Essential oils – the gateway to holistic health?

Essential oils – the gateway to holistic health?

My dear lovely current and prospective clients,

I love that you have stumbled onto the treasures of essential oils and I love even more that you have decided to take responsibility for your wellness and are considering working with me. But when you do chat with me, please don’t expect me to also be excited about your essential oils. I was there once too – I still have all the oils languishing in a bathroom cupboard – but I have since fallen out of love with them.  It is really important that you all understand that I am no longer a part of the essential oil craze.

I started using essential oils in 2006, in conjunction with a book “Seasons of Aromatherapy” (or something like that).  I struggled with just the idea of the cost (well over $300 probably now) to make all the stuff in that book.  Once I realized the cost, I decided to explore more affordable holistic health approaches.  Back then, the multilevel marketing was not as pervasive as it feels today.  At present, I use essential oils directly in a “stinky pillow” (a few drops of eucalyptus and lavender oil on a cloth, stuffed into my child’s pillow when he has a cold), a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the humidifier (also when my child has a cold), in the laundry, and as an insect repellent (cedar oil, a product for pets that we use on ourselves) against the voracious mosquitoes and chiggers in our yard.  Sadly, my husband uses oregano oil under his tongue when he has a stubborn sinus infection; and while it is “just” 2 drops, once a day, for just a few days, I still cringe every time he does it.

Back to you…  In using essential oils often and in insisting in their use, you tie my hands in the ways I can help. Homeopathics, for instance, can be very powerful and very inexpensive (sometimes even just one dose!), yet your essential oils may make them ineffective.  Not only can the essential oils disrupt homeopathic treatment in you (or your child), but storing your homeopathics anywhere near your oils, you will damage the remedies.  Thus, if you insist on continuing to use essential oils while you are a client, we are then restricted to less potent offerings that need to be taken more frequently and at “material” doses (and so it becomes more expensive for you).  I’m completely on board with meeting your needs, desires, and expectations where you are at right now, but you do need to be aware of the pitfalls of these seductive oils.

My bigger complaint about the essential oil craze lies with the multi-level marketing aspect of the essential oil companies.  I entirely lack belief in their ethics and sustainability promises.  So… did you know that you can buy locally made hydrosols (similar to essential oils, but different) in the local food coop (here in Bloomington, anyway), so you can take advantage of local plants, local expertise, and support a local business or two?  More generally, small batch producers offer ethically made products, made with a connection to the plants and a genuine concern for the environment.  Moreover,  their use doesn’t require ever expanding “products” derived from them for you to smell, rub on, or (horror) ingest.

Below, I have some suggestions regarding essential oil use:

  1. Please obtain your essential oils from small-batch distributors and makers who are not encumbered with tiered marketing practices.
  2. Use essential oils from common, abundant plants like lavender, rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus.
  3. Please avoid essential oils that have been derived from endangered and/or threatened plants unless you are a healer with a direct land-based connection to the plant from which those oils came.  Don’t know if a plant is endangered or threatened?  Go do some research!
  4. Please familiarize yourself with the actual plant before you start using it as an essential oil.  Can’t grow it in your garden?  Get it in a potted form.
  5. Consider first exploring other herbal preparations before you move to essential oils: teas, decoctions, infusions, infused oils (using the whole plant), tinctures, glycerites, honeys, dream pillows, baths, smudge bundles, cocktails, incense, steam baths, powders…  There are lots of really good herb books out there, and if you check out my pinterest page you will find book recommendations.
  6. For mood, emotional and energetic effects, consider using flower essences.  These are much gentler to your body, your wallet and the plants (flower essences are made from just the flower, and some companies do this process without even removing the flower from the plant).  These essences can have as potent an effect as essential oils, sometimes even more potent.  More importantly, they work in conjunction with homeopathic remedies and don’t have the antidoting effect that essential oils do.
  7. Use essential oils for very specific purposes and situations when whole plant material cannot be used.
  8. Use your essential oils topically and diluted in a carrier oil.  Or use them via inhalation.  Always always in small amounts.  Those little vials should last years, not weeks.
  9. Please do not give essential oils to your children orally and use very small amounts topically, always diluted in a carrier oil or salve.  However, it is much safer to use oil infused with whole plant material – an ideal way of getting herbs onto/into a child.  Baths with herbs are also a great way to get herbs into children as well.
  10. Unless a licensed medical practitioner with proper training or a clinical herbalist has prescribed/recommended them as such, please do not take your essential oils internally.  This instruction includes some of “those” supplements from a company or two that has essential oils in handy capsules.  For clarity, essential oil sales representatives are not properly trained, in my opinion.  But neither am I, so you won’t hear me advocating for internal use.

By adhering to those suggestions myself, I hope you better understand why I have largely abandoned the essential oil bandwagon.