplest of problems – a cold.

This might sound exhaustive or even a little unnecessary, but think about it. Our bodies are a collection of systems working together to keep us alive and well. The respiratory system is not independent of the cardiac system, nor is the muscular system independent of the nervous system. They all work together and rely on each other.

It follows, then, that a health issue affecting one will affect the other. If the immune system is struggling, the entire body will respond in order to fill in the deficiency. This is why I believe a holistic approach is so important: a cold does not just affect your nose or your throat. The rest of the body doesn’t just let your nose fall of and say “well the rest of us are fine!” Your entire immune system is weakened, your mood is affected, and it’s harder to carry out everyday tasks as usual. Cutting off your nose would not make this better!

So I hope this helps clear up any misconceptions you may have about holistic health, or at least clarifies for you what it even is. Holistic medicine is a bit of a fad right now, and as such it is easy to think that this or that is what holistic health means. But really the concept is simple. How you practice it and how it plays out in your individual life will look different to different people.

And honestly, that’s the spirit of holistic health: everyone’s different, with different bodies and health needs and reactions. Medicine should help each individual body and mind the way that they specifically need it. If you believe that, then congratulations! You’re thinking holistically.

What comes to mind when you think of holistic health?

Does this post clear up any misconceptions, answer any questions, or spark more?

Let me know in the comments below!

Three Ways to Use Essential Oils

Most people might think of essential oils as a sort of lotion, in which just slathering an oil on various parts of your body will help with every health issue you have. Others take oils internally in food or drink. Both of these methods work to a certain point, but only when done correctly. If they are not used with proper knowledge and precautions, they can be highly dangerous and not even beneficial to the parts of the body they are targeting.

The good news is, these are not the only two ways to use essential oils. The world of aromatherapy is vast and versatile, helpful for a variety of people and needs. Here are three ways to “think outside the box” to effectively use essential oils.

3 Ways to Use

Steaming

(from mynaturalfamily.com)

Putting a few drops of oil in some boiling water and breathing in the steam can be highly beneficial, especially for respiratory problems. The steam also helps open up pores and cleanse the skin. Rosemary and lavender are helpful for these.

Diffusing

(from Amazon.com)

There are several kinds of diffusers helpful for releasing oils into the air. I have a steam diffuser from Ameo, and tons of similar devices can be found online. Reed diffusers and oil burners are also available. Some helpful oils to diffuse include grapefruit to brighten the mood and peppermint to energize (and create a really nice smell!). Jewelry made with untreated clay can hold in oils like a sponge and diffuse as you wear them.

Inhaling

(from sks-bottle.com)

This method occurs when the oil is put in an inhaler and sniffed in short breaths throughout the day. Oils such as lemon are great for this as they can provide a burst of energy on the go!

Of course there are many more ways to use essential oils, but these three are practical, everyday ways to incorporate aromatherapy into your life.

Have you used any of these methods before?

How did they work for you?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Why Essential Oils?

Have you ever wondered why essential oils can help with your health? How does something smelly (even if it’s a good smell) affect your physical and emotional well-being? Is it all superstitious mumbo-jumbo or is it grounded in reality?

I will take a look at that today.

Essential oils, like everything else, are made up of chemical components. These chemicals affect our body chemistry in certain ways. The chemical makeup also affects the smell of the oil, so while we assume that the smell itself makes us healthy, in reality the chemical makeup causes both the smell and the effect.

Let’s take lavender (angustifolia), for example. Lavender oil has nearly forty chemical components, most of them occurring in very small amounts. However, the chemical linalyl acetate makes up almost 40% of lavender oil. Linalyl acetate reduces stress, which explains why we use lavender for calming purposes. This chemical also helps create the characteristic lavender scent.

Hopefully this small example piques your interest. Contrary to what people may think, aromatherapy and the use of essential oils in completely grounded in scientific fact. Herbs have a natural chemical makeup that, when concentrated in an oil, affect the chemical makeup of the body in certain ways.

This is why they are far more effective than just a nice smell, and it is also why it is extremely important to make sure that the substance you are putting on your body is safe for you and your needs!

Has this post sparked any thoughts or questions on essential oils?

Let me know in the comments below!