Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Essential Oils - What's the Buzz?

It seems that you can’t talk about an ailment without someone suggesting the use of essential oils.  Last week I posted something on Facebook about my pierced ears itching and swelling.  A few friends suggested I use certain essential oils to reduce the symptoms.  What exactly are these essential oils? 

I have toyed with some essential oil samples given to me by a friend and have even purchased a few after successfully using them.  To learn more, I picked up a copy of “The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy” by Valerie Ann Wormwood.   Ms. Wormwood provides a nice background on the historic use of essential oils, as well as a comprehensive overview of common ailments and recommended oils.  Essential oils, in short, “are extracted from certain varieties of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, and flowers” (p.6).  The oil is most concentrated in certain parts of the plant.  Some are easier to extract than others.  For example, the oil is quite abundant in a lavender plant (220 pounds will provide 7 lbs of oil) and lavender plants are relatively easy to grow.  Sandalwood oil, on the other hand, can only be taken from a tree that is 30 years old and 30 feet high.  This might take a little longer.

The oils can be used in a variety of ways.  The most common methods are topical and aromatic.  For example, some people might apply lavender oil to insect bites or dry skin.  Other people might use the peppermint fragrance to relieve headaches.  Some oils have been mixed and sold as bug repellants.  Others use the oils to make their own cleaning products.

The essential oil industry has grown in popularity because it is a natural alternative.  While medications will always have a purpose, some people prefer to try natural remedies before turning to chemical ones.  Back to my ear example: the use of frankincense (a natural anti-inflammatory) helped me reduce the swelling in my pierced ears.  Turns out I am allergic to most metals, so that switch also needed to take place before they returned to normal.  Other oils that help reduce inflammation have helped relieve symptoms of arthritis that I am having, as well.

Before trying any essential oil, you should certainly do your own research and consult your physician, if you have any concerns.  You know your own body best! 

Valerie J Connor, MA CCC-SLP


Betty Harrison said...

Thanks - very interesting!

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