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Friday, November 28, 2014

Natural Living: The Many Uses of Essential Oils with doTERRA


I've been trying to turn to a more natural lifestyle for several years. This has included changing my food choices and the products I use in my homes, among other choices. As with any shift in lifestyle choices, there's a learning curve and your confidence grows as you learn more. About two years ago I decided to try my hand at making my own laundry detergent; this was my big leap into trying to reduce the chemicals I use and so began the purchase of items such as essential oils, borax, laundry soda, and copious amounts of vinegar and baking soda.  While I've had mixed levels of success as I try different mixtures, my homemade laundry detergent has yet to disappoint me (go to the blog's Green Cleaning page to find out how to make it). And among the other items that have become my go- tos when looking for a natural alternative, essential oils have become something I am using more and more.

While they can seem pricey, they really do go a long way; you only need a small amount for each use. In addition to being used in aromatherapy and to add a desired scent to natural cleaning and toiletry products (vs the artificial chemical scents added to laundry detergents, cleaning products, etc), essential oils have a variety of other applications. That's why when I was recently contacted by Heather Gibson of doTERRA, I was intrigued to learn more and expand my uses for them. Heather kindly sent me doTERRA's Starter Kit containing lavender, lemon, and peppermint essential oils. Along with the kit, Heather also included a variety of information about the history and uses of essential oil:

"Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in plants that are extracted through steam distillation or cold pressed and as a result are very concentrated (50- 70% stronger than herbs). Benefits of natural medicines include treating the root causes of an ailment (vs. treating the symptoms), are safe with no side effects and can be used by all ages (whereas many traditional medicines have age restrictions)." 
-doTERRA

I found it really interesting to learn about the different ways essential oils can be used to soothe and treat a variety of ailments. Will and I have both suffered from severe headaches and anxiety and I was familiar with the use of lavender and peppermint oils to treat these. However, there are countless other uses for these three oils alone:

Lavender
- Can be diffused in a room or applied to the skin to help you relax and reduce anxiety
- Soothes irritated/ chapped lips and skin (such as burns and diaper rash)
- Soothes bee stings and bug bites to reduce pain/ irritation
- Apply on or around a burn to soothe skin (only apply around the burn if skin is broken)
- Use after hair removal to soothe skin & reduce irritation
-  Is safe for use on sensitive skin


Lemon
- Diffuse in a room to neutralize odors
- Can clean kitchen surfaces such as counters and stainless steel appliances
- Used in aromatherapy to elevate mood
- Can be applied directly to cold sores to reduce irritation
- Use to remove gum, label adhesives, and greasy substances from fabrics





Peppermint
- Take a deep breath to invigorate lungs and increases alertness
- Apply to neck and bottoms of feet or add a few drops to a spray bottle of water & spritz if you're overheated
- Apply with lavender oil to neck & forehead to soothe headaches
-Rub on stomach or feet to calm indigestion
- Apply with lavender to soothe sore muscles and joints
- Use with lemon and lavender oils during allergy season




In addition, other oils can be used to treat a variety of other ailments, and I found the suggestions for babies and kids especially interesting:


Uses for Babies
Because baby’s skin is delicate, it’s best to dilute essential oils before applying them onto skin. A good rule of thumb is to dilute 1 drop of essential oil with 1 tbsp of carrier oil (such as sweet almond, jojoba, avocado, sunflower, coconut, or avocado oil).

For colds
Diffuse 2 drops of melaleuca (tea tree), lemon, or lavender at bedtime & during the day to help with symptoms

Diffuse 1 drop  of lavender or melaleuca oil to help with congestion during the day

For coughs
Mix 1 drop lavender oil with 1 tbsp carrier oil  & rub a small amount on back & chest

For fevers
Mix 1 drop lavender with 1 tbsp carrier oil & apply a small amount to bottoms of feet and to liver area. Put socks on baby’s feet so they don’t get the oil in their mouth or eyes

For abdominal pain
Mix 1 drop Roman chamomile and 1 drop orange with 2 tsp carrier oil and swish 1 tsbp of mixture in bath water

Diaper rash
Combine 1 drop Roman chamomile oil with 1 drop lavender oil & 1 drop of whole milk. Swish in bash water to soothe soar skin. Avoid getting it in baby’s eyes or on face

Uses for Kids
As with babies, it is a good idea to dilute essential oils before applying them to children’s skin. Diluting 1 drop of essential oil with 1 tbsp of carrier oil is a good rule of thumb.

For colds
Dilute 1- 2 drops of thyme or lemon oil in 2 tbsp of carrier oil & massage a small amount on neck & chest

For the flu
Dilute 1 drop cypress or lemon oil in unscented bath gel & use at bath time

For fever
Dilute 1- 2 drops of lavender or peppermint oil in 2 tbsp of carrier oil & massage a small amount on the neck, feet, behind the ears, & on the back

For earache
Combine 2 tbsp carrier oil with 2 drops of lavender and 1 drop each of Roman chamomile & melaleuca oil. Put a drop of mixture on a cotton ball and apply in ear, behind the ear, and on reflex points on feet

For minor burns
Immerse burnt skin in cold water for 10 minutes to cool the skin. If skin is not broken, apply 2 drops of lavender oil directly to the burn; if the skin is broken, rub it around the burnt area. Follow with a cool compress of 5 drops on a soft cloth & hold on burn area to sooth the skin.

For cuts & scrapes
Add 5 drops each lavender & melaleuca oil to a small bowl of warm water. Use this mixture to clean the cut, then apply 1 drop of lavender to a band- aid to cover the wound.

For chicken pox
Add 10 drops each of lavender and Roman chamomile oil to 4oz (1/2 cup) calamine lotion; mix & apply 2x per day

For insect bites
Add 5 drops German chamomile oil with 5 drops of lavender oil to small amount of cold water. Soak a cloth in the mixture & hold on bite for 1 minute to soothe skin

A great way to gain benefits from essential oils is to use a diffuser (one of my girlfriends has one and LOVES it). Some of the benefits:
- Reduce bacteria, fungus, mold, & odors
- Help with relaxation & mental clarity, and release tension
- Improve concentration & alertness

doTERRA claims that their oils are of the highest purity and that certain ones can be taken internally in addition to the benefits listed above; the company has a third party test each batch to ensure this quality and purity is upheld. While I don't doubt the company's commitment to quality, I found the suggestion of ingesting essential oils to be a controversial one while researching this post:

“There seems to be a misconception that there is some kind of independent body that certifies oils as therapeutic grade, but to this date there is no such body, at least not one that is widely recognized. Does this mean there is no such thing as therapeutic grade? No, but just realize that any therapeutic grade standard out there right now is an internally derived company standard. Now this standard may be an overall great standard and perfectly acceptable to me or any other analyst or aromatherapist out there but it just needs to be noted that its not an independent standard.” 

- Dr. Robert Pappas, Essential Oil University

The Alliance of International Aromatherapists gives this statement on the internal use of essential oils: 

"The Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal, or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal). Please refer to the AIA Safety Guidelines for essential oil use." 


Source of above material: Empowered Sustenance 

I had never heard of ingesting essential oils before and do find it to be an interesting concept. In the materials that Heather provided me there were suggested benefits of ingesting high quality essential oils, such as doTERRA's, but given the concerns and controversy surrounding doing so I chose not to include these suggestions in this post (however, Dr. Pappas, the man quoted above, is responsible for carrying out third- party testing of doTERRA's products). If you are interested in learning about these additional applications, I encourage you to research high- quality brands such as doTERRA and consult a holistic healthcare practitioner who understands and/ or specializes in such treatments. 

On a final note, Will and I were both impressed with the quality of the essential oils that Heather sent and we followed some of the suggested uses included with the materials that came with them. We both found using the peppermint and lavender oils helped soothe headaches and aching muscles and using them for aromatherapy was enjoyable. Lavender is great for relaxation while peppermint and lemon are good to increase alertness and make you feel more energized. We both look forward to trying out more of the suggested uses as a natural alternative as we have the need to (fingers crossed no colds or flus in this house!).

To learn more about doTERRA and the variety of other uses of essential oils, visit their website.
Heather also provided this link to a video with more information about how essential oils are tested for purity:

If you have any questions you can contact Heather to learn more or click the image below.

A big thank you to Heather from doTERRA for sending me the essential oils and for all of the interesting information on how they can be used. I encourage you to take a critical look at some of the products you use in your home and to learn more about the benefits of using natural solutions, such as essential oils, in your home.

Image Sources:
Natural living image: The Road to 31
Product images: K Petrunia

November posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique